12 November 2007Deploying a United Nations peacekeeping operation to Somalia is not realistic or viable given the war-wracked African country’s security situation, the intensifying insurgency and the lack of progress towards any political reconciliation, Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon says. In his latest report on the situation in Somalia, Mr. Ban writes that conditions are so dire that it has not even been possible to send a technical assessment mission to the country.“Nevertheless, a strategic assessment of United Nations interventions in Somalia has been initiated, with a view to providing an integrated approach and framework for United Nations engagement in Somalia,” he says, including in maintaining support for the existing African Union Mission to the country, known as AMISOM.“Given the complex security situation in Somalia, it may be advisable to look at additional security options, including the deployment of a robust multinational force or coalition of the willing.“Such a force could initially be small and self-sustaining, growing over time with the achievement of specific security and political milestones. In due time, such a force could be built to a level that would enable Ethiopian forces [which are in Somalia to support the fragile Transitional Federal Government] to commence a partial, then complete withdrawal from the country.”Mr. Ban stresses that the UN continues to conduct a two-track approach to Somalia, by encouraging dialogue between the TFG and opposition groups with the aim of producing a cessation of hostilities and the creation of broad-based and inclusive public institutions, and by strengthening AMISOM to the point that would allow Ethiopian forces to withdraw and the emergence of some stability.But he notes the difficulties of implementing the approach in a country that has not had a functioning national government since 1991 and remains riddled with violence and humanitarian suffering.Most recently, fighting broke out in September in Laascaanood, the capital of the disputed Sool region, between forces loyal to the self-declared independent republic of Somaliland and the semi-autonomous region of Puntland, because of intra-clan tensions.The violence has only worsened since then, the Secretary-General reports, while in Mogadishu, the national capital, the security situation remains highly volatile, with daily attacks carried out by insurgents against the TFG and the Ethiopian forces.The UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) also reported today that another 24,000 Somalis have had to flee Mogadishu in the past week because of the deadly fighting.At least 51 civilians were killed and another 30 were wounded last Thursday and Friday alone, OCHA said in a statement, and an estimated 114,000 residents of Mogadishu have left the city this year. In total, some 850,000 people are now internally displaced across Somalia.OCHA warned that the grave situation was being made worse because the fighting had seriously curtailed the movement of humanitarian workers. Many of the people fleeing Mogadishu in recent weeks are now living in rudimentary roadside settlements and nearby villages, placing great strain on the resources of those communities.Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs John Holmes, who is also UN Emergency Relief Coordinator, said “civilians are more than ever bearing the brunt of the fighting in Mogadishu. I appeal to all those with guns, whether Government, insurgent, or Ethiopian troops, to refrain from indiscriminate and disproportionate attacks affecting civilians.”Ahmedou Ould-Abdallah, the Secretary-General’s Special Representative for Somalia, is holding meetings in Nairobi, the capital of neighbouring Kenya, with non-governmental organizations (NGOs) operating in Somalia and also civil society groups.In recent days he has also met with Somali President Abdullahi Yusuf and Ali Mahdi Mohammed, the Chairman of Somalia’s National Reconciliation Congress, to try to find a political solution to the crisis.