Al-Shabaab has stepped up its terror attacks in recent months, demonstrating its “resilience and adaptability” despite “internal squabbles and fracturing,” the United Nations chief says in a new report.
A total of 134 civilian deaths and 200 injuries were attributed to Shabaab or “unidentified persons” in the first four months of this year – a 47 per cent increase from the same period last year, UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres told the Security Council on Friday.
KDF SOLDIERS KILLED
Somali security forces and the African Union Mission in Somalia (Amisom) accounted for a combined total of 74 civilian deaths during the past four months, the UN leader added.
Al-Shabaab is also reported to have killed more than 30 Kenyan troops in a January 27 “complex attack” on a military base near Kulbiyow in Somalia’s Lower Juba region.
“The exact figure remains unknown,” Mr Guterres states without offering a reason for the uncertainty.
That incident is described in the report as the most serious in a series of frequent Shabaab attacks on Amisom and Somali troops in rural sections of central and southern Somalia.
“Al-Shabaab remains a potent threat.
“The group’s tactical evolution and growing level of sophistication in its execution of complex terrorist operations in urban and rural settings are a testament to that,” the secretary-general observes.
Mr Guterres also cites a need to “provide Amisom with predictable support in order to increase its effectiveness and facilitate its joint operations”.
He points out that 95 per cent of Amisom’s roughly 21,000 troops have not been vaccinated against cholera, even though an outbreak of the potentially fatal disease is underway in some of the areas where Amisom personnel are located.
Secretary-General Guterres’ report includes an optimistic assessment of political developments in Somalia.
The peaceful election of a new president is viewed as the high point in “a sequence of remarkable events, which gives the people of Somalia and the international community considerable hope for the future of the country”.
“Somalia now has a new federal government that has been welcomed across clan lines.
“The government must build on this vote of confidence in dealing with its many urgent priorities, including drought response, security, public finance management, fighting corruption, increasing revenues and advancing the constitutional review,” the report states.
DROUGHT AND FAMINE
The report adds that “the humanitarian situation remains deeply worrying and could become worse still.
“It has the potential to derail political developments and the legitimacy, in the eyes of the public, of federal and state institutions and office holders.”
More than six million Somalis – half the population – remain in urgent need of food aid, the report notes.
The threat of famine continues despite large infusions of aid by donor nations and charitable groups, Mr Guterres warns.
By KEVIN J. KELLEY