Despite persistent challenges, Somalia was going through "unprecedented change and optimism" which must be turned into stable progress through unified efforts by all stakeholders, the Secretary-General's Special Representative for that country told the Security Council this morning.
"We need to seize the opportunities. Somalia is a country slowly waking from a terrible nightmare," Nicholas Kay, who is also the head of the United Nations Assistance Mission in Somalia (UNSOM), said as he introduced the Secretary-General's latest report on the country (document S/2014/699) in a meeting that also heard from an African Union official and Somalia’s representative. “Somalia’s long night is not over, but the sky is at last getting lighter,” Mr. Kay said.
The Secretary-General’s report stated that, as Somalia reached the mid-point of the four-year term of the Federal Government, the past months had seen growing momentum in steps towards political consolidation. At the same time, the report outlined significant challenges in security, humanitarian needs, development and human rights, affirming that international attention and support in those areas continued to be critical.
In his briefing today, Mr. Kay added that such international support could only be effective with unity of purpose from Somali politicians and leaders. "Neither Somalia nor the international community will have patience for anyone who deliberately stands in the way of peace, reconciliation and stability," he said.
Since his last briefing, he said, the resurgent threat of the Islamist Al-Shabaab militia had undergone "significant reverses” through Operation Indian Ocean — for which he congratulated the African Union Mission known as AMISOM and the Somali National Army — and the death of Al-Shabaab’s leader Ahmed Godane. UNSOM was providing unprecedented support for the Operation, which was carried out with a fraction of the capacity of other military offensives of the same size. However, he stressed, key assets, especially helicopters, were still needed.
In addition, he said more coordinated and realistic plans were needed to develop sustainable security institutions. Stressing that military gains must be consolidated through stabilization, however, he welcomed progress in State formation, reconciliation, establishment of interim regional administrations and the deployment of Somali police officers in some areas. UNSOM would continue to support efforts to strengthen the rule of law.
He stressed that the stabilization process must be accelerated in the central regions, requiring international capacity-building assistance. The processes must be fully inclusive, garnering the participation of women and youth. Greater focus was also needed on strategic communications and a disengaged combatants programme. He reiterated his hope for a new map of a federal Somalia by the end of the year and, if possible, by the time of the Copenhagen High-Level Partnership Forum in November 2014.
He also called for faster progress in establishing the national electoral machinery and the Boundaries and Federation Commission, expressing concern about the risk of political in-fighting in those and other areas and underlining the importance of the current parliamentary session in paving the way for a new constitution and democratic elections in 2016.
Human rights in Somalia remained a concern and priority for UNSOM, he said, pointing to arrests of journalists, closure of media outlets and the increasing use of capital punishment, on which he called for a moratorium. He urged greater progress in establishing the independent Human Rights Commission and called for transparency in investigations into sexual abuse by AMISOM troops.
The humanitarian situation had continued to deteriorate, he said, with over 3 million people needing assistance and a 20 per cent increase of Somalis who could not feed themselves in the past six months. In response, by the end of August, twice as many households were assisted with food aid, with 300 metric tons delivered by air due to insecurity. Better access was critical in newly recovered areas so that unmet needs did not fuel instability.
With new Government transparency mechanisms in place, he said he looked forward to better management of public finances. Donors needed to also strengthen aid transparency in accordance with commitments under the latest Somali Compact, dubbed the “New Deal”. In that context, the Copenhagen conference would be an important moment to take stock of progress and needs. He stressed the importance of the participation of sub-federal administrations in that conference.
Following Mr. Kay’s briefing, Maman Sidikou, the African Union Special Representative for Somalia and Head of AMISOM, thanked the Council for its visit a few months ago. Providing more details on Operation Indian Ocean, he commended the joint planning process with UNSOM and the Somali army. He warned that despite its losses Al-Shabaab still had fighters and resources for a prolonged fight and there were signs that factions were aligning with the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL/ISIS). The struggle against the group must therefore remain a priority.
He affirmed the importance of all partners following through on their commitments in helping to consolidate State authority and providing basic services to help keep the threat of Al-Shabaab at bay. He pledged that AMISOM would continue to play its part, working closely with UNSOM. He also affirmed that all allegations of sexual exploitation by personnel were being investigated.
Awale Ali Kullane (Somalia) said that his Government was working closely with partners to consolidate institutions and provide greater transparency and oversight. Vision 2016 provided a framework for democratization culminating in elections that year. Security, however, must be maintained and strengthened and people living in areas liberated from Al-Shabaab must see their lives improve.
He thanked all those assisting his Government on the security front and underscored the importance of stopping the illicit traffic in arms and charcoal that helped to sustain the insurgents. His Government was committed to implementing all Security Council resolutions, including full cooperation with the sanctions monitoring group, although, he added, he did not agree with all its assertions.
The meeting began at 10:50 a.m. and ended at 11:20 a.m.