UN security council lifts decades-old arms embargo on Somalia

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UN Security Council
UN Security Council

The United Nations (UN) security council has voted to remove the restrictions on weapons sales to Somalia, more than 30 years after a ban was first imposed on the country.

In 1992, the security council imposed an embargo on Somalia to disrupt the supply of weapons to warring warlords who had ousted Mohamed Siad Barre, leading to the country’s descent into civil war.

Al-Shabaab, a group aligned to al-Qaeda, had seized control of southern and central parts of Somalia before Ethiopian, Kenyan, and African Union (AU) peacekeeping troops undertook a counter-offensive in 2011, supported by the United States.

In 2013, the UN security council partially lifted the ban for a year, allowing the government to buy light arms to help in its fight against Islamist militants.

On Friday, the 15-member body adopted two British-drafted resolutions: to remove the full arms ban and to reimpose an arms embargo on the al Qaeda-linked militants.

“For the avoidance of doubt, that there is no arms embargo on the Government of the Federal Republic of Somalia,” the resolution said.

The resolution also expressed concerns about the number of safe ammunition storage facilities in Somalia and encouraged the construction, refurbishment and use of safe ammunition depots across the country.

Abukar Osman, Somalia’s ambassador to the UN, said the decision would allow the government to effectively tackle terrorism.

“The lifting of the arms embargo enables us to confront security threats,” Osman said.

“It also allows us to bolster the capacity of the Somali security forces by accessing lethal arms and equipment to adequately safeguard our citizens and our nation.”

The UN security council also asked foreign countries to support Somalia in its fight against terrorism in accordance with the body’s decision.

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