The UN Security Council unanimously adopted a resolution today underscoring the importance of the United Nations in promoting peace and reconciliation efforts by Somalia's new government and strongly condemning attacks by the al-Shabab extremist group.
The resolution extends the UN political mission in the Horn of Africa nation, which is trying to rebuild after more than two decades as a failed state, until March 31, 2018.
It urges the UN mission to support the new federal government's efforts to consolidate the country, review the constitution, improve the fight against corruption, and develop effective federal political and justice systems.
It also reaffirms the council's determination to support a comprehensive approach to reduce the threat posed by al- Shabab.
Britain's deputy UN ambassador Peter Wilson said the resolution is "a vote of confidence in the new government" and reinforces commitments at last month's London conference to promote security and political stability in the country.
Somalia began to fall apart in 1991, when warlords ousted dictator Siad Barre and then turned on each other. Years of conflict and attacks by al-Shabab, along with famine, shattered the country of some 12 million people.
It has been trying to rebuild since establishing its first functioning transitional government in 2012 and electing a new president February 8.
With a new federal government established, pressure is growing on Somalia's military to assume full responsibility for the country's security.
The 22,000-strong African Union multinational force, AMISOM, which has been supporting the fragile central government, plans to start withdrawing in 2018 and leave by the end of 2020.
Over 40 countries and the Somali government agreed at the London conference on a security pact aimed at building a functioning national army in the country capable of taking on the fight against al-Shabab extremists.
The UN resolution recognized that "this is a critical moment for Somalia."
It underscored the need "to maintain momentum" toward consolidating all regions in Somalia into the federal system and welcomed the government's commitment to hold one person- one vote elections in 2021 and to undertake reforms in its security sector.
The Security Council also expressed "grave concern at the credible and renewed risk of famine in Somalia as a result of the severe drought in the context of ongoing conflict."
And it expressed concern at the high number of Somali refugees and internally displaced people -- and "the ongoing forced evictions" of those displaced inside the country.
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