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UN's New Somalia Report Cites Charcoal, Somaliland Tensions, UNSOM

By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS, May 12 -- In the advance copy of the UN's report on Somalia, to be issued as S/2014/330, Secretary General Ban Ki-moon says he is "concerned about the potential for confrontation between Puntland and 'Somaliland.' I call on both sides to avoid escalating tensions."

   Many note that Somaliland, without the quotation marks Ban puts around it, has been more peaceful than Mogadishu for some time - and that the UN system raised tensions by, for example, handing Somaliland's airspace to Mogadishu.

  Ban's report also says he remains "concerned about the continued export of Somali charcoal" and encourages "the Security Council Committee on Somalia and Eritrea to list the responsible individuals and entities."

  These advance copies have been known to be changed before "final" release, in a process for which a description, and then proposals for reform, were provided here and then here.

 In this advance copy, Ban "strongly recommend[s] to the Council an extension of the mandate of UNSOM for one year to 3 June 2015."

When on April 23 UNSOM envoy Nicholas Kay along with AMISOM head Mahamat Saleh Annadif took questions at the UN, Inner City Press asked them about the new Ugandan guard unit, about the Somalia Eritrea Monitoring Group and about Somaliland including its disputed airspace. Video here from Minute 14:23.

  Kay said, "at the moment we're absolutely clear obviously on the international legal position vis-a-vis Somaliland, it's not a recognized state by anyone. But they have a very strong sense of their own statehood and aspirations to independence."

  Kay referred to the Turkey-facilitated talks between Somaliland and the Somali government in Mogadishi, including about airspace. He said that UN funds and programs operate in Somaliland. But UNSOM does not: Somaliland points to the mandate it was given by the Security Council.

  On the Ugandan guard unit, Kay said they will protect the UN but work with AMISOM. But in March, AMISOM spokesperson Ali Aden Houmed was quoted by Voice of America that "we do not have the fact of what these forces are and they are not part of us... UN and Uganda had been conducting 'a secret negotiation.'" Neither Kay nor Mahamat Saleh Annadif addressed this.

  On sanctions, after Kay recounted improvements in reporting and "information" that are underway, Inner City Press asked if the Somali letter requesting the ouster of SEMG coordinator Chopra has been withdrawn. Kay said he has not seen the letter. Well here it is: Inner City Press exclusively obtained, reported and published it. Has it been withdrawn?

Footnotes: Particularly in light of media freedom issues in Somalia -- and in Somaliland, on which the Free UN Coalition for Access has worked -- we note that the UN on April 23 automatically gave the first question to the UN Correspondents Association, a group which has tried to get the investigative Press thrown out of the UN.

  But the question by UNCA's president included how many Burundi troops are there -- no mention of the UN's own warning about the distribution of weapons by Burundi's government to its youth wing -- and in mistaking the US Institute of Peace, where Kay spoke this week, with the International Peace Institute, most recently reviewed here and here.

 In April UNCA or the UN's Censorship Alliance has tried to privatize access to the incoming South Korean presidency of the Security Council in May, positioning itself as middle-man even after FUNCA's inquiry and RSVP find that the statement an event is for UNCA members only, or now only through UNCA, is false. Preaching press freedom from this UN is difficult. Watch this site.


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