SRSG Mahiga updates the media on the latest developments in Somalia

1 Nov 2011

SRSG Mahiga updates the media on the latest developments in Somalia

At a press conference in Nairobi, the Special Representative of UN Secretary-General for Somalia, Dr. Augustine P. Mahiga, briefed on the continuing progress of the implementation of the Roadmap, the Kenyan military operation in Somalia, the security situation in Mogadishu and Al Shabaab's continuing obstruction of humanitarian assistance.

Dr. Mahiga said the key factor to ensure the success of the Roadmap was the political commitment of stakeholders. He said he was satisfied with the progress on the implementation of the Roadmap which has included the establishment of four subcommittees under an overall Technical Committee focusing on the four pillars: security; constitution-making; political outreach and reconciliation and governance. The subcommittees, all chaired by the Transitional Federal Government and co-chaired by key stakeholders, have begun meeting to discuss the way forward on the Roadmap.

On the security front, Dr. Mahiga said that the TFG forces and AMISOM now control 98 per cent of Mogadishu. He said that during efforts to clear the north east of the city, Al Shabaab had used conventional and unconventional warfare, carrying out its pledge to resort to more asymmetrical warfare. "We have witnessed some of the most tragic terrorist attacks in Mogadishu, including the innocent and cold-blooded killing of over 70 young men and women who were to be recipients of scholarships to go to Turkey, " he said, referring to the suicide bombing in Mogadishu on 4 October.

The violence was, according to the SRSG, a reminder of the need to bring AMISOM up to its mandated strength of 12,000 troops as soon as possible. "It is, of course, a big challenge and in a sense a big reminder to the troop-contributing countries and to the international community that we should expedite the deployment of the remaining 3,000 troops which have been authorized by the Security Council."

Asked about the UN's view of the Kenyan troops' entry into Somalia, Dr. Mahiga said that the two nations "have a common enemy and that common enemy is Al Shabaab which has been the major obstruction to humanitarian assistance." He explained that the Kenyan forces were operating under a bi-lateral agreement between the two Governments. "We think this, in the end, will contribute to the sum total of gaining more territory, greater security and, therefore, more access to the victims of famine and drought, especially in South Central Somalia," he said.

On the air strike by the Kenyan forces which, according to some reports, killed civilians in a Somali IDP camp, Dr Mahiga said: " Our position has always been, that in whatever operations, by what ever parties, civilians lives must be spared and the safety and protection of civilians must remain sacrosanct."

On the humanitarian front, Dr. Mahiga said Al Shabaab continued to be a major hindrance in getting humanitarian assistance to the Somali victims of the famine brought on by the severe drought. He said there had been negotiated access in some areas, but the needs were still tremendous. He said that during his visit to Mogadishu last week he saw that the internally displaced were still arriving in the city and that they were also going to other areas such as Puntland and Somaliland. He said insecurity was a major deterrent which was stopping the displaced returning to their homes.

For a complete transcript of th press conference, click here