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Somalia: UN Arms Embargo must stay in place

Amnesty International warned that armed groups such as al-Shabab could get their hands on more weapons if the United Nations Security Council agree to lift the arms embargo on Somalia later this week.

Despite improvements in security in some areas of the country, including in Mogadishu, civilians still face a high risk of being killed or injured during outbreaks of fighting, in air strikes, mortar shelling or through the use of suicide attacks and improvised explosive devices.

Amnesty International’s Arms Programme Director Oliver Sprague said:

“Lifting the arms embargo on Somalia would be premature. Without adequate safeguards on arms transfers, civilians will pay the price.
“Even with an arms embargo in place in Somalia, weapons are still being supplied to groups on all sides of the conflict and have been used to threaten, rape, maim and kill people. 

“This is exactly why tighter controls on the trade and transfer of weapons are so urgently needed, and why it’s so important that world leaders agree on a strong Arms treaty later this month.” 

During a recent Security Council debate on Somalia, Fowsiyo Yusuf Haji Adan, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs Government urged both financial and military support to consolidate peace and to help hold areas recovered from the control of armed groups. The Deputy Prime Minister also requested the arms embargo be lifted, stating her government’s intention of putting in place “the necessary mechanisms to ensure that armaments do not fall into the wrong hands”.

Although this intention is welcome, Amnesty believes that such mechanisms should be implemented first and that the Security Council should only proceed with the lifting of the arms embargo once they prove effective.

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