Following the end of a political crisis that had gripped Somalia for four months, the process of building a federal State had regained momentum, the Special Representative of the Secretary-General told the Security Council today, stressing that overcoming the prevailing environment of mistrust, accumulated over 25 years, deserved sustained support.
“We need to reinforce success with increased engagement and resources,” said Nicholas Kay, who is also the Head of the United Nations Assistance Mission in Somalia (UNSOM). As the federalism process advanced, the Mission’s work in Somalia’s regions would become ever more critical. “We will seek to maximize our support to existing and new administrations,” he said, which required logistical and security support in difficult circumstances. The African Union-United Nations partnership in Somalia was unique, strong and also essential for success.
Presenting the Secretary-General’s report (document S/2015/331) via video-link from Addis Ababa, Mr. Kay was joined there by Maman Sidikou, Special Representative of the African Union Chairperson for Somalia and Head of the African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM). Omar Abdirashid Ali Sharmarke, Prime Minister of Somalia, updated the Council from Mogadishu.
Mr. Kay said Somalia’s Federal Parliament had begun its 2015 session. Federal, regional and local leaders, parliamentarians and others were building a federal State through dialogue and reconciliation. The President and Prime Minister, as well as the Speaker and leaders of Puntland, Jubba and South West Administrations were determined to deliver on the “Vision 2016” plan without extending the terms of the Federal Parliament or President, in August and September 2016, respectively.
Important targets for the coming months included forming Interim Regional Administrations and assemblies, he said, advancing the constitutional review, establishing the National Independent Electoral Commission and Boundaries and Federation Commission, and finalizing legislation on political parties, citizenship and elections. In addition, there should be no let-up in the constitutional review. He was concerned about the timing of elections in Somaliland, postponed 22 months until March 2017. The timetable should be reconciled based on a political consensus among all Somaliland stakeholders.
On the security front, he said there was a need to monitor and respond to any sign that Al-Shabaab was benefitting from links to extremists in Yemen. Closer State cooperation at the subregional level, including measures to prevent and counter violent extremism, was needed. “We can expect Al-Shabaab to do everything to derail the political process”, he said. In that context, renewing the joint Somali-African Union offensive against Al-Shabaab was a priority. The African Union and the Organization had recently visited Somalia to assess the benchmarks for a United Nations peacekeeping mission, the AMISOM troop surge, and next steps in the military campaign.
On assistance, he said mechanisms created in 2014 to support implementation of the New Deal Somali Compact were starting to perform. He praised the Federal Government for its leadership, noting that a $100 million programme portfolio, aligned with Government priorities and donor resources, had been approved for inclusion in the United Nations Multi-Partner Trust Fund. However, the coordination of international assistance had been uneven, with only 10 per cent of the funds pledged in Brussels in 2013 committed through the Compact architecture.
The humanitarian situation remained alarming, with 730,000 Somalis unable to meet their daily food needs. Another 2.3 million risked sliding into the same situation, among them more than 1.1 million displaced. The situation required attention, funding and upgraded analytical and forecasting systems.
Going forward, he said the High-Level Partnership Forum on 29 July would offer an opportunity for Somalia and its partners to agree on priority actions between now and 2016. The UNSOM mandate remained relevant for the coming year. A review of the United Nations Political Office for Somalia (UNSOA), also in July, would help establish what was feasible.
Next, Mr. Sidikou updated the Council on security issues, as well as on the recently concluded joint African Union-United Nations review of conditions for the possible deployment of a United Nations peacekeeping mission and the steps that AMISOM had taken in response to allegations of sexual abuse by its personnel.
He said there was an elevated threat of Al-Shabaab terrorism through their unabated capability to carry out bombings and targeted assassinations. In response, AMISOM and its Somali counterparts had boosted joint security operations, especially in urban centres. At the same time, joint offensive operations with the Somali National Army had not ended, and there were plans for a massive operation in locations of deepest concern.
On the findings of the Joint Mission, he reported it found that, while progress was being made at different speeds on various benchmarks, “the situation in Somalia as a whole is not conducive for the deployment of a UN peacekeeping operation until the end of 2016 at the earliest”. As such, he welcomed the recommendation to extend the duration of the surge of deployment of AMISOM and its reconfiguration to respond to evolving realities.
The extension, he said, would enable AMISOM to resume the offensive operations against Al-Shabaab, through an enhanced chain of command and with necessary assets such as helicopters. It would also allow it to enable consolidation and stabilization of the recovered areas though a gradual shift to policing and to secure main supply and connection routes.
If AMISOM was to achieve those objectives, however, he stressed that international support to Somali security forces must be increased along the lines of the “Guulwade Victory Plan” drawn up by the country’s authorities. Shortfalls in the logistical support package to AMISOM must also be addressed and capacity of Somali police must be built. In that effort, AMISOM police would support the recruitment, vetting, training and deployment of 600 officers for each of the administrations. The establishment of a support package for that purpose was, therefore, necessary.
Finally, on the results of investigations into sexual abuse allegations by AMISOM personnel as reported by Human Rights Watch in June 2014, he said that proof of two cases of abuse was found and recommendations to ameliorate the situation made. Reiterating the African Union Mission’s commitment to a zero-tolerance policy for such abuse and its respect for the culture and people of Somalia, he enumerated actions being taken to strengthen existing measures, including discussions with troop-contributing countries, which bore primary responsibility for conduct of their cadres.
Mr. Sharmarke said the Federal Government had put forward a strategy to enhance the Army’s capacity to fight Al-Shabaab, alongside AMISOM. Urging support for that plan, a crucial part of which involved the integration of Pundtland militias, he said the Federal Government was seeing momentum in that priority area, which showed its commitment to the federalization of its forces.
“We need to defeat Al-Shabaab and their presence in Pundtland”, he said, stressing that, if that group took root there, it would be difficult to defeat them in the future. “We have a window now.” He asked the Council to authorize a support package to integrate additional personnel into the Somali National Army. It also would be vital to incorporate regional police forces to accelerate efforts to fight piracy.
On the political front, he said progress had been made in advancing the “Vision 2016” plan in central regions. Planning for federalization also had begun. He welcomed the inauguration of the Jubbaland parliament, but cautioned that other issues persisted. The Federal Government was working with opposition leaders to find a compromise over the federalization of that area.
More broadly, he said, the Federal Government was working with Kenya on return of refugees, as well as with authorities in Yemen. Dealing with the human costs of violence in Yemen was a concern to all in the region. Noting that the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees had authorized 100,000 people from Yemen to arrive in Somalia, he said: “We don’t have the resources or the capacity to absorb them.” He asked the Council for a contingency plan.
The meeting began at 10:07 a.m. and ended at 10:45 a.m.