Denies Paying Child Soldiers of Somali TFG, Safeguards and UN Role Not
June 15 -- Since the Transitional Federal Government was
installed in Somalia, it has been known that it controlled its small
turf by using child soldiers. The US provided salaries, the UN system
Ambassador to the UN Claude Heller told Inner City Press on June 15,
when a 12 year old with an enormous AK 47 is on the front page of the
New York Times, what had been accepted changes. See video here.
Heller is the
president of UN Security Council for June, and will chair a meeting
on June 16 on children and armed conflict. After Inner City Press
asked him about the TFG, Heller replied off camera that the issue
will be raised on June 16.
Inner City Press asked but the UN and US diplomats about the issues.
Carolyn Vadino, a spokesperson at the US Mission to the UN, told
Inner City Press that
States is firmly against the use of child soldiers by all
sides in any conflict. U.S. assistance provides salary support to TFG
security forces. Prior to making payments to any individual member of
these forces we take appropriate steps to verify the ages of such
individuals to ensure that we are not funding salaries of anyone
under the age of 18."
in a war-torn
environmental like Mogadishu the US claims full control over the
payments to individual soldiers is not known. Another US official,
speaking only on background, referred to safeguards in "the
Leahy amendment." Clearly, there are more questions to be asked
Lovefest with TFG, May 2010, UN's Ban,
Kouchner, Turks, child soldiers not shown
the June 15 noon
briefing, Inner City Press asked
UN Associate Spokesman Farhan Haq:
Press: on Somalia, there is this report of the use by the
Transitional Federal Government (TFG) of child soldiers, and this
includes quotes from the UN saying that they’re aware of it. Since
the UN provides training and some funding for the TFG forces, the UN
system does, I’m wondering what safeguards are in place that the UN
itself has not been either training or funding or otherwise involved
in the use of child soldiers by the TFG?
Haq: Certainly the United Nations does not approve of
the use of child soldiers anywhere, and we would not encourage any of
that in its operations. If I have any further information on the
specifics of that, I’ll let you know. But certainly, among other
things, tomorrow, we will have as one of the guests at the noon
briefing, Radhika Coomaraswamy, who deals with this issue and you can
certainly ask that of her as well.
watch this site.
the UN's North Lawn building on June 14, Inner City Press was
approached by two Somali woman, in from Minneapolis for a conference
on the Millennium Development Goals. Inner City Press was
Minneapolis, getting reaction from the Somali diaspora to the UN's
replacement of the generally unpopular Ahmedou Ould Abdallah with
Tanzania's Ambassador to the UN Augustine Mahiga.
two women on
Monday asked how to arrange a meeting to Mahiga, to tell him of
Somalia's plight before he takes up his post in Nairobi. They spoke
of the lack of opportunity for children in Mogadishu. But these are
not voices that will be heard in Wednesday's Security Council
session. But afterward and on the sidelines, there will be questions
- perhaps even answers.
* * *
UN's Moves, from Twin Cities to West Bank
10 -- People with no assurance of ever returning home
follow politics more closely than those who've never left. Hassan, a
Somali living in the Minneapolis neighborhood called the West Bank --
of the Mississippi River -- asked
bitterly why the United Nations
sent Ahmedou Ould Abdallah and now "the Tanzanian"
Augustine Mahiga, as envoy to his homeland. "Who not a Somali?"
Hassan asked Inner City Press on June 10. "Are we not good
Safari Express, an East African take out restaurant, in the Midtown
Global Market in south Minneapolis. Over a plate of chicken suqqar,
he recounted to Inner City Press how the civil war in his country
makes it impossible to return. Some, he said, return only to fight,
usually for Al Shaabab, "The Youth."
Chicago and Lake neighborhood, women in veils walk in front of liquor
stores and half abandoned buildings. The Ugbaad Cafe is closed and
boarded up, across the street from one of Minneapolis' Peavy Parks.
Two blocks further south, traversed on one of Minneapolis' bikes to
rent and share, nurses are picketing Children's Hospital.
rental bike?" a Somali calls out to Inner City Press. Yes it is.
From 11th and Marquette out to 30th and Lake is less than 20 minutes.
The same to the West Bank and Riverside.
It is June in
and aging rock bands play for free. There is a statue for Mary Tyler
Moore. Make it, Mary Tyler Moore in Mogadishu. "Don't go there,"
Hassan advises Inner City Press. "They kidnap you for money."
Ruins in Somalia, West Bank (of Minneapolis) not shown
fact, Inner City
Press traveled with the UN Security Council and Ould Abdallah to
Djibouti in 2008. Ministers of the Transitional Federal Government,
some from Minnesota, stayed in the expensive Kempinsky Hotel and
assigned themselves positions.
control four square blocks in
Mogadishu. The view of them from Riverside, from Minneapolis Somalis,
is less than positive. "We need our country back," Hassan
said over chicken. Then he smiled and went back behind the counter.
* * *
Handed from Ould Abdallah to Mahiga, of Yemen's G-77
-- The UN's envoy on Somalia Ahmedou Ould Abdallah,
who called for a moratorium on press reporting of civilian deaths in
Mogadishu and cut a stealth deal about Somali off shore rights with
Kenya and Norway, has been relieved of his functions.
Inner City Press that he was being replaced by Tanzania's
current Permanent Representative to the UN, Augustine Mahiga. The
affable Ambassador Mahiga has been seeking a UN job for some time. He
put himself up for the number two post in the UN Development Program,
running against his own foreign minister. Secretary General Ban
Ki-moon and UNDP's Helen Clark bypassed the African Group and gave to
post to Rebecca Grynspan of Costa Rica.
June 4, rather
than simply write the story without receiving confirmation, Inner
City Press asked
Spokesperson Marie Okabe:
is leaving in July and seeks to remain as
an adviser to the Secretary-General. I just want you to confirm that
he is leaving, and to confirm or deny that Augustine Mahiga, the
Tanzanian ambassador, is going to be named the SRSG
[Secretary-General’s Special Representative].
nothing on any appointments.
Ould-Abdallah has said publicly that he is leaving
in July. Is that the case?
nothing on that.
nothing on appointments for Somalia today.
Press knew it to be true, confirmation was sought from
Mahiga himself. The Tanzanian Mission said he was in Europe thought
June 18, but they would ask him (the staffer said, "that is good
news"). But Mahiga, who previously asked Inner City Press to
email him articles, did not respond.
Inner City Press publicly asked about Mahiga and Somalia,
Ban Ki-moon has formally named Mahiga to the Somalia post, which is
actually based in Nairobi, Kenya.
Mahiga, stars and bars behind him, TFG not shown
9, before the confirmation, Inner City Press asked
Spokesperson Farhan Haq if the UN had consulted with
the Transitional Federal Government about Mahiga. Haq said yes --
but we'll have more on this.
say that Mahiga is
"so pro American, he'll make it all about counter - terrorism."
Then again, that has already been the UN's approach.
the UN way for a diplomat to seek a Secretariat job is for he or
she -- almost always he -- to beginning selling out his Group and
even his country, in exchange for the coming favor. The Secretariat
uses the needs and wants of Permanent Representatives to obtain
certain actions or forbearance in the budget committee -- which has
continued meeting this week, despite the announced conclusion in May
-- the General Assembly and in this case the peacebuilding
placed source told Inner City Press. "With
all of the conflicts and problems, you might expect the UN to name an
envoy or otherwise get involved. But since Yemen managed to head the
Group of 77 this year, they use that leverage to tell the UN to do
nothing. In exchange for which, the Group of 77 does not move to hold
Ban accountable." Watch this site.