UNITED NATIONS (Reuters) - The U.N. Security Council on Wednesday authorized a boost in the African Union's peacekeeping force in Somalia from 8,000 to 12,000 troops to shore up the country's government against Islamist insurgents.
The force, known as AMISOM, currently consists of soldiers from Uganda and Burundi. Uganda is expected to provide the extra 4,000 troops.
African nations had been calling for an increase to 20,000 troops to rout militants from the capital Mogadishu, but major powers on the Security Council called that excessive. AMISOM's costs are largely met by the international community.
The lawless Horn of Africa nation has been mired in violence and awash with weapons since dictator Mohamed Siad Barre was ousted in 1991. Largely due to the anarchy, pirates have become a scourge of shipping off the Somali coast.
Western security officials say Somalia is a breeding ground for Islamist militants and is attracting increasing numbers of foreign jihadists.
Security Council diplomats say the extra troops should enable AMISOM to secure Mogadishu from Islamist al Shabaab rebels, who seek to topple the fragile government and impose a harsh form of sharia law.
Wednesday's resolution asked U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon to go on providing equipment and services for AMISOM, which receives its mandate from the Security Council. It also urged U.N. member states and international bodies to contribute "generously and promptly" to a U.N. trust fund for AMISOM.
The force already receives about $130 million a year in outside funding, diplomats say.
Uganda's U.N. Ambassador Ruhakana Rugunda told the council the resolution would improve AMISOM's ability to carry out its mandate, but said it was crucial the force received "the requisite resources."
Rugunda urged the Somali government "to remain cohesive and continue its efforts to reach out to those (opposition) groups that are willing and ready to cooperate in a spirit of reconciliation."
African countries and the Somali government have long urged the Security Council to send a full-fledged U.N. peacekeeping force to Somalia to replace AMISOM, but the council has said it will not do so until the security situation improves there.
© Thomson Reuters
Somalia: UN calls for 4,000 more African Union peacekeepers
It asks Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon to provide UN logistical support to the enlarged force with equipment and services, while continuing his good offices for reconciliation in a country where Al Shabaab, other Islamist militias, factional groups and foreign fighters control vast tracts of territory in a fight to oust the internationally recognized TFG, based in Mogadishu, the capital.
Somalia has not had a functioning central government since the overthrow of the Muhammad Siad Barre in 1991, and the Council reiterated its serious concern at the impact of the continued fighting on the civilian population, stressing the terrorist threat that the armed opposition, particularly Al Shabaab, constitutes not only for Somalia but for the international community.
Citing human rights violations against civilians, including women and children, and humanitarian personnel, it voiced concern at “the worsening humanitarian situation” and “the significant decline” in humanitarian funding for Somalia and called on all Member States to contribute to current and future appeals.
The Council also reiterated its intent, mentioned in past resolutions, to set up a UN peacekeeping operation when conditions permit. At present the UN maintains a political office for Somalia (UNPOS) in Nairobi, capital of neighbouring Kenya, because of the poor security situation inside Somalia.
As in the past, the resolution called on all parties to support the Djibouti Agreement, a UN-facilitated peace process that began in 2008 and has been joined by one of the rebel groups.
On piracy, which has plagued shipping off the Somali coast, including vital supplies from the UN World Food Programme (WPF) to scores of thousands of hungry civilians, the Council called for a comprehensive international response to tackle both the scourge and its underlying causes.
Uganda to send 1,800 extra troops to Somalia
A simulation exercise was carried out at Singo Training Wing to test the capacity of the troops to overcome obstacles. Bullets were fired below tight ropes that the soldiers were walking on.
somali Information Minister
daily news bulletin.