[dehai-news] (Reuters): Somali security forces desert, govt vanishing-UN


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From: Berhane Habtemariam (Berhane.Habtemariam@gmx.de)
Date: Fri Dec 12 2008 - 08:16:12 EST


Somali security forces desert, govt vanishing-UN

12 Dec 2008, 20:10 GMT

By Louis Charbonneau

UNITED NATIONS (Reuters) - The ranks of Somalia's army and police have been
gutted as most soldiers and police officers have deserted, often taking
their weapons and vehicles, according to a new U.N. Security Council report.

The chairman of the council's Monitoring Group on Somalia said Thursday that
this was one of the main sources of weapons and ammunition in Somalia, along
with illegal imports from Yemen and purchases of arms for opposition groups
with funds from various domestic and foreign financiers.

There has been "an 80 percent erosion and attrition in the (interim
government's) security sector, by which over 15,000 soldiers and police had
deserted or defected along with their arms, uniforms, skills and vehicles in
some cases," South Africa's U.N. Ambassador Dumisani Kumalo told the
council.

A U.N. arms embargo has been in place on the now lawless Horn of Africa
country since 1992.

In a four-page summary of the monitoring group's biannual report for the
council, Kumalo also said his committee had observed a "steady
disintegration" of the government since he gave the group's last report to
the Security Council in May.

He said that 70 percent of the transitional Somali government's revenues
were earmarked for supporting the security sector, but very few of those
funds were ever spent on security due to corruption.

"Charitable organizations and the Internet were the main sources of funding
for armed opposition groups and ... payment mechanisms involving cash
couriers and contributions in kind had emerged," Kumalo said in his summary.

On the topic of piracy, he described it as a "multimillion dollar industry,
with a total of 1,000-1,500 pirates employed, using over 60 small boats and
mother ships."

He added that pirates were invoking "legitimate Somali grievances regarding
foreign exploitation of marine resources and degradation of the marine
environment, thus gaining community support." He was referring to illegal
fishing and toxic waste dumping in Somali waters.

The monitoring group had also found that the pirate leaders were well known
in Somalia and therefore identifiable.

Many pirates are based in Somalia's semi-autonomous northern region of
Puntland.

Regarding allegations of complicity between Puntland officials and pirates,
he said the regional authorities' steps against the menace were "selective"
and that "senior government officials had been so compromised that these
measures would be of little consequence."

A surge in piracy this year in the busy Gulf of Aden and Indian Ocean off
Somalia has driven up insurance costs, brought the gangs tens of millions of
dollars in ransoms and prompted foreign navies to rush to the area to
protect shipping.

The U.S. delegation has circulated to members of the U.N. Security Council a
draft resolution that would give countries the right to pursue pirates on
land as well as at sea. Several council diplomats told Reuters the powers
were too broad and predicted the text would not pass in its current form.
(Editing by David Wiessler)

C Reuters 2008. All Rights Reserved.

 

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