U.N. wants to rebuild Somalia's justice system, withdraw by March 1995

September 23, 1993|By Newsday

UNITED NATIONS -- Weary of continual skirmishes in which U.N. peacekeepers and Somalis have died, the U.N. Security Council says it plans to spend millions of dollars re-establishing Somalia's justice system and expects to end the international mission there by March 1995.

A State Department official in Washington said the United States and the United Nations want the world to know they are doing more than just trying to capture fugitive warlord Gen. Mohamed Farah Aidid.

"This resolution is to highlight the fact that the U.N. isn't simply this Aidid mission, that it does have wider goals and that we don't plan to be there forever," said the official, who spoke on condition of anonymity. "The bang-bang, shoot-'em-up stuff has been getting all the attention up to now."

The resolution, drafted by the United States and passed unanimously yesterday by the 15-member Security Council, adopts a recommendation by secretary-general Boutros Boutros-Ghali to build a domestic network of police, judges and other officials who can return law and order to the predominantly Muslim nation.

The cost of the effort is about $58 million, according to an August report by Mr. Boutros-Ghali. The U.S. Agency for International Development will contribute $6 million, the State Department official said.

The U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, Madeleine Albright, said the resolution "sets out in clear, unambiguous terms that the U.N.'s principal goal in Somalia is to bring about the political reconciliation of that long-suffering country."

Mr. Boutros-Ghali's envoy to Somalia, Jonathan Howe, a retired U.S. Navy admiral, met with the council before the vote. During the last week, Mr. Howe has traveled between New York and Washington explaining that the U.N. Operation in Somalia has had significant successes that have gone unreported in the press.

NB Ms. Albright took up that argument yesterday. "Only a year ago

hundreds of thousands were starving to death," Ms. Albright said. "Today starvation is gone, and Somalia is on the way back."

The United Nations is trying to restore democracy to Somalia and hopes elections will be held in January 1995.

In June, Mr. Aidid began an offensive against the U.N. peacekeepers. In reaction, Mr. Howe declared the warlord a wanted man, and there have been numerous raids designed to capture him.

Then-President Bush sent U.S.troops to Somalia in December in a humanitarian mission designed to end widespread lawlessness and starvation. The United Nations took over in May, and Howe said he wanted the operation to end in two years, the State Department official said.

Twelve Americans have been killed and more than 50 wounded since December, the official said. Some members of Congress have called for the United States to pull out. Sixty peacekeepers have died since May, the official said.

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