|Department of Public Information • News and Media Division • New York|
6407th Meeting (AM)
Secretary-General Urges Security Council to take ‘Bold and Courageous Decisions’
to Bolster African Union Peacekeeping Force in Somalia, Transitional Government
Senior African Union Official Calls Security Situation ‘Unacceptable’, Says
Council Must Respond Decisively to Desperate Calls for Help from Somali People
During a Security Council meeting this morning on Somalia that also heard from high officials from the African Union and the Somali Transitional Government, United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon called on the Council to take “bold and courageous decisions” to strengthen the African-led peacekeeping force and the transitional authorities of the faction-wracked country.
“The international community must act now if it is to make a difference,” the Secretary-General said as he opened the meeting alongside Ramtane Lamamra, Commissioner for Peace and Security of the African Union Commission, and Yusuf Hassan Ibrahim, the Minister for Foreign Affairs of the Transitional Federal Government of Somalia, following up on the mini-summit on the country held in New York on 23 September with high-level representation from the region and the wider international community. (See Press Release SG/2163)
Commissioner Lamamra and Minister Ibrahim both urged serious and expeditious action on Somalia. Denouncing the international community’s current policy of “limited engagement and half-hearted measures”, Mr. Lamamra said the protracted suffering inflicted on the Somali people and the increasing threat that situation posed to regional stability, as well as to international peace and security, “cannot be allowed to continue any longer”. He added that the African Union Peace and Security Council had met at the ministerial level in Addis Ababa on 15 October to weigh what was needed to turn the situation around.
Mr. Ban commended the African Union and its peacekeeping Mission in Somalia — known as AMISOM — for their efforts in assisting the Transitional Federal Government in its security efforts, noting that the United Nations Political Office for Somalia (UNPOS) had been providing critical logistic support to that Mission. He said there had been recent successes against insurgents, with Government authorities taking over some previously occupied main cities.
He said the United Nations would continue to work towards achieving the political objectives of the Djibouti Peace Process by supporting the Transitional Federal Government in outreach and reconciliation efforts and other priority tasks, implementation of agreements between the Government and regional authorities, and the development of functioning State institutions, all through a “light footprint”.
In order for AMISOM to be a more effective partner of the United Nations and the Transitional Government in those efforts, however, more international help was needed, he said, citing substantive resource gaps that continued to hamstring the Mission. It was following extensive consultations on those additional needs that the report of the Chairperson of the Commission of the African Union had been drawn up. The Council, he suggested, might wish to consider phasing the additional support in line with the recommendations outlined in that report, which would allow for periodic review of the impact of that support.
He urged the Somalia authorities, in turn, to consolidate their efforts and unite against the threat of extremism, saying that the Transitional Federal Government must start delivering improved services to the Somali people, paying salaries to its security forces and building up its security sector institutions. The support of the international community, he stressed, was critical in that regard.
Providing a snapshot of the complex situation on the ground, Mr. Lamamra said intermittent and recurrent wrangling within and between the leadership of Somalia’s Transitional Federal Institutions had prevented them from effectively implementing their obligations under the Transitional Federal Charter and the Djibouti Peace Process, leading to the resignation on 21 September of Prime Minister Omar Abdirashid Ali Sharmarke. With the new Prime Minister appointed by President Sheikh Sharif Sheikh Ahmed, he hoped that a representative Cabinet and speedy completion of the parliamentary confirmation process would take place.
The security situation in Mogadishu and the rest of Somalia remained unacceptable, he continued, with persisting violence, mortar attacks, assassinations and suicide bombings against the Somali people, the Transitional Government and AMISOM by the insurgents and the terrorist groups Al-Shabaab and Hizbul Islam, with the active support of foreign elements.
He expressed the African Union’s concern that insecurity in Somalia was spilling over into the wider region, as attested by the Kampala, Uganda, bombings of 11 July. The humanitarian situation was also of utmost concern, characterized by persistent attacks against humanitarian workers and agencies, limited access and also inadequate funding.
Mr. Lamamra said that, guided by the urgency of effective and coordinated action by the Somalis and the international community, the Peace and Security Council was convinced that the situation required three layers of action on the part of the Somalis, the African Union and the United Nations, along with the wider international community.
Bearing in mind that 20 August 2011 would mark the end of the transitional period, he said the Peace and Security Council had requested the Transitional Federal Institutions to ensure the confirmation of the new Prime Minister and the formation of a new Government, as well as to develop a road map regarding the management of the remaining transition period with clear political, security and reconstruction priorities.
Those Institutions, he continued, must also expeditiously complete the outstanding transitional tasks, including the constitutional process and continue to reach out to all peace-embracing Somalis. They also must urgently endorse the draft National Security and Stabilization Plan and the Security Sector Assessment Report.
He pledged that the African Union and the Intergovernmental Authority for Development (IGAD) would continue to do their utmost to support the Somalis in their efforts to bring the conflict to a definite end, focusing on support to the political process, strengthening of AMISOM in order to bring its military component to 20,000 troops and its police component to 1,680, as well as enhancing the Mission’s civilian component, and mobilization of the international community for it to fully play its role. To facilitate those efforts, former Ghanaian President Jerry John Rawlings had been appointed African Union High Representative for Somalia.
