South Africa says UN dragging feet on Somalia

Other News Materials 21 February 2008 02:15 (UTC +04:00)

( dpa ) - South Africa criticized the United Nations on Wednesday for lack of action to support the peace process in Somalia even though the UN Security Council renewed the mandate of an African peacekeeping mission there for another six months.

South Africa has been calling for UN peacekeeping operations, in addition to the African one, to end the protracted conflict in Somalia.

"We voted reluctantly for the mission, but we really feel that the UN is letting down the people in Somalia," South African UN Ambassador Dumisani Kumalo told reporters after a council meeting, in which the mandate of the African force in Somalia was unanimously renewed.

"We have no illusion, Somalia is a bad neighbourhood like they say in the Bronx, we are aware of that," Kumalo said. "But this council has a mandate and a responsibility to deal with bad neighbourhoods, which need peace and security."

The council renewed the African mandate without specific recommendations from UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon, who was supposed to submit a report before the mandate renewal. Kumalo said a draft report was finished by Ban's aides, but they would give the report to the council only on March 10.

"They have the report," Kumalo said. "This is the way the UN is dragging its feet when it comes to Somalia, and we are not going to allow that because the people of Somalia have suffered enough."

The report was prepared by the UN peacekeeping department, which provides recommendations for operations around the world.

The council has authorized the African Union to deploy 8,000 troops in Somalia, but so far only Uganda has sent two battalions of troops to Mogadishu, which have been facing considerable security challenges. The troops were supposed to verify an arms embargo by the council.

Kumalo and other council members said they will resume discussion over Somalia once the report is submitted on March 10 and not wait for the end of the six-month mandate to try to help Somalia.