Plea for Somalia funding at UN crisis summit

A soldier of the African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM)
Image caption The African Union force in Somalia currently has a ceiling of 8,000 troops

The African Union has appealed for funds to increase its force in Somalia amid a crisis summit in New York.

AU executive chairman Jean Ping said Uganda would provide troops to increase the AU force from 8,000 to 20,000, but money was needed to pay and equip them.

"We're asking the international community to take the responsibility in giving us things," Mr Ping said.

UN chief Ban Ki-moon organised the summit to discuss Somalia's deepening political and security crisis.

Earlier this week, the prime minister resigned from the weak UN-backed transitional government, led by moderate Islamist President Sheikh Sharif Ahmed.

The government, backed by a 6,000-strong African Union force, controls only small parts of the capital.

'Lost opportunities'

In a speech opening the mini-summit, Mr Ban said leaders of the transitional government "must overcome their internal differences, strengthen the security forces and complete the transitional tasks".

The secretary-general said the government should also focus on delivering basic services to the Somali people, "pay salaries to the security forces and continue efforts to build up the security sector".

Mr Ban said the AU force, known as AMISOM, was "nearing its planned strength of 8,000 troops and is holding its ground".

"I appreciate the generous contributions made by donors, but serious funding gaps remain, both to the government and to AMISOM," he said.

President Sheikh Sharif Ahmed told the meeting that Somalia needed urgent assistance in building up its security forces so they can stand up to Islamist militants who control much of the country.

He also called for reinforcements for the African Union peacekeepers in Somalia.

The mini-summit on Somalia was organised on the sidelines of the United Nations General Assembly in New York.

President Mwai Kibaki, of neighbouring Kenya, told the General Assembly that the security situation in Somalia "continues to deteriorate and threaten peace and stability across the entire region and beyond".

He called Somalia the greatest threat to international peace and security of any conflict in the world and expressed "great concern" at the international community's "benign neglect" of Somalia and "the perceived reluctance" of the UN Security Council to take on the Somali problem.

This has led to "many lost opportunities to resolve the crisis," Mr Kibaki said.

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