The Commissioner affirmed that more efforts were required from the international community to rise to the challenge posed by the current situation. The African Union Peace and Security Council had urged the United Nations Security Council to endorse the newly authorized strength of AMISOM and to authorize an enhanced support package from AMISOM authorized through assessed contribution and catering for reimbursements for contingent-owned equipment as well as payment of troop allowance at United Nations rates.
The Security Council, Mr. Lamamra said, should also impose a naval blockade and no-fly zone over Somalia to prevent the entry of foreign fighters and flights carrying weapons and ammunition to armed groups. The Council might also request the Governments and organizations involved in naval operations off the coast to provide a more direct, tangible and operational support to AMISOM. Effective implementation of sanctions against those impeding the peace and reconciliation process should be ensured.
He also urged the United Nations Security Council to approach the issue of piracy off the coast of Somalia in a holistic manner, with the view to effectively addressing its underlying causes and other equally serious threats that effected the livelihoods of the Somali people, in particular illegal fishing and dumping of toxic substances and waste. The Council should further reaffirm the commitment to deploy, in due course, a United Nations peacekeeping operation through the “re-hatting” of AMISOM, with an established timeline.
Despite the challenges, opportunities existed to “make peace happen in Somalia”, he said. After two decades of conflicts and chaos, the Somalis were yearning for peace. In addition, there was today greater awareness than ever before of the serious threat the situation in Somalia posed to international peace and security. The international community could decide to pursue its current policy of limited engagement in the false hope that the situation could be contained, and continue to make the existence of peace a precondition for the deployment of a United Nations operation.
However, stakeholders could also decide to step up their efforts to give a concrete meaning to the “much heralded notion of the responsibility to protect” and to confront the threat which the prevailing situation posed to international peace and security, Mr. Lamamra said.
The African Union was convinced that the latter was the right course of action, he said, stressing that the time for such action was now, in the expectation that the “Year for Peace and Security in Africa” would indeed bring the blessings of a normal life to the people of Somalia. “We therefore call on the Council to stand along with the African Union in rising to the challenge, and responding decisively to the desperate call for assistance from the Somali people,” he concluded.
Foreign Minister Ibrahim completely endorsed the position of the African Union Peace and Security Council as expressed in a communiqué after the 15 October meeting, welcoming in particular the call on the United Nations Security Council to endorse the proposed new force strength for AMISOM and to authorize an enhanced support package for that Mission, funded through United Nations assessed contributions, and for the payment of troop allowances at United Nations rates.
He hoped that the Council would respond to “the various Governments, peoples, institutions and organizations who cannot comprehend why the Security Council has not already taken appropriate measures commensurate with the urgent situation in Somalia”, by taking decisions along the ones endorsed by the African Union and demonstrating that it fully realized the urgency of the situation and that it was prepared to take decisive and urgent actions whenever it was warranted.
Describing the burbur, or disintegration, of Somalia in 1990-1991, Mr. Ibrahim said the history of the country during the past two decades was not just one of doom and gloom. Reporting by the media was focused on Mogadishu. Somalia was bigger than Mogadishu, however, and some regions had experienced a relatively peaceful existence, with booming towns where the local private sector, with help of their relatives in the diaspora, had managed to set up clinics, electricity, schools, telephones and running water.
Even Mogadishu, he said, had its private radio and TV stations, new hotels and Internet cafes. After the collapse of the central Government, a parallel internal banking system had sprung up that was still functioning, with the Somali shilling still being resilient.
He said that during and after the Djibouti peace talks, every effort had been made towards reconciliation, but the adversaries of the Transitional Federal Government — extremists with foreign ideology and support — had no interest in dialogue or peaceful resolution of conflicts. As soon as the Transitional Federal Government had been installed in Mogadishu, adversaries had decided to topple it.
Since then, extremists had been using relentless violence to reach their objective of destroying life, property, the Transitional Federal Government and AMISOM. Under those circumstance, the very existence of the Transitional Government was a clear plus. The fact that the former Prime Minister had resigned to allow the Government to go forward could be interpreted as exercise in democracy and governance.
The people of Somalia and the Transitional Government fully realized that they had the primary responsibility for stabilizing the country. Others could only help the Government “stabilize the country and implement the road map of the Transitional Federal Charter during the remaining period of office”, Mr. Ibrahim said, expressing the hope that the Secretary-General would be able to re-review the time needed to prepare his vision of United Nations cooperation with regional groups such as the African Union.
Somalia remained in dire straits, he said, as shown by the overall security situation, the glaring tragic humanitarian situation, the growth of the piracy menace, virulent terrorism and extremism fuelled by Al-Qaida, foreign fighters, saboteurs and profiteers, and the obvious threat to international peace and security.
In order for the Somali crisis to be resolved, he said, the Transitional Federal Government must obviously try to put its act together. A significantly strengthened Somali security sector must enable the establishment of law and order throughout the land. AMISOM could be strengthened if the problem of reimbursement to troop-contributing countries was solved and soldier allowance parity was enabled. Other funding was also necessary, as was enabling without delay phase I of the AMISOM mandate, along with the endorsement of the African Union proposal for a new force strength and its revised concept of operations.
The meeting was opened at 10:15 a.m. and adjourned at 11 a.m., after which the Council went immediately into a private meeting on Somalia in the Council Chamber, as previously agreed.
* *** *For information media • not an official record