Despite the gains achieved by Somalia's interim Government, the country urgently needs more help from its international partners to tackle a host of challenges and achieve greater stability and peace, says a new United Nations report released today.
In recent months, the Transitional Federal Government (TFG) and its allies, with the support of the African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM), have gained ground against Al-Shabaab militants, Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon notes in his latest report to the Security Council on Somalia.
The TFG has undertaken efforts to expand its area of control in the capital, Mogadishu, to enhance security for its people, and has also opened new fronts in south-central Somalia and taken control of major towns.
"Now that there has been progress on the security track, the Transitional Federal Government, with the support of its partners, must deliver on the political and development tracks to sustain and consolidate the hard-won gains," Mr. Ban writes.
He says the Horn of Africa nation faces levels of violence, damaging weather conditions and insecurity that would "shake even stable countries," and the TFG and AMISOM need additional support.
"The international community must keep its end of the bargain," he states. "The Transitional Federal Government urgently needs assistance for Mogadishu's stabilization, recovery and reconstruction.
"If we reinforce the military gains, provide humanitarian relief and achieve political progress, we can set Somalia on course to greater stability and peace. If we fail, we risk a growing humanitarian crisis, a deteriorating security situation and a worsening threat to regional peace and stability."
The number of people in Somalia needing humanitarian assistance and livelihood support has reached 2.4 million, an increase of 20 per cent over the previous six months, according to the report. Somalis have been adversely affected by continued civil insecurity, displacement and food insecurity.
Drought and conflict have been the main reasons for new displacements, the report adds, noting that nearly 55,000 people have been displaced owing to drought since December. In addition, almost 16,000 people were displaced in Mogadishu in the first two months of the year owing to heavy fighting.
Mr. Ban also states that the current disagreement among the transitional federal institutions over the extension of the transitional period distracts from the urgency of the manifold tasks that are before them, including providing basic services, recovery and reconstruction, and humanitarian aid.
In February, Somalia's interim Parliament voted to extend its mandate by three years beyond the August deadline by which it was to enact a new constitution ahead of general elections. The move drew criticism from UN officials, who said the decision was made in haste and without the required consultations.
Mr. Ban cites the need for effective leadership to complete the priority transitional tasks, chief among them being the constitution-making process. Other tasks to be completed include political reconciliation and building civilian and security institutions.
The development of the Somali security sector institutions is crucial, as is speeding up the deployment of additional troops for AMISOM. "A stronger AMISOM would help the Transitional Federal Government to bring and sustain more territory under its control and to begin delivering services to the Somali people," he states.