16 December 2008


16 December 2008
Department of Public Information • News and Media Division • New York

give african forces in somalia substantial, credible backing, Secretary-General

urges as Security Council considers challenges facing horn of africa country

Following is the text of UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon’s briefing to the Security Council on the situation in Somalia, in New York, 16 December:

Today’s meeting comes at a critical juncture in the continuing tragedy of Somalia.

Ethiopia’s statement in a 25 November letter to me that it plans to withdraw its troops from Somalia by the end of this year is consistent with the Djibouti Agreement but could easily lead to chaos.  In response to the risk of a deterioration in the security situation and concerns expressed by the African Union, this body and the African Union must work closely together to provide additional support to the African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM), to enhance its capacity to defend itself and to continue to hold strategic areas in Mogadishu while efforts to build the Somali security structures under the Djibouti process continue.  Prime Minister Meles Zenawi has reiterated to the Ethiopian Parliament his intention to completely withdraw the troops in two weeks.

The African Union is scheduled to discuss renewal of an AMISOM mandate at a ministerial meeting in Addis Ababa on 22 December.  If they do not renew the mandate, the AMISOM forces are likely to depart before the Ethiopian forces are withdrawn.  We are, however, encouraged by the indication by both Burundi and Uganda that they are prepared to deploy additional battalions to AMISOM if the essential resources are made available.  All eyes are on the discussion in this chamber to gauge the determination of the international community in response to this danger.  Our actions today will be critical to the African Union’s decisions on Somalia next week.

Political Developments

Let me now discuss briefly the latest political developments in Somalia.

There is a credible political process under way in Somalia called the Djibouti process that has been nurtured by my Special Representative, Ahmedou Ould-Abdallah.  Somali parties agreed on 25 November to expand the Transitional Federal Parliament by 275 seats.  The parties also agreed to extend the transitional period, which ends in September 2009, by two years.  The enlarged Parliament is expected to elect a new Somali leadership.  They have also agreed to set up a joint force to form the backbone of a united security force.

The return of the Alliance for the Re-Liberation of Somalia leader Sheikh Sharif and 39 of his members to Mogadishu from their two-year exile is a promising move.  Reports indicate that they were warmly received by Somalis.  This represents a first step in importing and entrenching the Djibouti peace process into Somalia.

As we have said on numerous occasions, the responsibility to bring peace and stability to Somalia rests primarily with the Somalis themselves.  However, the continuing feuding within the Transitional Federal Government and the recent division between the President and the Prime Minister of his duties can jeopardize the peace process and affects the functioning and stability of the Transitional Federal Government.  At the same time, I urge the armed groups in Somalia that have cited Ethiopia’s withdrawal as a condition for ending the fighting to now lay down their weapons and join the Djibouti process.

Humanitarian Situation

Humanitarian access remains severely restricted and the level of insecurity for humanitarian workers and the local civilian population is unacceptably high.  During this year alone, an estimated 250,000 people were displaced from Mogadishu.  The overall number of internally displaced persons stands at 1.3 million and an average of 5,000 Somali refugees arrive every month in the refugee camps in Kenya.

The number of people in need of assistance and livelihood support in Somalia now stands at 3.2 million.  The delivery of such assistance remains a logistical challenge, not least because of piracy, which has increased the cost of transporting supplies.

I am deeply concerned about the direct targeting of aid workers and United Nations staff, which has led to the death of four United Nations staff between September and December.  The challenges are huge, but humanitarian agencies continue to deliver relief supplies, including in conflict areas.  If the security situation deteriorates, access to humanitarian assistance will only get worse.

Security Arrangements

I have repeatedly stated that the most appropriate response to the complex security challenges in Somalia is a multinational force, rather than a typical peacekeeping operation.  Such a force should have the full military capabilities required to support the cessation of armed confrontation to stabilize Mogadishu and to defend itself.

I have approached 50 countries and three international organizations to request contributions for a multinational force.  The response has not been encouraging; no Member State has offered to play the lead nation role.

