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Africa
Somali arms ban 'repeatedly broken'
UN reports criticises Yemen and Eritrea for role in supplying war-torn nation.
Last Modified: 20 Dec 2008 16:11 GMT
Somalia has been largely lawless since Siad Barre was removed from power in 1991 [File: EPA]

A 16-year embargo on arms shipments to Somalia has been repeatedly violated, according to a United Nations report.

The illegal trafficking of weapons is fuelling the conflict between government forces, Ethiopian troops and armed opposition groups, with supplies financed by Eritrea arriving from Yemen, the UN report published on Friday read.

"Most serviceable weapons and almost all ammunition currently available in the country have been delivered since 1992, in violation of the embargo," the UN group monitoring the embargo said in the report.
  
"Commercial imports, mainly from Yemen, remain the most consistent source of arms, ammunition and military material to Somalia."

Armed opposition groups have retaken control of large areas of the Horn of Africa nation, launching near daily attacks on the transitional government forces and their Ethiopian allies.

The report said breaches in the embargo are being financed from sources
"including the government of Eritrea, private donors in the Arab and Islamic world and organised fund-raising activities among Somali diaspora groups".

Ethiopia and Eritrea, which have been accused of fighting a proxy-war in Somalia, have been in dispute over their shared border since a bloody conflict ended in 2000.

Criminal gangs

The report said that criminal gangs, including pirates operating off the coast, were adding to the lawlessness in the country and are "typically self-financing, employing the proceeds from piracy and kidnapping to procure arms, ammunition and equipment".

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"Some of these groups now rival or surpass established Somali authorities in terms of their military capabilities and resource bases," it said.

Earlier this week, the UN Security Council passed a resolution authorising the use of land operations against Somali pirates, who have captured dozens of ships and held hundreds of crew members for ransom over the past year.

The Security Council on Friday voted for the mandate of the monitoring group, which recommends groups and individuals who should be blacklisted for their role in the arms trade, to be extended for another year.

Somalia's transitional government, which is based in the central town of Baidoa because of the security situation in the capital Mogadishu, has effective control over only a small part of the country.  

Somalia has had no effective government since a coup removed Siad Barre from power in 1991, leading to an almost total breakdown in law and order.

Source:
Agencies
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