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Reuters AlertNet 8/17/07

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At UN, No "Coalition of the Willing" for Somalia, as Body Count Continues to Rise

Byline: Matthew Russell Lee of Inner City Press at the UN: News Analysis

UNITED NATIONS, November 19 -- As Somalis have been driven from their homes by tank fire and mortars, as civilians have been killed, including by the UN-based Transitional Federal Government, what has the UN Security Council done? Monday they had consultations, on a report by the Secretary-General which said Somalia is too dangerous for a UN peacekeeping force, that a "coalition of the willing" should be considered. Inner City Press asked Council president for November Marty M. Natalegawa if any Council member, during their closed-door meeting, had expressed willingness. No, Amb. Natalegawa conceded. He said that the Council urged the Secretariat to proceed with Somalia planning, and that it supports the TFG. Video here.

            Off-camera, South African Ambassador Dumisani S. Kumalo expressed frustration at Ban Ki-moon and the Council's major powers. He asked if Iraq, to which Mr. Ban wants to send more UN workers, is so much safer than Somalia. He said that the UN's Department of Peacekeeping Operations does not want to go to Somalia. Amb. Kumalo criticized major power for offering two-tier peacekeeping, doing Somalia on the cheap with African Union troops without the right equipment. Burundi, he said, is willing to send peacekeepers to Somalia, but lacks the air transport. 

Somalia, UN's "Responsibility to Protect" not shown

            The French mission began the morning by stressing that its navy has finally followed through on a promise from months ago, to escort World Food Program ships to Somalia. Inner City Press asked where the escorts join up with the WFP deliveries. From Mombassa to Mogadishu, the answer came back. Meanwhile, the UN's spokesperson's office told Inner City Press that no UN forces were involved in the recent freeing of kidnapped sailors.

            From Somalia itself, an Inner City Press correspondent has recently offered the following account, from

"lower Shabelle specifically in the regional capital of Marka (Merca)... There was fighting in the region and it spread to Marka. The fighting was between two groups of the TFG soldiers that were allied with different factions of the TFG administration in the region.  When the fighting stopped the TFG soldiers rounded up some young men from the city and detained them. Then eight bodies were dumped on the beach area of the city.  They had gunshot wounds but they also had their throats slit. People gathered there to see the mutilated bodies."

            Tuesday the Security Council is slated to debate "Civilians and Armed Conflict." We'll see.

* * *

Click here for a Reuters AlertNet piece by this correspondent about Uganda's Lord's Resistance Army. Click here for an earlier Reuters AlertNet piece about the Somali National Reconciliation Congress, and the UN's $200,000 contribution from an undefined trust fund.  Video Analysis here

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UN Office: S-453A, UN, NY 10017 USA Tel: 212-963-1439

Reporter's mobile (and weekends): 718-716-3540