Lord Avebury:  Do the Government not think that Somaliland deserves rewarding in some way for being an oasis of stability and peace in the region which has recently demonstrated its commitment to democracy in holding successful parliamentary elections?
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Somalia
Lord Avebury asked Her Majesty's Government:
Whether they will propose that the United Nations Security Council should now take steps to restore lawful government in Somalia; and, if so, what steps they propose should be taken.
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Lord Triesman): My Lords, we support the efforts of the United Nations and the Intergovernmental Authority on Development to restore government to Somalia. They have achieved the Somali National Reconciliation Conference, the establishment of the Transitional Federal Parliament and the election of the speaker, president and government. The process remains fragile but offers the best prospect for peace and we shall continue to support it.

Lord Avebury: My Lords, does the Minister agree that the achievements that he has mentioned date back 15 months and that the persons who were then appointed to govern Somalia have left it to the mercy of terrorists and pirates? In view of the fact that the meetings now being held, or to be held, in Aden and Nairobi are between those same individuals, how can we have any faith in the process? Does the Minister agree that the Security Council should have a fallback plan in case the faction leaders fail to come to an agreement that enables the government to be properly installed in Mogadishu?

Lord Triesman: My Lords, whatever the difficulties, in our view the best prospect for restoring governance to Somalia requires that the Security Council remains the body responsible for the peace process. Resolutions and presidential statements over the past year have demonstrated the commitment. The concerns of the noble Lord, Lord Avebury, are well founded. The Transitional Federal Parliament has been slow to engage with the Mogadishu-based Ministers and it has been ambiguous on the ceasefire and the national security plan, all of which are central to the United Nations' plan. However, I can see no sensible alternatives at the moment—although some have been proposed—to the hard work that is going on to achieve the plan.
Lord Howell of Guildford: My Lords, I have two related questions for the Minister. I believe that the World Food Programme has so far about a quarter of what it needs for the starving people in southern
 
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Somalia. What contribution are HMG making to that? Have they moved beyond the 25 per cent volume needed, up to the full 64,000 tonnes of food required, for the starving in southern Somalia? Can the Minister also say something about the apparent smuggling of weapons through Ethiopia into Somalia, possibly at the instigation of Italian operators, which is prolonging the fighting and ensuring that, despite 13 attempts to get governance in the past 14 years, the next attempt is going to be difficult as well?

Lord Triesman: My Lords, I am aware of no direct evidence of Italian weapons being smuggled in that way. However, during the course of our presidency, we urged the Italians to take seriously their responsibilities to work together with all other European Union nations in achieving peace. They have had somewhat different policies in one or two key respects. On assistance, we intend to provide up to £13 million to Somalia in the financial year 2005–06. We contributed £420,000 to the reconciliation process and we are also providing assistance to the UN development programme to support the government's relocation to Somalia and the humanitarian relief operations. We shall provide more, if it is credible to do so, to a government who are properly established.

Lord Avebury: My Lords, on piracy, can the Minister say how many vessels were hijacked off the coast of Somalia in 2005? Is not the Kenyan navy trying to do what it can to solve this problem, and should it not have the support of the Security Council by a resolution endorsing its use of armed force where necessary, under Chapter 7 of the charter?

Do the Government not think that Somaliland deserves rewarding in some way for being an oasis of stability and peace in the region which has recently demonstrated its commitment to democracy in holding successful parliamentary elections?

Lord Triesman: My Lords, I cannot give precise figures for the incidents of piracy. However, as I understand it, some have been reported to a recent conference in Jakarta, and a ministerial summit is to take place in Tokyo this month so that proper attention from the G8 and the international community can be given to dealing with it. The International Maritime Organisation has drafted a resolution, which its secretary-general will submit to the United Nations Secretary-General in 2006, although we do not yet have a specified date.


Briefly, we are working very closely with Somaliland. Short of full recognition, we are encouraging Somaliland and its stability. We have taken the view—and I hope the House will agree—that rather than see further fragmentation, it is crucial that the African nations themselves take the lead on any further recognition of independent entities.

url: http://www.publications.parliament.uk/pa/ld199900/ldhansrd/pdvn/lds06/text/60116-01.htm#60116-01_star0


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