Despite Gains against Al-Shabaab, Setting Up Peacekeeping Mission in Somalia Still ‘High-Risk Undertaking’, Top Peacekeeping Official Tells Security Council

SC/11972
16 July 2015
7487th Meeting* (AM)

Despite Gains against Al-Shabaab, Setting Up Peacekeeping Mission in Somalia Still ‘High-Risk Undertaking’, Top Peacekeeping Official Tells Security Council

Establishing a United Nations peacekeeping mission in Somalia at this time would be a “high-risk undertaking” due to continued threats from the Al-Shabaab militant group, a senior United Nations peacekeeping official told the Security Council today.

Briefing the 15-nation body, Edmund Mulet, Assistant Secretary-General for Peacekeeping Operations, noted that the African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM) had made significant gains against Al-Shabaab due to the surge of its uniformed personnel and the logistical support package for the Somali National Army, authorized in Council resolution 2124 (2013).  However, the militant group continued to adapt, launching asymmetric attacks and blocking access to some of the newly recovered areas.  It also expanded its presence in Puntland and became a more significant threat within the subregion.

In that vein, Mr. Mulet urged the Council to take into account the evolving situation and endorse a non-substantial adjustment to the language of the benchmarks for the deployment of a United Nations peacekeeping mission.  Those conditions were based on the political process and the extension of State authority, the threat level, the development of the Somali security institutions, as well as the support of Somalis for such a presence.

On security strategy, he stressed that the international community should engage in Somalia in accordance with the new federal map.  The recommended strategy was designed to create an enabling environment for the political process to unfold in Mogadishu and the regions during the next critical 18 months, and would be guided by three interlocking objectives:  enabling the political process at the federal, regional and district levels; reinitiating offensive operations against Al-Shabaab strongholds as soon as possible, while maintaining continuous and flexible offensive capabilities; and enabling consolidation efforts.

Those objectives, he said, required strong commitments from all partners, including the Somali Federal Government, the African Union, troop-contributing countries and the United Nations.

While improving AMISOM’s efficiency and effectiveness, the surge in its uniformed personnel should be maintained until the end of 2016, as recommended by the Secretary-General, he said, welcoming the African Union Peace and Security Council’s decision to reconfigure the Mission within the authorized ceiling.  The restructuring included enhancing AMISOM’s police component, deploying requisite capabilities, such as quick reaction and special forces, and streamlining command and control.

Ultimately, the proposed security strategy would only succeed if Somali security institutions were supported and able to progressively assume greater responsibility for their own security, he said.  To that end, it was important to devise an enhanced and more coherent architecture for international partners to deliver capacity-building support to the Army and the country’s defence sector.  In that regard, the adoption of the “Guulwade” Plan for the development of the army on 23 April was a critical step forward.

A gradual shift of efforts towards establishing and capacitating the Somali police force was equally critical, he said.  The development of effective and accountable forces, particularly in the regions, must be accelerated.  Noting that the security of Puntland should not be forgotten, he recommended extending the non-lethal support package to 3,000 Puntland forces on an exceptional basis until the end of 2016, but only upon completion of their integration into the Army, as well as their formal inclusion in the “Guulwade” Plan.

Awale Ali Kullane (Somalia) said his country had achieved significant progress in the two years since the Council reviewed the previous benchmarking report.  A new milestone had been reached last week with the election of a President for the Galmuduug Interim Regional Assembly, and parliamentary confirmation of the members of the National Independent Electoral Commission and the Boundaries and Federation Commission.  Those achievements, especially on the federalism front, would not have been possible without the military gains of 2013 and 2014, which opened political space.  However, military efforts were not over.

While Al-Shabaab no longer controlled vast areas of the country, it was still capable of mounting attacks against the Somali National Army and AMISOM, Mr. Kullane said, expressing concern at the attacks during Ramadan.  Echoing the Assistant Secretary-General’s sentiments, he said support must be directed at maintaining AMISOM troop levels and improving efficiency in order to degrade that militant group.  More importantly, long-term national stabilization and withdrawal of international troops could be possible only by building a strong security sector.  There had been some progress towards strengthening the Army and efforts should now focus on developing the police sector.

The Government welcomed the Secretary-General’s recommendation for a gradual handover of responsibilities to Somali security institutions, he said.  While achieving that objective would take time, it should be the guiding light of international efforts.  Somalia also needed international support to build the capacity of its institutions in the capital and the regions, provide employment to youth, develop infrastructure and progressively tackle the roots of the violence.

The meeting began at 11:10 a.m. and ended at 11:25 a.m.

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*   The 7486th Meeting was closed.

For information media. Not an official record.