UN Council Authorizes More Troops for Somalia Mission

The United Nations Security Council approved sending additional troops to Somalia to deter the Islamist al-Shabaab militia from expanding in the country and the wider region.

The 15-member council yesterday adopted a resolution approving an increase of more than 4,000 troops for the African Union mission in Somalia, logistical support from the UN to the Somali army and deployment of a UN security unit to protect UN compounds in the country.

The resolution comes four days after the insurgency linked to al-Qaeda bombed a hotel in Mogadishu, the latest in series of terror attacks which included a June strike against a UN compound in the Somali capital and the four-day siege of a Kenyan shopping mall in September that killed at least 67 civilians and security personnel.

“As recent attacks show, al-Shabaab continues to pose a threat, not just to Somalia but to the wider region,” Mark Lyall Grant, the U.K.’s envoy to the UN, told reporters in New York. “Now was the right time for the Security Council to act.”

Forces, Helicopters

The resolution will boost the number of African Union security personnel to 22,126 for as long as two years and underscored the force’s need for as many as 12 military helicopters, according to a statement e-mailed today by the UN.

The added resources will help prepare Somalia’s army to eventually take over the country’s security without outside help, Prime Minister Abdi Farah Shirdon said in an e-mailed statement.

“This will allow the Somali National Army alongside Amisom to expand their scope and area of operations,” he said. “The long-term security and stability of Somalia will ultimately lie with the Somali national security forces.”

Establishing security in Somalia is key to thwarting al-Shabaab’s expansion, and the international community must help boost the Somali government’s ability to defend itself against the insurgency, Deputy Secretary-General Jan Eliasson told the Security Council last month after a trip to Mogadishu.

The “significant increase” of troops should allow the African Union mission, known as Amisom, to “take the front foot and gain momentum in tackling al-Shabaab,” Grant said.

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