|Department of Public Information • News and Media Division • New York|
6681st Meeting* (AM)
We Must Seize Moment of Fresh Opportunities in Somalia, Secretary-General Tells
Security Council during Briefing on His Recent Visit
He Stresses Need for Stronger Military Support,
Transitional Federal Government Outreach Efforts as Liberated Zones Grow
Deeming the present juncture in Somalia as crucial for the international community, the country’s people and the region’s stability, the Secretary-General told the Security Council today: “We finally face a moment of fresh opportunities. We must seize it.”
All districts of Mogadishu were now effectively under the control of the Transitional Federal Government, with the support of the African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM), he said while briefing the Council on his unannounced 9 December visit to the Somali capital.
Recalling the Force Commander’s assessment of the still difficult circumstances, however, he said that “in an urban environment, we must secure gains and extend them beyond Mogadishu”. That required AMISOM to deploy at its full strength of 12,000 troops, and demanded the necessary force enablers, including air assets such as helicopters, and military engineering capabilities, he said.
Beyond Mogadishu, he said, the Islamist insurgents were retreating under mounting pressure from Government forces and their militia allies, backed by Kenyan and Ethiopian forces. That represented a unique opportunity to help stabilize the country at large.
The United Nations was helping the African Union and the Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD) to develop coherent military planning in the country, he continued. “We must ensure that the military strategy is aligned with political objectives,” he stressed. As more territory was liberated, the Transitional Federal Government must strengthen its outreach to the local population and form new regional entities, he added.
In his report before the Council today (document S/2011/759), the Secretary-General asserts: “We must continue to approach the complex problems in Somalia with care and sensitivity. As we move towards the end of the transition in August 2012, special efforts should be made to protect the hard-won security and political gains of the past few years.”
The meeting began at 11:05 a.m. and ended at 11:16 a.m.
BAN KI-MOON, Secretary-General of the United Nations, shared his perspective on Somalia following his visit there on 9 December, saying the country had been a priority since he had taken office. “A few years ago, people tended to think of Somalia as a place of famine or bloodshed,” he said. “I wanted to change the way we see Somalia. We finally face a moment of fresh opportunities. We must seize it.”
That the visit had even been possible was a sign of improved security and the investment that the United Nations had made in supporting the African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM), he said, noting that all districts of the capital were now effectively under the control of the Transitional Federal Government with AMISOM’s support. He added that he had congratulated Transitional Federal Government and AMISOM soldiers and extended condolences to the families of those who had fallen, as well as to the Governments of Somalia, Burundi and Uganda.
He said the Mission’s Force Commander had explained the difficult circumstances and the need for adequate military assets to fight an asymmetric terrorist war. “In an urban environment, we must secure gains and extend them beyond Mogadishu,” Mr. Ban stressed. “That requires AMISOM to deploy at its full strength of 12,000 troops, and demands the necessary force enablers, including air assets such as helicopters, and military engineering capabilities.”
He said he had announced during the visit that the United Nations Political Office for Somalia (UNPOS) would relocate to Mogadishu in January 2012. He had also asked the United Nations country team to work more closely with UNPOS to support the Transitional Federal Government’s efforts in governance, recovery, development and capacity-building. “For all of this to be possible, we must expedite arrangements for protecting United Nations and AMISON civilian personnel,” he emphasized.
Despite some progress, however, important deadlines had been missed, he said, adding that he had asked the leadership to intensify efforts to implement the road map and made it clear that the transition must end in August 2012. He also urged them to accelerate constitutional and parliamentary reforms, which required political will, not financial resources. Echoing the Council’s call that continued international assistance rested on continued reform, he had encouraged them to build trust by ensuring accountability and transparency.
Beyond Mogadishu, the Islamist insurgents were retreating under mounting pressure from Government forces and their militia allies, backed by Kenyan and Ethiopian forces, he said. “That represents a unique opportunity to help stabilize the country at large.” The United Nations was helping the African Union and the Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD) to develop coherent military planning in the country, he noted, stressing: “We must ensure that the military strategy is aligned with political objectives.”
As more territory was liberated, the Transitional Federal Government must strengthen its outreach to the local population and form new regional entities, he continued. On the military front, the incorporation of new forces and the expansion of AMISOM must not be excluded. A joint assessment was being undertaken on the ground, and the Security Council would be tapped for a proposal in that regard, he said, joining the African Union and AMISOM troop contributors in asking the Council to reconsider the financial and logistical arrangements for supporting the Mission’s operations in the next phase.
Also critical was boosting efforts to safeguard civilians and the safety of the relief supply route, he said, recalling that he had urged the Kenyan Government, AMISOM and the Transitional Federal Government to uphold the rights of civilians, refugees and asylum-seekers. Prior to his visit, he had met with President Mwai Kibaki in Nairobi and asked for his continued generosity and support to those fleeing Somalia. He had also visited the Dabaab refugee complex in Kenya, which now hosted almost half a million Somali refugees — including more than 190,000 people fleeing famine and insecurity in the past year.
Generous donor contributions and concerted relief efforts had saved hundreds of thousands of lives, he noted, adding that parts of Somalia had been lifted out of famine. However, millions were still in crisis, he pointed out. To add to the suffering, on 28 November, Al-Shabaab had occupied the compounds of 16 organizations operating in south-central Somalia, he said, condemning those actions and calling once again on all parties immediately to allow unimpeded humanitarian access and to refrain from actions that threatened the safety of Somalis and those assisting them. “This is a crucial moment for the international community,” he emphasized. “We must seize this moment for the people of Somalia and the stability of the region.”
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* The 6680th Meeting was closed.