At the request of the UN Security Council, Secretary-General Kofi Annan has reappointed a four-member group that has been monitoring the movement of weapons into Somalia since early 2004.
The panel was established to monitor violations of an arms embargo imposed by the UN on the strife-torn Horn of Africa country in 1992.
In a letter to the president of the Security Council released on Tuesday, Annan extended the mandate of the four experts for six months.
The members are Melvin Holt, Jr, of the US and Joel Salek of Colombia, who have been members of the panel since its inception; Harjit Singh Kelley of Kenya, who once served on an expert panel on Liberian sanctions; and Bruno Schiemsky of Belgium, who was part of a team monitoring the embargo against the Democratic Republic of the Congo.
The mandate of the group, which is based in Kenya, includes investigating "the points of entry and exit of arms and the flow of weapons into Somalia; the mode of transport used; the destination of the weapons; the warlords, faction leaders or businessmen receiving the arms and weapons; the areas or regions under the control of the faction leaders, warlords and businessmen and their associates" as well as the operation of arms markets in Somalia and the source of the arms.
They will assess the actions of Somali authorities and other UN member states through field-based investigations in the region to ensure the full implementation of the arms embargo.
In a resolution in October, the Security Council condemned the increase in the flow of arms and ammunition into Somalia.
The resolution followed findings by the monitoring team that violations - both by the Somali Transitional Federal Government (TFG), its opponents in the capital, Mogadishu, and certain states in the region - had recently taken a "sustained and dramatic upswing".
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