UNITED NATIONS (AP) The U.N. Security Council on Wednesday condemned the flow of weapons and ammunition to and through Somalia and Eritrea in violation of arms embargoes against both countries.
A resolution adopted unanimously by the council called the arms flow "a serious threat to peace and stability in the region."
The council reaffirmed the arms embargoes on Somalia and Eritrea but gave a green light for Somalia to import some military equipment and provide assistance or training for its security forces until March 6, 2014.
It barred the security forces from bringing in heavy equipment including surface-to-air missiles, anti-tank and night vision weapons, and large mortars, guns, howitzers and cannons without prior approval from the council committee monitoring sanctions against Somalia.
The council expressed deep concern at reports of continuing violations of a ban on exporting charcoal from Somalia and underscored its willingness to take action against those who violate it.
The militant Islamist group al-Shabab, which controls most of central and southern Somalia, has used proceeds from exporting charcoal to finance its operations. The group of experts monitoring the implementation of sanctions said that in 2011 al-Shabab received over $25 million from charcoal exports.
"If the current rate of production continues, charcoal exports in 2012-2013 will consume some 10.5 million trees and the area of deforestation will cover 1,750 square kilometers, which is larger than the city of Houston, Texas, in the United States," the panel said in a report to the council last week.
The council extended the mandate of the panel of experts, who monitor sanctions against both Somalia and Eritrea, until Nov. 25, 2014.
"The situation in Somalia, Eritrea's influence in Somalia, as well as the dispute between Djibouti and Eritrea, continue to constitute a threat to international peace and security in the region," the council said.
The Eritrean government has strongly denied any links to al-Shabab or playing a negative role in Somalia and has called for U.N. sanctions to be lifted.
Somalia had not had a functioning central government since 1991, when warlords overthrew a longtime dictator and turned on each other, plunging the impoverished East African nation into chaos. But since African Union forces ousted al-Shabab fighters from the war-battered capital, Mogadishu, in August 2011, a relative peace has returned, creating a new sense of hope and opportunity.
Last year, a new interim constitution was approved, a new parliament was seated, a new president was elected and a new government and Cabinet started work, replacing a weak and largely ineffective transitional government.
The Security Council recognized "significant progress in Somalia over the past year" but expressed serious concern at reports of misappropriation of the country's public resources and underlined the importance of transparent and effective management of public finances. It encouraged the new government to set out "a clear political process toward implementing a federal structure in line with the provisional constitution."
The council expressed concern at human rights violations in Somalia including extrajudicial killings, arbitrary detention and pervasive sexual violence and underscored "the need to end impunity, uphold human rights and to hold accountable those who commit such crimes."