UN supports proposal to triple peacekeepers in Somalia
29 October 2013, 10:43
Nairobi - UN Deputy Secretary Jan Eliasson on Monday expressed support for an African Union (AU) proposal to triple peacekeeping troops in Somalia to 45,000 from the current 17,551.
The increment is to combat the "plague of terror" in the Horn of Africa country and in East Africa, where Somalia-based Al- Shabaab launched a deadly attack on the Westgate Mall in the Kenyan capital Nairobi on Sept. 21.
"They are not just killing and destroying. They are instilling fear. This is a very dangerous phenomenon. We have to see this as a threat to values. This is a threat to basic principles of the UN Charter. We must continue to do our job," Eliasson said.
Speaking after a tour of Kenya and Somalia, the UN deputy chief said increasing the troops to Somalia and investing in development inside Somalia would help boost peace efforts in Somalia.
"The plague of terrorism has to be dealt with. Terrorism has to be dealt with," Eliasson told a news conference in Nairobi.
Eliasson served as UN special envoy to Somalia when an international peacekeeping mission there collapsed in 1992.
Eliasson said he would present the AU request before the UN Security Council on Wednesday. The Council would consider increasing the capacity of the Somali security forces and the AU Mission in Somalia (AMISOM).
"My presentation to the Security Council will address Somalia's security needs. I will be suggesting there is an increase in security in Somalia. There is an increase in terrorism in Somalia. It is a costly operation because we have other operations in Mali and the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) they are extremely expensive."
AMISOM initially interpreted Al-Shabaab's resorting to suicide bombings as the last kicks of a hostile militia group on its deathbed. But the scale of its attack on Westgate has disapproved the earlier position both locally and internationally.
"I hope they (Security Council) will take seriously the threat which is growing. We will see what they will decide on the development," Eliasson said. "It is important to search for development efforts and reach out to the young people."
Eliasson said apart from increasing the troop levels, the Council would explore the needs of the Somali forces through equipment and other support packages.
The UN has discussed the option of taking over the AMISOM operations, but it has not raised adequate funds to finance the force operations, currently met by the EU.