Arms smuggling rife in Somalia despite UN embargo, claims reportBy PATRICK MAYOYO | Thursday, August 11 2011 at 09:55
Arms are still being smuggled into Somalia despite a United Nations embargo, a report released by an international security think tank yesterday indicates.
According to the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI) arms continue to be illegally brought in from Yemen into Somalia as imports which end up with Somali opposition and criminal groups.
"Arms purchases by opposition groups have reportedly been facilitated by financing from Eritrea, private donors and Somali diaspora groups,” the report says.
It adds Transitional Federal Government forces are also considered a major source of arms for non-state armed groups in Somalia.
In 2008 the UN Monitoring Group estimated that as much as 80 per cent of the arms, ammunition and other materiel supplied to support the transitional government had been diverted for private purposes or either to the Somali arms market or to opposition groups.
"Judging by reports of the UN Monitoring Group on Somalia, non-state actors in Somalia have acquired arms and ammunition from a variety of sources and by a variety of channels.
"In general such acquisitions have involved low volumes of ammunition, small arms and light weapons (SALW) and a few heavier, crew-served infantry weapons such as portable anti-aircraft and anti-tank weapons,” the report adds.
The think tank says that some supplies have been provided directly by backers in neighbouring states in particular, Eritrea is thought to have supplied arms
and other assistance to Somali opposition groups.
“Commercial arms markets in Somalia have flourished openly despite the embargo and are important sources of arms and ammunition for non-state actors and criminal groups,” it adds.
The report shows that captured transitional government and AU peacekeepers' stockpiles are another source of arms and ammunition for opposition groups.
It has been reported that Ethiopian, TFG and AMISOM personnel have sold materiel to non-state groups. In 2005 the Monitoring Group reported that Eritrea had supported and armed groups in Somalia fighting the government.
The Monitoring Group’s March 2010 report also states that Eritrea has provided significant and sustained political, financial and material support, including arms, ammunition and training, to armed opposition groups in Somalia since at least 2007.
“Eritrea’s involvement is generally described as an attempt to counter Ethiopian influence in the region, especially because it perceives the
TFG as a proxy for the Ethiopian Government,” the report adds.
In 2008 the Eritrean Government claimed that it pursued a policy of non-interference in Somali affairs and denied Monitoring Group allegations that it had armed opposition groups.
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