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World neglecting Somalia security threat: Kenya

Last Updated: Saturday, September 18, 2010 - 13:47

New York: The international community is neglecting the security threat from Somalia, Kenyan Foreign Minister Moses Wetangula said on Friday, suggesting that the United States wanted to avoid a repeat of a failed 1992 military intervention.

The festering Somali conflict is failing to get global attention, losing out to Sudan, the war in Afghanistan, the bid for peace in the Middle East and the fight against drugs in Mexico, Wetangula said in an interview in New York.

The virtually lawless country is the biggest security threat in the Horn of Africa as Islamist al Shabaab insurgents fight to topple Somalia`s Western-backed administration, he said.

"We know ... how much the United States is pumping into Afghanistan, we`re told a couple of billion dollars daily. The East African region is asking for USD 500 million, not daily, not monthly, not yearly, one-off" to stabilise Somalia, he said.

When asked why he believed Somalia was being ignored, he said: "Your guess is as good as mine. For the United States, maybe the embarrassment they suffered when they went there, I don`t know. Maybe that`s what is informing their policy."

The United States says it is committed to helping Somalia`s government fight back Islamist rebels and to support African Union peacekeepers with equipment, training and logistical support.

But it has not had a presence in Somalia since 1994 after leading a failed UN intervention which began as a military food-aid effort in 1992. It withdrew after the killing of US troops in late 1993, depicted in the movie "Black Hawk Down”.

UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon has urged UN member states "to provide urgent military and financial support and other resources" to the Somali government and has organised a high-level meeting on Somalia on September 23 on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly`s annual gathering of world leaders.

About 7,200 AU peacekeepers from Uganda and Burundi are deployed in Mogadishu and focus on guarding the airport and seaport and shielding President Sheikh Sharif Ahmed from the militants.

Bureau Report

First Published: Saturday, September 18, 2010 - 13:47

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