News / Africa

Somalia's Defense Minister: Nation Can't Afford Weapons

Somali government forces march during a parade to celebrate the 53rd anniversary of the national army, in the capital Mogadishu, April 12, 2013.
Somali government forces march during a parade to celebrate the 53rd anniversary of the national army, in the capital Mogadishu, April 12, 2013.
Reuters
— Somalia's armed forces have not received "a single bullet" despite the partial lifting of a United Nations arms embargo because the East African country lacks funds, its defense minister said on Wednesday.

Somalia's new leaders aim to train and equip a professional army of about 28,000 soldiers within three years, but they are hamstrung by a lack of cash, Abdihakim Fiqi said during a trip to London to drum up donor support.

"The arms embargo was lifted almost two months ago and we haven't received a single bullet or one single AK-47 or gun. Nothing. Because of lack of resources," Fiqi told the Royal United Services Institute defense think tank in London.

The Horn of Africa nation is only just emerging from two decades of civil war, and is struggling to rebuild a country riven by clan divisions and whose infrastructure and institutions are in tatters.

A newly appointed parliament last year elected a new president, the first vote of its kind since the toppling of former military dictator Mohamed Siad Barre in 1991.

In recognition of the legitimacy of Somalia's new leadership, the United Nations in March partially lifted an arms embargo on Somalia, allowing it to buy light weapons.

Somali forces currently number in the low thousands, and are a poorly equipped and fragmented mixture of state troops and militias struggling to battle al Shabaab Islamist militants, who want to impose their brand of Islamic law on Somalia.

"For the last four months our soldiers are just sitting back not doing anything. Al Shabaab are fighting them, engaging them, attacking them. They are just in the defense position... due to a lack of weapons and ammunition," said Fiqi.

African Union peacekeepers have been largely responsible for pushing al Qaeda-linked al Shabaab out of the capital Mogadishu and other urban centers in the past two years, but the group is still able to launch major attacks, including a suicide bombing on Sunday that killed at least eight people.

Fiqi declined to give an estimate for the number al Shabaab fighters remaining, but said due to a lack of funding the group was mired in "leadership wrangling," and was "increasingly weakening, contained and losing ground every day."

However, al Shabaab is highly mobile, a reason why Somalia aims to build an army made up of agile light infantry units.

"Our national security stabilization plan indicates up to 28,000 soldiers within three years," said Fiqi, putting the cost of raising such an army at about $160 million.

The minister is part of a Somali delegation, including President Hassan Sheikh Mohamud, that attended a conference on Somalia in London on Tuesday to drum up donor funding.

You May Like

EU Court Fines Poland for Hosting CIA 'Black Sites'

Ruling is first time a court has acknowledged suspects were held and tortured at the sites, under US program launched following the 9/11 terrorist attacks More

Migrant Issues Close to Home Spur Groups to Take Action

Groups placing water, food in the desert, or aiding detainees after release, have one common goal: no more deaths of migrants crossing illegally into the US More

Video At AIDS Conference, Prevention Pill Stirs Excitement

Truveda shows promise, spurring debate over access and other approaches More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Treatment for Childhood Epilepsy Heats up Medical Marijuana Debatei
X
Shelley Schlender
July 24, 2014 6:43 PM
In the United States, marijuana is classed as an illegal drug by the federal government. But nearly half the states have legalized it, to some degree. Proponents say some strains of marijuana might have exceptional health benefits, for treating pain or inflammation in chronic conditions such as cancer, multiple sclerosis and epilepsy. Shelley Schlender reports on a strain of medical marijuana developed in Colorado that is reputed to reduce seizures in childhood epilepsy
Video

Video Treatment for Childhood Epilepsy Heats up Medical Marijuana Debate

In the United States, marijuana is classed as an illegal drug by the federal government. But nearly half the states have legalized it, to some degree. Proponents say some strains of marijuana might have exceptional health benefits, for treating pain or inflammation in chronic conditions such as cancer, multiple sclerosis and epilepsy. Shelley Schlender reports on a strain of medical marijuana developed in Colorado that is reputed to reduce seizures in childhood epilepsy
Video

Video Airbus Adds Metal 3D Printed Parts to New Jets

By the end of this year, European aircraft manufacturing consortium Airbus plans to deliver the first of its new, extra-wide-body passenger jets, the A350-XWB. Among other technological innovations, the new plane will also incorporate metal parts made in a 3-D printer. VOA's George Putic has more.
Video

Video Death Toll From Israel-Gaza Conflict Surpasses 700

Gaza officials say a shelling hit a compound housing a United Nations-run school in the Gaza Strip, killing more than a dozen people, during an Israeli offensive in the area. Heavy fighting between the Israeli military and Hamas militants continued on Thursday, pushing up the death toll. So far, more than 730 Palestinians and 35 Israelis have been killed in the conflict. VOA's Scott Bobb has the latest from Jerusalem.
Video

Video AIDS Conference Welcomes Exciting Developments in HIV Treatment, Prevention

Significant strides have been made in recent years toward the treatment and prevention of HIV, the virus that causes AIDS. This year, at the International AIDS Conference, the AIDS community welcomed progress on a new pill that may prevent transmission of the deadly virus. VOA’s Anita Powell reports from Melbourne, Australia.
Video

Video Israel Targets Gaza Supply Tunnels

The Israeli military has launched a ground operation in Gaza to destroy the myriad tunnels that may have been used to smuggle weapons to Hamas. VOA's Zlatica Hoke reports that could mean more hardship for the people of Gaza, who obtain some of their essential supplies through these underground passages
Video

Video Researchers Target Low-Cost Avatar Technology

Scientists at the University of Southern California Institute for Creative Technologies say 3-dimensional representations could revolutionize social media. Elizabeth Lee has more from Los Angeles.
Video

Video IAEA: Iran Turns its Enriched Uranium Into Less Harmful Form

Iran has converted its stockpiles of enriched uranium into a less dangerous form that is more difficult to use for nuclear weapons, according to the United Nations’ Atomic Energy Agency. The move complies with an interim deal reached with Western powers on Iran's nuclear program last year, in exchange for easing of sanctions. Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London.
Video

Video In Cambodia, HIV Diagnosis Brings Deadly Shame

Although HIV/AIDS is now a treatable condition, a positive diagnosis is still a life altering experience. In Cambodia, people living with HIV are often disowned by friends, family and the community. This humiliation can be unbearable. We bring you one Cambodian woman’s struggle to overcome a life tragedy and her own HIV positive diagnosis.

AppleAndroid