|Department of Public Information • News and Media Division • New York|
5837th Meeting (AM)
AFRICAN UNION, BRIEFING SECURITY COUNCIL ON SOMALIA, APPEALS FOR URGENT STEPS
TO DEPLOY UNITED NATIONS PEACEKEEPING FORCE TO REPLACE UNION’S MISSION
The representative of the African Union this morning conveyed to the Security Council her organization’s solemn appeal for urgent action to deploy a United Nations peacekeeping operation in Somalia, which would replace the African Union’s mission there, to help long-term stabilization and the rebuilding of Somalia.
Briefing the Council on the situation in Somalia, Lila H. Ratsifandrihamanana, Permanent Observer of the African Union, said that it was a cause of shared concern. During the last Summit in Addis Ababa, the Assembly of the African Union had endorsed the proposals of the Peace and Security Council in its communiqué of 18 January. A meeting of the International Contact Group in Somalia (ICGS) had been also organized on the margin of the Summit, and meetings had been held between African Union stakeholders and various groups and personalities, such as Jendai Praser, United States Assistant Secretary of State, a Finnish Member of Parliament and European Union officials, regarding the situation in Somalia.
On the basis of the Peace and Security Council communiqué, the African Union Assembly had stressed the need for speedy deployment of a United Nations peacekeeping operation in Somalia, in keeping with the Council’s primary responsibility for the maintenance of international peace and security. In the meantime, it had also requested that all necessary action be taken to provide the African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISON) with assistance under Chapter VIII of the Charter.
“We are aware of the scale of the challenges, which will require African responsibility and international solidarity,” she said, expressing confidence that the Council would take the necessary decision, in keeping with the Somali people’s wish for peace.
Conveying the Peace and Security Council proposals that had been endorsed by the African Union Assembly, she said that the Union was convinced that, notwithstanding its complexity, the situation in Somalia could still be redressed, with the assistance of all Somali parties and the international community. The communiqué stressed the need for the Federal Transitional Government to take specific measures to implement the conclusions of the Peace and Security Council and emphasized the need for a peaceful solution and national reconciliation. It also stressed the need for the international community and countries of the region to fully support the process of reconciliation and coordinate their initiatives. The Council of the African Union intended to convene a high-level international meeting to refocus international attention on Somalia and mobilize support for the ongoing process there.
Further, the communiqué stressed the appeal to all Member States and the entire international community to lend adequate support to reinforce Somali institutions, including the Federal Transitional Government and defence forces. The African Union Council would proceed to consultations with relevant African institutions, including the African Development Bank, to dispatch a needs assessment mission to Somalia. Considering the tension in Somalia’s regions of Sool and Sanaag, parties were urged to deal with the tensions prevailing there. In close cooperation with the Intergovernmental Authority on Development and other stakeholders, the Council would also increase its efforts to consolidate regional cohesion.
An appeal was made to all Member States and partners of the African Union to strongly support legitimate Somali institutions and their efforts to combat violence, she continued. The Security Council was called upon to reconsider the arms embargo imposed by its resolution 733 (1992) in order to enable the Federal Transitional Government to establish and equip its defence forces, while maintaining the provisions of embargo against those who wanted to jeopardize peace and reconciliation. The Security Council was also urged to take proper action against those who were hampering the peace process. An appeal was also made to the international community, as a whole, to continue to lend humanitarian assistance and provide financial contributions to meet the needs not covered by the consolidated appeal process for 2008. Member States were encouraged to protect ships transporting humanitarian aid for the World Food Programme to Somalia.
It was decided to extend the mandate of AMISOM for six months in order to continue carrying out its mandated tasks, she said. An appeal was made to African Union member States to provide troops and personnel, so that AMISOM could keep its effectiveness, and facilitate the deployment of the Mission. An appeal was also made to partners of the African Union to provide increased logistic and financial support to the Mission, taking into account the fact that the African Union was also acting on behalf of the entire international community.
Regarding AMISOM, she said that, in spite of the constraints facing the Mission, it had continued to conduct its activities, including provision of medical services and water to the population in the immediate surroundings of its headquarters in Mogadishu. It had also continued to receive weapons surrendered by armed elements for storage and destruction. The Mission’s budget amounted to about $622 million, but so far, a little over $32 million had been contributed by the European Union, Italy, Sweden, China and the League of Arab States. The United Kingdom had pledged ₤8.5 million for AMISOM deployment and provided assistance for the establishment of a Support Management Planning Unit. The European Union had also pledged 5 million euro for the Unit and another 500,000 euro to cover insurance costs, in addition to technical assistance for budget-related matters. A 40 million euro extrabudgetary grant had just been announced by Italy.
The United States continued to provide logistical support to the Ugandan contingent, as well as communications equipment for the Addis Ababa headquarters, and had pledged to facilitate transportation for troop contributing countries. Various pledges had also been received from the North Atlantic Treaty Organization, Algeria, Kenya and Nigeria. Out of 8,000 troops authorized by the Council last January, only two Ugandan battalions and an advance team of 192 Burundian soldiers were on the ground in Mogadishu. Steps were being taken to deploy the main body of the first of the two battalions pledged by Burundi.
Regarding the efforts of the new Special Representative of the Chair of the African Union Commission, Nicolas Bwakira, she said that, in December, he had visited Somalia, Ethiopia, Kenya and Uganda to establish initial contacts with the national authorities concerned and members of the international community, including the United Nations, European Union and bilateral partners and representatives of regional and international non-governmental organizations. He seized that opportunity to stress the need for renewed and concerted efforts to overcome current differences in Somalia and reiterate the Union’s determination to do whatever it could to contribute to the restoration of peace and stability in Somalia.
Taking the floor after the briefing, Somalia’s representative urged the Council to accelerate the implementation of its presidential statement of 19 December 2007, which reiterated the Council’s request to the Secretary-General to develop existing contingency plans for possible deployment of a United Nations peacekeeping operation to further enhance peace in Somalia and support the African Union Mission there. On its part, his Government stood ready to fully cooperate and work closely with the Council and the Secretary-General in that regard.
He hoped the Council’s action would not be confined to a mere rollover of the authorization of AMISOM and adoption of a “wait-and-see” policy. “We -- and indeed the African Union and the international community -- expect more from the Security Council,” he said, adding that the security situation in Somalia was a real challenge for the African Union and a threat to international peace and security. He hoped the challenges of the situation in Somalia would be met robustly and squarely.
The meeting was called to order at 10:24 a.m. and adjourned at 10:46 a.m.
* *** *For information media • not an official record