From: Berhane Habtemariam (Berhane.Habtemariam@gmx.de)
Date: Thu Jul 09 2009 - 15:40:51 EDT
UN council warns Eritrea over Somalia insurgency
Thu Jul 9, 2009 5:36pm GMT
* Security Council 'deeply concerned'
* Critical moment for Somalia, U.N. official says
By Patrick Worsnip
UNITED NATIONS, July 9 (Reuters) - The U.N. Security Council warned Eritrea
on Thursday it would consider action against anyone undermining peace in
Somalia, in a threat of possible sanctions on Asmara for alleged support to
The warning, in a formal statement, followed an appeal by African Union
leaders last week to the 15-nation council to impose sanctions on Eritrea,
which the AU said was aiding Islamist insurgents fighting Somali government
Taking note of that request, the British-drafted statement said the council
was "deeply concerned in this regard and will consider expeditiously what
action to take against any party undermining the (Somali) peace process."
Arms supplies to anyone in Somalia except the government are banned by the
Security Council. Diplomats said any sanctions would be considered after a
U.N. group monitoring the embargo reports back later this month.
Al Qaeda-linked fighters belonging to the al Shabaab insurgent group control
much of southern and central Somalia and most of the capital Mogadishu. The
top U.N. political official, Lynn Pascoe, told the council it was "a
critical time for Somalia," where 1.3 million people are homeless.
Eritrean officials have denied supplying arms to Somali insurgents. But U.S.
Ambassador Susan Rice told the council Washington was "particularly
concerned about the financial, military, logistical and political support
that the government of Eritrea is offering to al Shabaab and other
Rice said the Eritreans had rebuffed repeated U.S. attempts to discuss the
issue. "But even now it's not too late. The United States calls on the
government of Eritrea to seize this window of opportunity to change course,"
French Ambassador Jean-Maurice Ripert also noted the insurgents were
reportedly receiving arms from Asmara and said France was prepared to
undertake sanctions against those blocking peace.
Pascoe and Security Council envoys urged U.N. member states to step up
support for Somalia's interim government and for a 4,300-strong AU force
that backs it. A Somalia donors' conference in Brussels pledged more than
$200 million in April.
"Without our support, Somalia risks becoming a lasting safe haven and
training ground for those plotting terrorist attacks around the world," Rice
In her speech to the council Rice said that despite a strong international
response to piracy off Somalia's coast, more countries needed to take
responsibility for prosecuting captured pirates.
Condemning the widespread practice of paying ransoms to pirates to win the
release of hijacked cargo ships, Rice also proposed creation of a group of
"no concession" states to work together to slow the rise of piracy. (Editing
by Bill Trott)
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