By Erol Avdovic
The United Nations is planning to create a non-lethal, logistical support force to some 10,500 Somali National Army (SNA) soldiers so they can better cope with the security and humanitarian challenges in the country.
Nicholas Kay, the UN special envoy to Somalia, also appealed on Wednesday for the world body’s international partners to boost support for humanitarian efforts in Somalia, where the UN currently feeds one million people a day. Two years ago, a famine in Somalia killed half a million people died.
Strengthening the Somali army is critical to opposing the strongest terrorist group in the country, Al-Shabaab and its militants, as they continue to attack the UN and other targets in the country, Kay told Anadolu Agency.
“According to the Security Council resolution (2124), the UN is authorized for the first time to provide non-lethal support to the Somali National Army, conducting joint operations with AMISOM (African Union Mission in Somalia) in accordance with the (UN) Secretary General human rights due diligence (policy),” Kay told AA.
So far support has been given to some 3.600 Somali National Army members who are undertaking refreshment training in such areas as human rights and international humanitarian law, he said.
The UN has estimated that the annual cost of this support, for such items as tents, food, water, fuel, transport and medicines would be about $ 22 million per year.
The trust fund launched a month ago has so far received pledges of about $ 7.5 million, with $5 of that from the U.S. government and $2.5 million from the UK,” Kay said.
Kay, who also heads the UN Assistance Mission in Somalia (UNSOM) said “it’s a moment of great new opportunities but also some significant new challenges for Somalia.”
The “UN has no intention to withdraw” from Somalia, Kay said, since the UN’s “resolve is very, very strong.”
“Quite the opposite, we are expanding our presence on the ground.” he said, despite attacks on UN operations and personnel by Al-Shabaab. “As we speak, we have more UN people and more UN agencies present in Mogadishu and elsewhere in Somalia.”
Kay was at UN Headquarters on Wednesday along with AMISOM chief, Ambassador Mahamat Saleh Annadif, to present their view on the situation in Somalia to the UN Security Council.
They said the UN has been extremely successful and enjoyed a unique collaboration with the African Union in Somalia, particularly in the military campaign against Al-Shabaab which has been forced to retreat from the capital Mogadishu.
The current military offensive is the most significant and geographically extensive since AMISOM was created in 2007 and has resulted in the Somali Federal government reclaiming 10 towns, according to the UN.
But Kay said Al-Shabaab is still blockading many of the road routes to the towns. Because of this, there is still a need of helicopters to allow delivery of aid by air.
So far - AMISOM has no helicopters at all.