Swan discusses if conflict in Somalia is UN’s biggest diplomatic failure
MOGADISHU, Somalia - The United Nations has refuted claims that it has failed in its quest to bring peace to Somalia, a country that has been battling terrorism and inter-clan conflicts for over three decades, amid criticism that the mission has failed substantially to restore peace in the country.
For almost thirty years, the UN has been supporting reconciliation missions in the country through several agencies, some of which have concentrated on improving the security and humanitarian assistance in the country, whose citizens live below the poverty index.
The head of UN mission in Somalia James Swan who has worked in the country for years told Al-Jazeera that the global body has made substantive gains in the quest for law and order in Somalia, adding that the gains are worth noting.
According to him, the United Nations through bodies such as the African Union has managed to degrade the Al-Shabaab militants, citing several towns that have been liberated from the Al-Shabaab, a group that swore allegiance to the Al-Qaida terror group which was predominantly in the Middle East.
"You can't say that the United Nations has failed in Somalia. It's through this mission that Al-Shabaab militants have been eliminated in several parts of the country through the African Union Mission Forces, who have worked in the country for the last decade," he said.
The African Union has close to 22,000 troops most of them who are paid by the United Nations and other partners in the country. Some of the member contributing nations include Ethiopia, Kenya, Uganda, Djibouti, and Burundi, which Uganda having the largest number of troops.
Further, Swan said that the UN has successfully mediated the political crisis which had bedeviled the country for decades, adding that the political class has often reached out to the UN for assistance in brokering truce on various contested political issues.
"We have been reaching out to politicians so that we can build consensus on some topical issues and to some extent, this has often worked. We are grateful that politicians have often worked with us for the sake of stability and development of Somalia."
Next year, get said, will be a critical moment for Somalia since the country will be holding both parliamentary and presidential elections. According to him, the Somali security forces will also be taking over security responsibilities once the Somali Transition Plan is fully implemented.