The United Nations (UN) security council has voted to remove
the restrictions on weapons sales to Somalia, more than 30 years after a ban
was first imposed on the country.
In 1992, the security council imposed an embargo on Somalia
to disrupt the supply of weapons to warring warlords who had ousted Mohamed
Siad Barre, leading to the country’s descent into civil war.
Al-Shabaab, a group aligned to al-Qaeda, had seized control
of southern and central parts of Somalia before Ethiopian, Kenyan, and African
Union (AU) peacekeeping troops undertook a counter-offensive in 2011, supported
by the United States.
In 2013, the UN security council partially lifted the ban
for a year, allowing the government to buy light arms to help in its fight
against Islamist militants.
On Friday, the 15-member body adopted two British-drafted
resolutions: to remove the full arms ban and to reimpose an arms embargo on the
al Qaeda-linked militants.
“For the avoidance of doubt, that there is no arms embargo
on the Government of the Federal Republic of Somalia,” the resolution said.
The resolution also expressed concerns about the number of
safe ammunition storage facilities in Somalia and encouraged the construction,
refurbishment and use of safe ammunition depots across the country.
Abukar Osman, Somalia’s ambassador to the UN, said the
decision would allow the government to effectively tackle terrorism.
“The lifting of the arms embargo enables us to confront
security threats,” Osman said.
“It also allows us to bolster the capacity of the Somali
security forces by accessing lethal arms and equipment to adequately safeguard
our citizens and our nation.”
The UN security council also asked foreign countries to
support Somalia in its fight against terrorism in accordance with the body’s
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