Somalia short of aid, UN envoy says
While Somalia is slowly moving from a failed state to a fragile state, the impoverished African nation still hangs by a thread from falling into chaos, UN envoy Ahmedou Ould-Abdallah said here on Thursday.
In a speech rife with development cliches, Ould-Abdallah told the UN Security Council that the crisis in Somalia will explode onto the world scene without adequate support from the international community, Xinhua reported.
"Therefore we cannot afford to keep managing the status quo while waiting for the perfect conditions," he said. "In the face of mounting danger, sitting on the fence is no longer an option."
Despite international support for Somalia's transitional government, financial assistance has been rather slim. From the 213 million U.S. dollars that was pledged in Brussels last April, "what has been disbursed is too small to have had the desired impact," he said.
Ould-Abdallah noted that over the past 10 to 15 years, the world has spent 8 billion U.S. dollars in various forms of assistance but it only dealt with "the symptoms of the crisis and may have exacerbated the overall situation."
Still lacking in funds, the transitional government is unable to pay the salaries of policymakers in parliament and officers in the security forces, making a life working with extremists appear all the more desirable for the country's poor youth.
Taking up arms on the high seas has proved lucrative. Millions of dollars have been won in ransom payments off the coast of Somalia and more criminals are taking notice. Piracy has increased nearly 40 percent in 2009, with more than half of those incidents occurring near Somalia, according to an annual report by the International Maritime Bureau in London.
The number of attacks near Somalia doubled in 2009 from 111 to 217, of which, said the maritime watchdog, pirates successfully hijacked 47 vessels and took 867 crew members hostage.
Ould-Abdallah suggested that if financial and diplomatic assistance was expedited to Somalis, it would be a practical way to send a message of support to the government, while deterring extremists.
"Assistance delayed is assistance denied," he said.
The United Nations could also work more closely with regional organizations like the African Union and the League of Arab States, he said, adding that the UN peacekeeping force needs more troops, as well as financial assistance to buy weapons and pay salaries.
The time is right to "encourage or pressurize" the extremists, which Ould-Abdallah called "spoilers." A clear message backed by concrete action would demonstrate an end to impunity, he said without elaborating on what kind of message or action would be effective.
If the United Nations began to coordinate its efforts with other individual initiatives, the effort to restore stability to Somalia would prove forthcoming, he said.