18 July 2013

Somalia: United Nations Report Paints Grim Picture of Somalia

A report by the United Nations Monitoring Group on Somalia and Eritrea released Wednesday (July 17th) paints a grim picture of the political, security and human rights situation in Somalia.

Despite the end of the Transitional Federal Government and the election of Somali President Hassan Sheikh Mohamud in September 2012, the UN report asserts that corruption and misappropriation of public resources persists, particularly in regard to donor funds deposited in the Central Bank.

"On average, at least 80% of withdrawals from the Central Bank are made for private purposes and not for the running of government, representing a patronage system and a set of social relations that defy the institutionalization of the state," the report said.

Violations also persist in the smuggling of illegal weapons into Somalia and in the export of charcoal from Kismayo, the report said, placing most of the blame on al-Shabaab, but also noting the government's compliance.

Al-Shabaab "remains the principal threat to peace and security in Somalia", despite suffering military setbacks in the past year. Ahmed Abdi Godane's leadership of al-Shabaab remains largely unchallenged, the report said, and he has reportedly strengthened his direct control of the Amniyat, the elite intelligence branch of al-Shabaab.

"Al-Shabaab remains in control of most of southern and central Somalia," the report said, a threat that continues to challenge humanitarian access to vulnerable civilians.

"Al-Shabaab maintained and expanded its ban on most aid agencies in areas under its control, while all actors in Somalia subjected humanitarian organisations to taxation, illegal roadblocks, intimidation and extortion," according to the report.

The Monitoring Group recommended that the Somali Federal Government seek help from donors and the World Bank to establish "a joint international and Somali approach to management of public resources". It also recommended an expansion of international counter-piracy mandates in the region to include enforcement against smuggling illegal weapons and illegal fishing.

The UN Security Council also called on the Somali government "to monitor, investigate and prosecute attacks on aid workers, including illegal taxation and intimidation by its security forces, and hold perpetrators to account".

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