1 March 2005

Somalia: Arms Embargo Against Somalia Must Be Tightened, UN Report Says

With sporadic fighting continuing in Somalia and preventing the implementation of United Nations programmes in large areas of the country, Secretary-General Kofi Annan is calling for a tighter arms embargo against the Horn of Africa country, especially for heavy weapons.

"Greater efforts should be made to enforce the arms embargo in Somalia .Reports indicate large-scale violations of the arms embargo, not only by extremist groups and militias, but also some Members of Parliament," he says in a report to the Security Council on the situation in the country.

"The importation of explosives and heavy weapons is especially worrisome. Small arms proliferation is a major concern that needs to be addressed in the longer term, but the presence of large quantities of heavy weapons (tanks, artillery, anti-aircraft guns, multi-barrelled rocket launchers and heavy mortars) poses a more immediate problem."

A long-term solution to the confrontation between the pro-secessionist Somali areas called "Somaliland" and "Puntland" over the control of the Sool and Sanaag regions is not yet in sight and the two sides continue to deploy troops in those areas, the report says. There were few clashes until last November when several men were killed in a clash near Las Anod.

In the Bay and Bakool regions internal disputes among members of the Rahanwein Resistance Army have led to a proliferation of checkpoints which limit the movements of UN and other aid agencies, it says.

The UN Development Programme (UNDP) is working closely with the Transitional Federal Parliament in arranging the Government's phased move from Kenya to Somalia and will train 5,000 policemen in the south-central area of the country.

In a new move for Somalia, 13 female cadets from across the country have been recruited for the Mandera Police Academy, it says, and they have been given allowances to visit their families periodically to relieve any anxieties about their well-being.

A new initiative is underway in Hargeysa to use land ownership data to increase municipal revenues, help urban planning, develop postal systems and name roads. The initiative will take place next in Burco and Boroma, the report says.

The World Bank's Low Income Countries under Stress (LICUS) programme and UNDP, in cooperation with the provincial ministries of education and three universities, have launched a distance-learning project for Somali students and faculties.

In addition, a study of Arabic language schools has been completed with a view to working out a common curricula and common public examinations, the report says, and it calls on Arab League countries to increase their aid to the country.

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