|Department of Public Information • News and Media Division • New York|
Without Increased Support for Somalia’s National Forces, Investment in
Peace May Be Lost, Deputy Secretary-General Warns Security Council
Following is UN Deputy Secretary-General Jan Eliasson’s statement to the Security Council meeting on Somalia in New York on 30 October:
I am honoured to address the Council today on Somalia.
This is an important briefing for me. I have had a long relationship with Somalia. Twenty-one years ago I visited the country as the first United Nations Emergency Relief Coordinator and I still have vivid painful memories of the pain and massive suffering of that time, the worst I have ever seen, I should add. For decades, it was difficult to see how Somalia could lift itself out of conflict and misery.
Last weekend, I was finally able to visit Mogadishu again. The difference from 1992 was remarkable. I saw hope and I saw determination. I saw shops and cafés, fishermen and traffic police, taxis and building sites. I saw what you have all heard about in this Council during the past year ‑ the beginning of a new Somalia.
I held extensive, open and highly interesting meetings with Somalia’s President Hassan Sheikh Mohamud, with the Prime Minister and the Speaker of Parliament, the Foreign Minister and practically all other members of the Government. I also met with African Union and AMISOM (African Union Mission in Somalia) representatives, security officials, the diplomatic community, civil society and our dedicated UN team.
During the meetings we spoke much about national reconciliation. My interlocutors highlighted the need to establish a culture of dialogue and a new approach on regional engagement. The Government reiterated its commitment to federalism and power-sharing between the centre and the periphery. I urged the President to continue his efforts at political outreach, and to take forward inclusive dialogue on the future form of federalism in the country. The UN plans to establish greater presence in the regions, and reinforce the links between the regions and the Federal Government.
I stressed the importance of building institutions, the rule of law and respect for human rights. We agreed that a UN team would travel to Somalia next month to advise on the support required to prepare for national elections in 2016. We also spoke about the need for peacebuilding and State-building. I congratulated the Government on the conclusion of the New Deal framework, which sets out Somalia’s priorities. The United Nations will align its efforts fully to support these goals. Together with President Hassan Sheikh, I visited the new UN offices nearing completion in Villa Somalia in Mogadishu, where UN and Somali Government staff will, appropriately, work side by side.
The African Union Mission in Somalia has done much to enable Somalia to reach the current moment of opportunity. Let me express my deep appreciation of the work AMISOM forces have done, of the sacrifices they have made, and of the unique partnership between the African Union and the United Nations in Somalia. I would also like to recognize the substantial support provided by the European Union to AMISOM.
Let me also express my great respect for the many representatives of the international community and civil society now working in Mogadishu, and for our UN staff, of whom over 100 internationals are now working in Mogadishu under SRSG (Special Representative of the Secretary-General) Nicholas Kay as we prepare to establish an integrated mission in January. I came away heartened by the commitment of Somalia’s Government and people, and their international partners, to peace and unity, as well as to development and human rights.
But I also found reasons for concern. As the Secretary-General has informed the Council in the letter before you today ‑ and as I heard from many of my colleagues on the ground ‑ this moment of hope in Somalia is fragile. High expectations are directed at the United Nations and the African Union. The findings of the African Union-United Nations mission on security are clear. After 18 months of successful operations that uprooted Al-Shabaab from major cities, the campaign by AMISOM and Somali forces has, in recent months, ground to a halt. The AMISOM Force Commander told me that neither AMISOM nor the Somali army has the capacity to push beyond areas already recovered. Their hold on the existing territory would be tenuous if the current status quo continues.
While these forces remain largely static, Al-Shabaab is mobile and is training and recruiting substantial numbers of frustrated, unemployed young men. There has been a surge in deadly attacks. Although weakened, the insurgency is still able to conduct terror operations ‑ not only in its areas of control, but in Mogadishu and Kismayo, and elsewhere ‑ as we saw in last month’s horrific attack on the Westgate Mall in Nairobi.
It is the joint recommendation of the Secretary-General and the African Union that AMISOM and Somali forces need a significant temporary boost to maintain the basic security required for peacebuilding, as well as to respond to the evolving threat from Al-Shabaab. The letter of the Secretary-General of 14 October provides the details of these proposals.
The recommended enhancements for AMISOM, including helicopters and other enablers, will allow the force to regain the initiative against the insurgency, and to recover strategic locations that are exploited by Al-Shabaab to generate revenue and to recruit and train combatants. The recommendations for non-lethal and logistic support to the Somali National Forces are equally critical ‑ for medical support, transport, tents, food and fuel. This would enable the Somalis to operate effectively alongside AMISOM, improving their capacity to hold cleared areas until the Somali National Police can take over, with AMISOM police support. It is, of course, of significant long-term importance.
Council members will recall that we have previously provided assistance along similar lines to national forces in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, under the guidance of a human rights due diligence policy. The Government of Somalia conceded that, without this support to the national forces, no significant progress should be expected. With this background, I urge the Security Council to find ways to adequately provide for this support. This would also substantially facilitate the crucially important recovery and development efforts of the UN and other actors on the ground. It is hard to ask for additional resources in our present difficult financial environment. But it is my duty to advise this Council that, without increased support, our present ‑ and indeed past ‑ investment in peace, and that of millions of Somalis, may be lost.
