Recent gains provide hope to advance Somali peace process – Ban

Speaking at a mini-summit on Somalia, held on the margins of the annual high-level debate of the General Assembly, Mr. Ban noted that Somalia has made important strides on the political and security fronts. He recalled the meeting held earlier this month in the capital, Mogadishu, on ending the transition, which was “a milestone in the peace process, testimony to the improved security situation in the capital.” Delegates attending the UN-backed meeting endorsed a roadmap that spells out priority measures to be implemented before the current governing arrangements end in August next year, including improving security, drafting a constitution, national reconciliation and good governance. “It is time now for the Transitional Federal Institutions (TFIs) and Somalia’s leaders to implement the roadmap to end the transition, keeping in mind that future assistance will be contingent on the timely attainment of the agreed benchmarks,” said Mr. Ban.“It is equally necessary for the international community to remain engaged in the Somali peace process and to provide resources to the Transitional Federal Institutions and other implementing partners to ensure that this political investment bears fruit,” he added.The Secretary-General said there is currently “a realistic prospect” for securing Mogadishu and advancing the political process. The withdrawal of the Islamist armed group Al-Shabaab from the capital in early August offers the Transitional Federal Government (TFG) an opportunity to expand territory under its control and enhance its legitimacy by delivering basic services.He noted, however, that the arrival of up to 400,000 internally displaced persons (IDPs) from areas under Al-Shabaab control has put new strain on overstretched resources. In addition, extremist elements continue to pose a threat in and around Mogadishu.“We must prevent warlords from re-emerging in Mogadishu by not allowing a security vacuum to develop,” he said. Mr. Ban highlighted the need to ensure that the Somali security forces and the African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM) are adequately funded, adding that recent gains could not have been achieved without the significant sacrifices of AU and Somali troops.He also called for support for the Mogadishu Stabilization Plan, prepared by the TFG and the UN Country Team, which requires initial funding of $15 million. “Somalis need to see a tangible difference between their lives under governmental authority and their lives under Al-Shabaab,” Mr. Ban stated. He also noted that, at the very time when there have been political and security gains, a devastating crisis is unfolding, in which a combination of drought, conflict, and lack of humanitarian access has put more than two million people in southern Somalia in danger of starvation.To discuss how best to respond to the crisis in Somalia and the wider Horn of Africa region, where over 13 million people are in need of assistance, Mr. Ban is convening a humanitarian summit tomorrow at UN Headquarters.Participant at today’s meeting urged Somali leaders to fully implement the roadmap and to complete the tasks it contains within the agreed timeframe, according to a chairman’s summary issued after the summit. They also condemned all violence, including terrorist attacks on the TFG, AMISOM, the civilian population and the obstruction of the delivery of humanitarian aid, and urged opposition groups to “lay down their arms, join the peace process and ensure full, safe and unhindered delivery of humanitarian aid.” 23 September 2011Peace and SecuritySecretary-General Ban Ki-moon today called on Somali leaders and their international partners to take advantage of recent gains and to advance the peace process and stabilize the Horn of Africa nation. read more

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UN interview of Iraqi scientist falls through when he seeks alternate format

United Nations weapons inspectors in Iraq who sought to interview one of the country’s biological scientists did not hold the discussion after he objected to the format, a UN spokesman in Baghdad reported today.The individual “showed up for the appointment alone but did not agree to the mode of interview” proposed by the UN Monitoring, Inspection and Verification Commission (UNMOVIC), spokesman Hiro Ueki said.Meanwhile, the probe into Iraq’s prohibited arms programme continued as an UNMOVIC chemical team went to Al Mutanna in order to prepare to destroy 10 155mm artillery shells and four plastic containers filled with mustard gas.The destruction process will begin tomorrow and is expected to last four to five days, according to Mr. Ueki. “These artillery shells were scheduled to be destroyed by the UN Special Commission (UNSCOM) in 1998 but the plan was halted when UNSCOM withdrew from Iraq,” he explained. “UNMOVIC ascertained on 4 December 2002 that these shells were still stored at Al Mutanna.”For its part, the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), which is looking into Baghdad’s clandestine nuclear ambitions, today held “no-notice” inspections at Tuwaitha, 15 kilometres south of Baghdad. Two mobile air samplers capable of measuring particulate nuclear matter have been deployed around the Iraqi capital for the last four days. “An IAEA team retrieved the two samplers and samples were taken,” Mr. Ueki said. “The samplers will be relocated in new positions tomorrow.”Another IAEA team conducted a car-borne radiation survey of two military bases and surrounding areas in an area just south of Baghdad. read more

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