Ban sees his visit 'sign of improved security'

Updated: 2011-12-14 11:01


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Ban sees his visit 'sign of improved security'

Kenya Defence Force soldier responds to a radio call as they patrol areas near Ras Kamboni next to the Indian Ocean December 13, 2011. [Photo/Agencies]

UNITED NATIONS - UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon on Tuesday said that his recent visit to Somalia, the first by the UN secretary-general over the past 18 years, "is a sign of improved security and the investment that the United Nations has made in supporting the African Union Mission in Somalia."

"That my visit was even possible is a sign of improved security and the investment that the United Nations has made in supporting the African Union Mission in Somalia," Ban said in his briefing to the UN Security Council on his December 9 visit to the African nation.

Ban said that despite frequent security setbacks and a growing humanitarian crisis in Southern Somalia, the Somali capital city of Mogadishu is stabilizing under African Union peacekeeping forces, known as AMISOM.

"All city districts are now effectively under the control of the Transitional Federal Government with the support of AMISOM," Ban said.

On December 9, Ban made an unannounced visit to Somalia, together with Nasser A. Al-Nasser, president of the 66th session of the UN General Assembly.

"It was the first visit by a UN secretary-general to Somalia in over 18 years," he said.  "And it was of course the first time ever in the history of the United Nations and the president of the General Assembly and the secretary-general traveled together to Somalia."

In his briefing, Ban was cautiously optimistic about progress in the embattled Horn of Africa state, using his visit and the fact that the UN Political Office for Somalia (UNPOS) is relocating from Kenya to Mogadishu in January as evidence that the situation is improving, at least in Mogadishu.

Yet the war against Islamist rebel group Al-Shabaab still rages on.

And as AMISOM's 12,000 troops continue to engage in what Ban called an "asymmetric terrorist war," the government, led by President Sheikh Sharif Sheikh Ahmed and Prime Minister Abdiweli Mohamed Ali, has missed "important deadlines" aimed at accelerating constitutional and parliamentary reforms, Ban said.

"In an urban environment, we must secure gains and extend them beyond Mogadishu," the secretary-general said.

These deadlines "do not require financial resources, but political will," he said.

"President Sharif assured me of his government's commitment to a broadly inclusive implementation of the Roadmap. He cited the upcoming meeting on the constitution-making process as an important step," Ban said.

The secretary-general also traveled outside of Mogadishu, where he visited a refugee complex in Dadaab, Kenya, which hosts more than half a million Somalian refugees who have been forced to flee the country because of famine and insecurity.

"Millions are in crisis," he said.

And that crisis has been compounded by Al-Shabaab's recent capture of numerous humanitarian compounds in South-Central Somalia on November 28. The rebels looted the compounds, took food and medical supplies, and announced their plan to banish more than a dozen humanitarian organizations from the country.

"I condemn these actions and once again call on all parties to immediately allow unimpeded humanitarian access and to refrain from actions which threaten the safety of Somalis and those assisting them," Ban said.

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