Ethiopia urges U.N. to deploy Somalia peacekeepers

September 30th, 2008 | by addis portal |

By Haitham Haddadin

UNITED NATIONS (Reuters) – Ethiopia demanded on Monday that the U.N. Security Council deploy peacekeeping troops soon in neighbouring Somalia, where a conflict has killed and displaced thousands of people since last year.

“We urge the United Nations Security Council to discharge its responsibility by deploying a peacekeeping mission in Somalia as soon as possible or, at least, to allocate the necessary resources to strengthen AMISOM,” Ethiopian Foreign Minister Seyoum Mesfin told the U.N. General Assembly.

He was referring to the African Union peacekeeping mission in Somalia, where 8,000 civilians have been killed and 1 million uprooted since early last year in fighting pitting transitional government and Ethiopian forces against Eritrea-backed Islamist rebels.

The Security Council recently rejected a request from Somalia to send a U.N. peacekeeping force, saying it might do so when conditions there had improved. But it asked U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon to step up contingency planning for such a force.

The foreign minister of Ethiopia’s longtime rival Eritrea, Osman Saleh, said Addis Ababa and its ally, Washington, were largely to blame for the humanitarian crisis.

“The tragedy in Somalia is another extremely grave humanitarian situation that has been exacerbated, if not brought about, essentially because of wrong U.S. policies,” Saleh told the U.N. General Assembly.

“U.S. warplanes occasionally pulverize Somali villages in the name of the war on terrorism,” Saleh added.

Some 850,000 Somalis have fled Mogadishu since early 2007, according to U.N. figures.

AMISOM had authorized the deployment of 8,000 troops to Somalia but now has only 2,600 on the ground.

Mesfin praised the deployment of troops from Uganda and Burundi in AMISOM and urged others to follow suit.

He said his country was encouraged by the latest positive political developments in Somalia. A peace deal was signed in August at U.N.-led talks in Djibouti but it has been rejected by hard-liners and did not stop the fighting.

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