Somalia: UN Council seeks tighter Somali control of weapons

Published: May 23, 2014

UN Council seeks tighter Somali control of weapons

The UN Security Council on Thursday urged Somalia to do a better job keeping track of its arsenal of weapons, which in the past have fallen into the hands of Islamic militants.

“The Security Council remains concerned about the diversion of arms and ammunition, including potentially to al-Shabaab,” it said in a unanimous declaration.

The 15 member council called on Mogadishu to “consider establishing a joint verification team with international experts.”

“The team should focus on physical verification of arms and ammunition provided to the federal government, as well as the systems of control in place for arms and ammunition management,” the council said.

Improved measures to safeguard its arms would be in compliance with terms of a partial suspension last March of an arms embargo on Somalia, the council said.

The Security Council at that time extended a measure that eased a weapons ban in Somalia, but it tightened other restrictions, to try to prevent the arms from ending up in the hands of Islamist extremists.

The measure in March required that the Somali government meet strict conditions on monitoring arms imports, to prevent the weapons falling into the hand of the Al-Qaeda linked al-Shabaab militia.

Prior to easing the restrictions, UN experts responsible for monitoring the arms embargo on Somalia said there had been “systematic” cases of weapons ending up in the hands Somali chieftains, and sometimes al-Shabaab Islamist leaders.

The council nevertheless relaxed the weapons restrictions to allow the Somali government more firepower to combat the al-Shabaab movement.

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