Wednesday, 17 October 2012

Operation at Kismayo pick up as UN urged to lift ban on charcoal trade

Kenyan troops in the UN-backed Africa Union peacekeeping mission in Somalia (AMISOM) said on Wednesday operations at the port of Kismayo was
picking up after the capture of the key from Al-Shabaab city two weeks ago.

Kenya Defence Forces (KDF) said relative peace was also steadily returning to the port city once the bastion of the militants as residents appealed to the United Nations to
lift ban on charcoal it imposed early this year. "Seaport operations are picking up as residents appeal to the UN to lift the ban on charcoal business," KDF said in its official
Twitter account on Wednesday. The charcoal business had become Al-Shabaab's most lucrative source of income, according to the UN Monitoring Group on Somalia and

The KDF which is part of the AMISOM forces that have been strategizing for ways of setting up an all inclusive local administration to run the port city said the soldiers are
still continuing with efforts to stabilize security situation in Kismayo. "Collaboration with residents has aided in arrests of several militants. A few more have surrendered
and so far there are no casualties on AMISOM forces," it said.KDF spokesman Colonel Cyrus Oguna said last week more militants were still surrendering to AMISOM forces
as the troops mull ways of setting up an inclusive administration that will run the port city.

The port city of Kismayo, Al-Shabaab's only remaining stronghold was captured by Kenyan soldiers and other allied forces on Sept. 28 after a spirited gunfire between the
insurgents and AMISOM forces.The militant group has also come under pressure from Uganda, Burundi and Sierra Leone soldiers who have pushed out them out of the
outskirts of Somali capital Mogadishu and other key regions they used to control 2 years ago.Analysts say the loss of the seaport is a major blow to the Al- Shabaab who
once extorted much of their revenue from traders and businesses utilizing the facility.The latest development comes as the Africa Union and UN special envoy has called on
the UN Security Council to approve funding for a naval component of the AU forces fighting to stabilise the Horn of African nation.

According to UN news release, UN Secretary-General's Special Representative to Somalia Augustine P. Mahiga told the UN Security Council on Tuesday that it was essential
that AMISOM is supported to control more effectively the coastal waters around Mogadishu, Marka, Baraawe and Kismayo, in order to protect its own forces, supply lines,
interrupt Al-Shabaab re-supply lines and effectively secure the ports for commercial use. The AU requested that the Council authorize a technical rollover of the current
support package for AMISOM whose current mandate for which expires on Oct. 31 – for four additional months, until February 2013, with some slight adjustments "to
take into account pressing issues on the ground.

According to a letter before the Council, this includes requests for the deployment of an additional 50 civilian personnel across the Mission area, as well as a maritime
component, taking into consideration "the critical role of naval assets for the effective implementation of the AMISOM mandate and the stabilization of Somalia." Kenya is
the only African nation known to be contributing naval support for AMISOM. But Kenyan naval units have not been formally integrated into AMISOM, which is funded
largely by the United States and European Union under UN auspices.  Mahiga said that his office had begun a consultative process to review the future presence of the UN
in Somalia, and that this would be led by the needs and expectations of the Somalis.  "Funding is drying up, less than one year after famine raged and despite negative
humanitarian indicators, he noted. "I urge the international partners to sustain and expand their assistance to Somalia, to prevent it from sliding back into famine and
misery," he said.

Kismayo, with a population of about 200,000 people is the third largest city of Somalia which is considered the hub of the militant group which formally merged with the
dreaded global terror network, the Al-Qaida, after several years of pledging loyalty and ideological similarities.  Kenya blames Al-Shabaab for the kidnappings of foreigners,
and fears its tourist and business economy will be destroyed if it allows the insurgents to go on unchallenged.   Kenya has appealed to Somalis and those in the Diaspora to
embrace peace say no to agents of terror and prepare for the hard work of national reconstruction.    Kenya has also put security in key towns on a high alert following
Kenya's military operations in Somalia which sparked threats from the Al-Shabaab group that it will retaliate deep in Kenya.  (Xinhua)

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