NAIROBI - Somalia's prime minister called for greater international military support Thursday to extend the beleaguered government's control beyond the famine-struck capital, following a pullout by Islamist rebels. The weak Western-backed transitional government controls only war-torn Mogadishu with the support of 9,000 African Union troops, but is unable to access surrounding famine-hit areas ruled by Al-Qaeda linked Shebab insurgents. “It is therefore critical that the international community reinforces our efforts to extend the zone of safety beyond Mogadishu and into these areas,” Abdiweli Mohamed Ali said at a drought conference in the Kenyan capital.
Hundreds of people are believed to be dying every day from harsh drought exacerbated by conflict in Somalia. “More in terms of men and equipment will be required if we are to completely eliminate the extremist threat,” he added. Last month the AU force commander called for reinforcements of 3,000 more troops, as authorised in December by the UN Security Council to boost security operations.
The UN on Monday declared a sixth southern Somali region in famine, warning conditions will likely worsen in coming months.