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Somali President urges UN to lift three-decade-long arms embargo

Thursday June 22, 2023

Somalia's President on Thursday urged the UN to lift the long-standing arms embargo that has hindered the country's fight against terrorism for more than three decades.

President Hassan Sheikh Mohamud said that Somalia, one of the world's poorest countries, needs access to weapons to combat terrorism and safeguard its citizens, especially due to a UN-mandated troop drawdown of the African Union Transition Mission in Somalia.

“Let me state clearly that Somalia of 2023 is not Somalia of 1992,” Mr Hassan told the Security Council.

In January 1992, the Security Council imposed a complete arms embargo on Somalia due to a raging civil war and a deteriorating humanitarian situation.

Mr Hassan called for a reassessment of the situation, highlighting the significant progress made in establishing an effective weapons and ammunition management system, guided by the benchmarks proposed by a UN technical team.

“I implore you, distinguished delegates, to support our call for the complete lift of the arms embargo on Somalia,” Mr Hassan said.

“By doing so, you will empower us to assert our sovereignty, effectively combat terrorism and build a peaceful and prosperous future for our nation.”

He stressed that the threat posed by terrorists in Somalia extends beyond the country itself, affecting the entire world.

The terrorist group Al Shabab has continued to wage deadly attacks in the country despite a major government offensive supported by troops sent by the AU.

The AU announced on Wednesday that it has started to reduce troop numbers in Somalia in line with UN resolutions that mandate a drawdown of 2,000 soldiers by the end of the month.

About a month ago, 54 Ugandan peacekeepers were killed in an attack by Al Shabab militants on an AU base to the south-west of Mogadishu. It was one of the deadliest attacks since the commencement of the offensive last year.

Adding to the grim toll, earlier this month, six civilians lost their lives during a six-hour siege at a beachside hotel in the heart of Mogadishu.

Sheikh Shakhbout bin Nahyan, Minister of State of the UAE – which holds the rotating Security Council presidency this month – expressed deep concern over the mounting assaults by Al Shabab, and noted that terrorism-related incidents in the first quarter of 2023 exceeded all previous quarterly averages since 2016.