UN votes for increase in Somalia peacekeepers

The United Nations Security Council on Wednesday voted to increase by half the number of African Union peacekeepers supporting Somalia’s transitional government against al-Qaeda-inspired rebels.

The council called on the African Union Mission in Somalia (Amisom) to increase troops from 8 000 to 12 000, a move aimed at “enhancing its ability to carry out its mandate” of stabilising the lawless, war-battered country.

The council also expressed “its condemnation in the strongest terms of all acts of violence, abuses, and human rights violations committed against civilians, including women and children”.

Last week a Somali minister told reporters at the UN that the transitional government now controls more than half of the capital, Mogadishu, and that more Amisom troops would be used to expand control across the country.

Abdulkareem Hassan Jama called the Amisom presence “critical”, adding that African Union, Somali army and transitional government forces control 55% of Mogadishu, where between 70% and 80% of residents live.

But he said there are “vast ghost zones” in the areas controlled by the Islamist rebel group al-Shabaab.

Somalia was plunged into chaos in 1991 following the ouster of former president Mohamed Siad Barre and has been gripped by civil war and without a functioning national government for nearly two decades. — Sapa-AFP

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