Category: Somalia

UN Security Counsil: global response needed to counter rising security threats at sea.

Despite an overall decrease in maritime traffic due to the COVID-19 pandemic, piracy and armed robbery of ships rose by nearly 20 per cent during the first half of last year, a senior UN official told the Security Council on Monday. 

Addressing a high-level debate on enhancing security for seafarers, Maria Luiza Ribeiro Viotti, the UN Secretary-General’s Chef de Cabinet, highlighted the need for stronger international cooperation. 

Incidents in Asia have nearly doubled, while West Africa, the Straits of Malacca,Singapore, and the South China Sea, were the most affected areas, she said. 

The “unprecedented” levels of insecurity in the Gulf of Guinea, and more recently in the Persian Gulf and Arabian Sea, were also particularly concerning. 

The open debate was organized by India, which holds the rotating presidency of the UN Security Council this month. 

For the country’s Prime Minister, Narendra Modi, oceans are “our shared global commons” and the “lifeline” of international trade.  

The UN estimates that more than three billion people worldwide, mainly in developing countries, depend on the ocean for their livelihood and well-being. 

“However, today this common maritime heritage of ours faces various types of threats,” said Mr. Modi.

“Maritime routes are being misused for piracy and terrorism.

There are maritime disputes between several countries.

And climate change and natural disasters are also challenges to the maritime domain.”  

Ms. Viotti highlighted legal instruments that uphold maritime security, such as the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea. 

“But this framework is only as strong as countries’ commitment to full and effective implementation,” she stressed.

“We need to translate commitment into action.” 

The UN has welcomed moves by the international community to strengthen cooperation on maritime security.  

The Organization also supports regional initiatives, including to fight piracy off the coast of Somalia and to try and cut down on the armed robbery of ships in Asia, according UN News.

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UN: call for urgent action following ‘alarming’ 80 per cent rise in sexual violence in Somalia.

An “alarming” 80 per cent increase in sexual violence in Somalia, as documented in two recent reports by the Secretary-General Antonio Guterres, has been described as “appalling” by two UN Special Representatives.

“We urge all parties to the conflict in Somalia to immediately cease these violations”, the Special Representative for Children and Armed Conflict, Virginia Gamba, and the Special Representative on Sexual Violence in Conflict, Pramila Patten said in a statement. 

The reports (the Report of the Secretary-General on Children and Armed Conflict and the Report of the Secretary-General on Sexual Violence in Conflict.) documented that in 2020, 400 civilians, primarily girls, were victims of rape and other forms of sexual violence.

This represented an almost 80 per cent increase compared to 2019.

More than 100 cases of sexual violence against girls were verified by the UN in the first quarter of 2021.

Perpetrators often exploited the vulnerability of displaced girls, targeting them when they left camps to perform domestic chores, the reports noted. 

The report linked sexual violence to the prevailing conditions of insecurity in Somalia.

This was marked by political tensions in the run-up to national elections, inter-communal clashes related to land-based disputes, and a surge in extremist militant group Al-Shabaab’s activities, which intensified during the COVID-19 pandemic.

In addition to the temporary suspension of security and judicial services, the pandemic also disrupted access to education and services for survivors.

Cases of sexual violence ​​attributed to Al-Shabaab has doubled, the report found, describing how the Islamist militant group continues to use sexual violence and forced marriage to dominate areas under their de facto control.

Violations carried out by clan militia has also almost tripled over the past year. These have been linked to a proliferation of small arms and light weapons.

In the vast majority of cases, the culprits remain unidentified, which perpetuates the cycle of impunity.

The two senior UN experts also expressed serious concern that over 15 per cent of all cases of sexual violence verified, were attributed to the government security forces.

Both the Somali National Army and the Somali Police Force, as well as regional forces, committed acts of rape and other forms of sexual violence against women and children, according UN News.

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