Success in Somalia has been achieved through a unique brand of multilateralism. The United Nations, African Union, IGAD (Intergovernmental Authority on Development) and the European Union have combined together in a creative, responsible and effective way. If we do not reinforce this progress by additional resources and presence on the ground, we risk a setback for a great example of multilateralism, as well as exposing the Somali people to aggravated violence and poverty.
I would now like to draw the Council’s attention to the Secretary-General’s advice with regard to the safety of UN staff in Somalia. In Mogadishu, I met with UN colleagues working with great dedication in conditions of high risk. The surge of attacks and threats in recent months places them under great pressure. At the same time, this surge is a serious obstacle to the implementation of resolutions 2093 (2013) and 2102 (2013), which mandated the Secretary-General to establish an enhanced UN presence in Somalia. It also risks setting back our vital work for recovery and development on the ground in the country.
Following the attack on 19 June, UN agencies, funds and programmes have a severely restricted capacity to plan and deliver programmes. I visited the site of the attack in Mogadishu, in order to pay my respects to the victims, and to personally thank the courageous UN staff who protected our colleagues that day. It was a sombre moment, but it made me and my colleagues feel all the more determined not to let extremists set the agenda and, by instilling fear, stop our efforts to help the Somali people.
The security of the UN in Mogadishu and Somalia requires urgent attention. We owe our staff secure accommodation and the protected mobility required to do their work in the country. With AMISOM’s present assets and with competing priorities, it is not realistic to substantially step up protection of UN installations and operations as these are to expand. I therefore ask the Council to authorize the deployment of a UN Guard Unit to protect UN locations until national forces can assume their responsibility.
At the same time, we need to invest in measures that can increase the Somali Federal Government’s capacity to protect international operations for the long term. That is why we recommend supporting Somali police units to provide mobile security for the United Nations as part of security-sector development under the New Deal framework. I urge the Council to support these recommendations.
It is essential that security efforts proceed hand-in-hand with the political, peacebuilding and developmental efforts. Security, reconciliation and development must proceed in parallel in order to take root and mutually reinforce each other. This is reflected in the benchmarks that the Secretary-General has set for the deployment of a UN peacekeeping operation. These cover advances in the campaign against Al-Shabaab, the development of capacity for the Somali National Army and Somali National Police, and progress on reconciliation, as well as work on the constitution and preparations of elections for 2016.
These are the key steps for progress for the Somalis and for the international community’s investment in Somalia between now and 2016. The United Nations will continue to work closely with the Government and international partners to help create these conditions. This requires an integrated strategy that combines political engagement and support of peacebuilding, rule of law and development. Should the Council so decide, the deployment of a UN peacekeeping operation could then mark an exit strategy for the current operations and a milestone in our work for peace in Somalia.
Let me now turn briefly to the report of the Secretary-General on piracy and armed robbery off the coast of Somalia. This report is a timely reminder of how effective security instruments can be in fighting destabilizing forces. The number of piracy incidents has decreased considerably. At the same time, the report highlights the need for a comprehensive strategy to sustain these security gains.
More work is required to address the underlying causes of piracy in Somalia. As the Secretary-General notes in his report, the security, development and governance factors have not changed sufficiently to deter criminals from attacking ships and holding seafarers hostage. We must remain vigilant. The international naval presence remains vital for conducting counter-piracy operations pursuant to Security Council resolution 2077 (2012), as does Member States’ commitment to prosecute suspected pirates.
I also call on Member States to expand efforts towards developing Somalia’s Maritime Resource and Security Strategy. This is the anchor for improving the governance of Somalia’s maritime resources and expanding economic opportunities for their citizens.
This report underscores the importance of coordinated international action and of the self-protection measures developed by the shipping industry. I commend the work of the Contact Group on Piracy in fostering cooperation, sharing information and mobilizing resources.
Looking ahead, the policy and legal issues governing the deployment of contracted armed security personnel on board vessels will require continued close attention.
And, finally, let us not forget that Somali pirates are presently holding hostage 60 seafarers. This is a matter of serious international concern. We must continue to insist that all hostages are to be released immediately.
In the long term, our shared goal is for Somalia to assume full responsibility for its own security within the framework of the rule of law. This Council has requested the Somali authorities to report on the structure of its security forces among the measures to ensure safe management and accountability for weapons and military equipment under the terms of resolution 2093 (2013). I understand that this report is expected to reach the Council shortly. I urge the Federal Government to expedite its submission.
In closing, the Government and people of Somalia, as well as international partners, are on the verge of rebuilding a shattered State and rescuing millions of people from conflict and poverty. The international community’s commitment to Somalia is reflected in the $2.4 billion pledged in Brussels in September under the New Deal. But ‑ and this is a big but ‑ without a sufficient level of security, what we have worked so hard for could be sacrificed, could be lost. The attack in June on the UN in Mogadishu and the terror act in Nairobi in September underline Al-Shabaab’s intent to force an international retreat from Somalia and to inflict suffering on Somalis in order to erode their confidence in the peace process and indeed in the future.
This is why we must support AMISOM and at the same time invest in Somali National Forces, as well as in protecting our staff. I appeal for the Council’s positive consideration of these recommendations.
* *** *For information media • not an official record