TOPICS > World

AU Head Calls for Peacekeepers to Stay in Somalia

BY Admin  January 18, 2008 at 4:30 PM EST

Somali troops

About 6,500 civilians were killed and more than 600,000 have fled their homes since fighting erupted last year.

“It is my earnest hope that the Peace and Security Council … adopt my recommendation to extend the mandate of AMISOM for another period of six months,” Konare said in a report on Somalia, Reuters reported.

Currently, 1,800 African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM) troops are in the country — slightly more than half the authorized strength, according to Konare. The AU had planned to deploy over 8,000 troops, but African nations have not sent the necessary forces. Uganda and Burundi are the only African nations with troops in Somalia.

Konare also criticized the international community for not providing the AU force the financial means to conduct its mission, and he asked the Union Nations to send its own force to replace AMISOM.

“In spite of numerous appeals made by the AU echoed by the U.N. Security Council in several resolutions, the financial and logistical support mobilized so far is far short of what is required to fully deploy the mission,” he said.

In addition, he urged the transitional government, lead by President Abdullahi Yusuf, to call on Somalis to reject the violence that started when Yusuf’s government drove a radical Islamic group from power with Ethiopia’s help.

Konare’s recommendation for the extension came the same week that Islamic militants fired mortar shells and guns at Ethiopian and Somali troops in Mogadishu, killing 20 and wounding upwards of 100 civilians.

“We heard the gunfire. Mortars landed and we started to flee to a nearby concrete building,” said resident Mahad Farah, according to the Associated Press. “A mortar landed and killed two people who were also running beside me.”

Civilians reported that mortar shells fell on homes, killing those inside, and hospitals reported that they were running short on beds for the wounded.