On Somalia, UK told Inner City Press UN would confirm deaths, but UN Says up to AMISOM
Amid widely differing casualty figures for the Al-Shabab attack on the Ugandan AMISOM base in Somalia – the UN Security Council now says vaguely, “a number” of soldiers were killed — Inner City Press on April 3 asked UN Spokesman Stephane Dujarric, video here, UN transcript here: Inner City Press: in Somalia, there are widely differing figures of how many of the AMISOM [African Union Mission to Somalia] peacekeepers were killed in the Al Shabaab attack. Uganda says it’s more… four. Now they say eight. Some people say 59. Given that there is this UNSOS [United Nations Support Office in Somalia] that I asked about yesterday, what is the figure?
Spokesman: “I don’t have, I don’t have an independent figure from our end to report.” Why not? On April 4, the UN Security Council issued a press statement beginning, “The members of the Security Council condemned in the strongest terms the terrorist attack of 1 April 2018 perpetrated by Al-Shabaab against the Ugandan contingent of the African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM) in Lower Shabelle in Somalia in which a number of soldiers were killed and injured. The members of the Security Council expressed their deep sympathy and condolences to the families of the victims, as well as to the people and Government of Uganda. The members of the Security Council wished a speedy recovery to those injured.” A number? So on April 5 Inner City Press asked the Council penholder on Somalia, Karen Pierce of the UK, “on yesterday’s press statement on Somalia where you are the penholder, it said a number of troops were killed but there are wildly different numbers. Uganda says 8 and some people on the ground say up to 59. Is the Security Council aware of how many of the ANISOM troops were killed in Somalia for the statement that issued yesterday?” Pierce replied, “I am afraid I can’t corroborate the numbers at this moment on Somalia but as soon as we have something I am sure the UN will share it with press corps know.” But the UN hasn’t said anything. So on April 6, Inner City Press asked Dujarric again, and he admitted that the UN refuses to disclose these figures, despite UNSOS’ role. From the UN transcript: Inner City Press: I had asked you a couple of days ago about the… the AMISOM [African Union Mission in Somalia] soldiers killed in Somalia. Uganda says 8; others say 59. I asked Ambassador [Karen] Pierce of the UK, who said she’s sure that when the UN knows it will inform the press corps. Given that it’s my understanding that UNSOS, the UN Support Office on Somalia, has a role in actually moving bodies, so it’s not a matter of reading media reports.
Spokesman: No, I know, but I think it is up to AMISOM and to the countries concerned to confirm those numbers.
Inner City Press: So it’s not that you don’t know. It’s what you won’t say…
Spokesman: It’s not that I won’t say. I think it is appropriate for the African Union peacekeeping mission and for the countries concerned to confirm the number of dead.” UN cover up. Back on January 26 after an attack on a UN compound in Mogadishu Inner City Press asked UN Deputy Spokesman Farhan Haq about it, from the UN transcript: Inner City Press: There’s some reports of an attack on an UN compound in… in… in Mogadishu and the death of an international staff member from Uganda. Are you aware of that? Can you confirm it? Deputy Spokesman: No, we don’t have confirmation. We’ll try to see whether there’s anything to those reports.” This was published by the UN later in day, after the UN has sent this to Inner City Press: “In regards to your question on an attack in Mogadishu, we can confirm that a fatal shooting of a UNICEF contractor took place today in Mogadishu, Somalia early this afternoon. An investigation is underway, and UNICEF staff are safe. Our thoughts are with the family of the man who was killed.” Yes, rest in peace. But why isn’t the UN being louder about this attack, days after a UN Staff Union report about the increase of attacks on the UN? After Somali minister Abass Abdullahi Sheikh Siraj was shot and killed by the bodyguards of the country’s Auditor-General, apparently in a case of mistaken identity, Inner City Press asked the spokesman for UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres, Stephane Dujarric, if Guterres or the UN had any comment. Dujarric said it seemed to be an assassination. On May 11, Inner City Press asked again, from the transcript: Inner City Press: I saw that the Secretary-General at the Somali conference describe the death as Abass Siraji as tragic and unfortunate. I asked about it at the time, and you said it seemed like an assassination. Is that no longer the view of the UN?
Spokesman: I’ll… I think whatever the Secretary-General says overrides whatever I may say. That’s a rule.
Inner City Press: And I just want to understand, when you say that his speech to UNA-UK was off the cuff, it seems like… I mean, it was a speech. UN News Centre reported on it, so, like, what’s the problem with releasing it? I don’t understand.
Spokesman: It’s not that we’re not releasing it. It’s just no transcript’s been done. We’re going to release the video, and I think the video is as strong as the spoken word.
From the earlier UN’s transcript: Inner City Press: does the UN system have a statement on the killing of Somali Government minister Abass Siraji, a 31-year-old Government minister killed by the [inaudible]?
Spokesman Dujarric: We obviously condemn what appears to be an assassination of this minister and send our condolences to his family and to the Government of Somalia.
Inner City Press: Are you… Because some people are saying he was shot by mistake. And I’m wondering, does the UN have any role in security…?
Spokesman: I have no… a role in providing his security? No.
Inner City Press: No, no, in training, in this case, the bodyguards of the auditor general.
Spokesman: Not that I’m aware of.
The UN Has said nothing since, five hours later. Back on January 26 when the International Monetary Fund’s deputy spokesperson William Murray took questions at the IMF’s biweekly media briefing on January 26, Inner City Press asked him about Somalia and the UN, as well as Mozambique and Ghana.
Inner City Press asked: “The UN’s envoy to Somalia Michael Keating recently said in New York that the IMF is urging the government in Mogadishu to raise revenue, by means of a tax on ‘ICT’ or telecom/mobile phones. Is that accurate? Please explain the IMF’s position.”
After the briefing, at which Inner City Press’ Mozambique question was answered, an IMF spokesperson provided this on Somalia:
“Somalia has one of the lowest revenue to GDP ratios in the world. Increasing revenue mobilization, from a low tax base, is critical to Somalia’s economic and social development goals. To that end, the authorities and IMF staff reached an understanding on the need to collect higher nominal revenues in 2017 compared to those in 2016. The ultimate goal is to progressively restore, over time, revenue to GDP to a level comparable to peer countries.
In 2017, the authorities plan to start implementing a more formal tax system, which is projected to increase tax revenues from about 1.4 percent of GDP in 2016 to 2.0 percent of GDP in 2017. A critical element of these revenue measures — based on current law which the authorities will start implementing — is revenue from the telecom sector, about $24.5 million in total in 2017. This is up from the negotiated tax of $5.0 million agreed for 2016. The projection comprises of about $12–14 million from taxes on corporate profits and $10–12 million from sales taxes. Additional revenue collection from the telecom sector could be achieved but will require significant improvements in revenue administration and tax collection, while improving security for telecom operators.”