In the absence of adequate pledges for a multinational force, I intend to propose to the Council three concrete measures that would provide the necessary security arrangements in support of the Djibouti peace process.  If successful, these would pave the way for the deployment of a United Nations peacekeeping operation, in keeping with Security Council resolution 1814 (2008).

First, we should provide the African Union with substantial and credible resources to reinforce AMISOM, including the means to deploy the additional battalions pledged by Uganda and Burundi.  I will also suggest that all resources pledged for a multinational force be redirected to AMISOM, if a multinational force does not materialize.  Financing will be a major concern and we will have to explore with Member States creative approaches to mobilize the needed funds.  As we are liquidating the United Nations Mission in Ethiopia and Eritrea (UNMEE), we have already identified assets that could be donated to AMISOM, with the approval of the General Assembly.

Second, the Security Council should consider ways to build the capacity of Somali parties themselves to restore security, import the Djibouti talks into Somalia and carry forward the peace process.  This could include the provision of training -- through international partners -- for the joint Transitional Federal Government-Alliance for the Re-Liberation of Somalia forces established by the Djibouti Agreement, as well as capacity-building for the police, judicial and corrections sectors.  Such efforts would be conducted under an overall security-sector reform strategy, which could be nationally owned, with the United Nations assuming a coordinating role.

Finally, the Council could explore the possibility of establishing a Maritime Task Force, or adding to the current anti-piracy operations a quick reaction component.  This would have the capability to launch operations into Somalia in support of the United Nations Political Office in Somalia (UNPOS) activities and AMISOM operations.

Our objective is to stabilize Somalia and find a durable solution to the crisis in that country.  I recognize that some members of the Council have other suggestions for dealing with the security crisis in Somalia, including putting the AMISOM forces under a United Nations peacekeeping operation now.  That is not our preferred option.  We are of the view that strengthening of the AMISOM through inter alia, the provision of financing, logistical support, necessary training and equipment and other reinforcements facilitated by the United Nations and Member States is the realistic option at this time.  At the same time, we are continuing contingency planning for the deployment of a fully fledged United Nations peacekeeping operation at the appropriate time and under the right conditions, as requested by the Council.  I will soon provide a detailed report to the Security Council covering these proposals.


I share the deep concern of Member States at the escalation of acts of piracy and armed robbery off the coast of Somalia.  I welcome the actions this Council has just taken to deal with this issue.

I am particularly impressed by the actions of Member States and international organizations to pool their efforts and resources to fight piracy and armed robbery at sea.  I want to offer my thanks to the European Union, North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO), and individual Member States that have contributed in this regard.  The need to coordinate and fortify these efforts remains an ongoing one.  My Special Representative for Somalia convened an international conference on piracy on 11-12 December to further discuss this issue.  My Legal Adviser stands ready to assist States in trying to find a solution to the practical, legal and jurisdictional issues involved.  As requested by the Security Council in its resolution 1846 of 2 December 2008, I will submit recommendations on ways to ensure the long-term security of international navigation off the coast of Somalia.  In the interim, the Secretariat has designated a focal point in the Office of Military Affairs of Department of Peacekeeping Operations for information sharing on anti-piracy operations.


We must be mindful that piracy is a symptom of the state of anarchy which has persisted in that country for over 17 years.  This lawlessness constitutes a serious threat to regional stability and to international peace and security.

Our anti-piracy efforts must be placed in the context of a comprehensive approach which fosters an inclusive peace process in Somalia and assists the parties to rebuild security, governance capacity, address human rights issues and harness economic opportunities throughout the country.

I appeal to the leaders and people of Somalia to give peace a chance and put the 17 years of war behind them.  I am particularly disturbed by the continuing disunity of the Government’s leadership.  Without an effective and unified Government to support, there is little that the United Nations, and indeed the international community can do in Somalia.  I urge the country’s leaders to put their differences aside and place the future of the Somali people first.

As the international community, we must today send a positive political signal to the Somali people and the African Union that we are willing to provide a security path that will complement the political compromises reached through the Djibouti process.  We must act before it is too late.

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For information media • not an official record
For information media. Not an official record.