Nairobi, Kenya

08 March 2017

Secretary-General’s Press Conference at UN Headquarters, Gigiri Complex

Watch on webtv.un.org:

Ladies and gentlemen of the media, thank you very much for your presence.
As you know, I went yesterday to Somalia and I came out of Somalia with a double feeling, a feeling of sorrow, but also a feeling of hope.
First of all, of sorrow – we have witnessed the deadly combination of conflict, of hunger and of disease, caused by the continued struggle of Somalia to be able to defeat Al-Shabaab, to end terrorism and to create conditions for peace to be re-established, but with drought that has had a devastating impact in the economy and in the lives of the Somalis. And in these tragic circumstances, the rapid spread of diarrhoea and cholera killing people, making people suffer enormously, with a clear need of support from the international community.
But also a feeling of hope – there is a new President and a new Prime Minister in Somalia, there is a very clear commitment of the new authorities to progressively build the State, to be able to introduce a tax system in the country, to be able to establish a security architecture in the country, to be able to progressively using also the federal structure, to make the State be present in the different areas of the country, to have a development plan and, simultaneously, to cooperate in a very engaged way with the international community to make Somalia a possible success story in the future.
Now this sorrow and this hope require massive support from the international community. First of all, humanitarian support, we need for the next six months 825 million dollars to help 5.5 million people, to address the devastating impact of drought and disease.
At the same time, in a country where the African Union has had a continued presence with AMISOM guaranteeing the security of the Somali government, and progressively creating the conditions for the country to be free of the activities of terrorist organisations, it is absolutely essential for the funding of AMISOM to be more predictable, for AMISOM to have the resources allowing it to be more effective, even more effective, in their mission, and at the same time it is necessary to support the government of Somalia to build their own national army, to build their own national police force, in order to guarantee that areas that are liberated are then effectively supported with the presence of the State, with the security of the citizens guaranteed and with the possibility of hope to be re-established in the different communities of the country.
Somalia can be a success story if there is now massive support from the international community. They have the right leadership, they have the solidarity of the neighbours and the solidarity of the African Union, they need massive solidarity from the international community, and I hope that the alert that was launched yesterday in combination with what last week was stressed for the four more dramatic situations of famine or risk of famine we have now in the world – Somalia, Yemen, North-eastern part of Nigeria and South Sudan, hoping that this alert will lead to the kind of international solidarity that is absolutely essential.
At the same time, today I had the opportunity to meet with President Uhuru Kenyatta.  There is a very large [convergence] of points of view, both in relation to the strengthening of the UN presence in Kenya, in full support to the Kenyan Government, namely in the application or the implementation of the Sustainable Development Goals, but also in this very important compound of UN offices that represent the only one in the global South.
And we had the opportunity to discuss and again to find identical points of view on how to create the conditions for South Sudan to have an inclusive dialogue leading to a true peaceful settlement of the problems that South Sudan faces and, at the same time, with humanitarian access to be granted to all parts of the territory and with UNMISS, where Kenya will again be an important component to be effective in South Sudan.
We also shared the same concern in relation to the need for this opportunity to be seized in Somalia, for the international community to understand that this opportunity cannot be missed and for massive support to be given; we exchanged views also on other situations like the situation in Burundi, in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, again, with identical points of view, and I took [the opportunity] to express our deep solidarity with the Kenyan people, in a moment in which drought is also impacting Kenya.
Fortunately, of course in Kenya, the Government had the capacity to prepare things and the Country Team will be working in a very committed way with the Government to mitigate the impact of this continued drought but it is also important that the international solidarity supports Kenya, a country that has been so generous in supporting neighbours in distress in many moments of its history. We will be launching soon a Flash Appeal and I hope this Flash Appeal will also get the adequate answer from the international community.
I wanted to be brief, I am at your disposal for the questions that you would like to ask.
Q: On South Sudan, you said Kenya will once again be an effective component of UNMISS. Did you get an idea of when you will have Kenyan troops back in South Sudan? Secondly there have been reports that the US is pushing for funding cuts where UN missions are concerned, particularly the UN Mission in South Sudan and in Darfur – did that come up in your discussions with President Kenyatta?
SG: First of all, there was a mission coming from New York, of our Department of Peacekeeping Operations, that was in Kenya just a few days ago, and they are working now hard to create the conditions for that common agreement to be fully implemented. 
I want to pay tribute to Kenya’s role in peacekeeping and in peace enforcing, namely in the context of Somalia. So it will be an enormous interest from my side [to] see Kenyan troops again, in which I have full confidence assuming their role in South Sudan. It’s a technical matter now - the question of the timing - but it will be soon.
And the second question you asked, I don’t like to anticipate problems before those problems exist. Because when we talk about problems before they exist, you are creating the conditions for the problems to materialise.
The only thing I will say is that we will do everything possible to make sure that we have, in all our peacekeeping operations, the capacity to be effective and cost effective, to be able to deserve the confidence of all countries that have been supporting our peacekeeping operations through the mechanism of assessed contributions that was defined for the UN. And I am hoping, some of the operations will inevitably be reduced, two of them will end, Liberia and Côte d’Ivoire; MINUSTAH is now under a very careful programme of review, it’s likely that the operation in Darfur will also be meaningfully reduced because the conditions have changed.
On the other hand, there are situations which require a continued presence – we will be working with a very clear commitment to the people we are supposed to protect but also a very clear commitment to be as effective and as cost effective as it is necessary for an organisation like ours.
Q: Two questions. Number one, you talked about South Sudan and you said that you and Uhuru Kenyatta discussed the possibility of having conclusive talks leading to lasting solutions there but the UN also has issued a report saying that South Sudan is experiencing ethnic cleansing and edging closer to genocide so the question is, what solutions is the UN looking at to what you are now calling a potential genocide in South Sudan? And number two, talking about the Appeal that has been made for the four countries, South Sudan, Somalia, Northeast parts of Nigeria and Yemen, you appealed for 5.6 billion, 4.4 billion was needed by the end of this month.  How much of that has been raised so far and if you don’t meet the deadline for this month, what solutions do you have in mind?
SG: First of all, in relation to South Sudan, indeed we did report some time ago about the risk of genocide and I think that report was very timely, and it had a positive impact. We were able, during the African Union Summit, to come to a complete convergence of IGAD - the regional organisation, the African Union and the UN.
Based on that convergence, we have now President [Alpha Oumar] Konaré as Representative of the African Union, President [Festus] Mogae as Representative of IGAD and Mr. [Nicholas] Haysom as our Representative, working seriously, shuttling not only between Juba and South Africa but also with the neighbouring countries. We have the complete agreement of the neighbouring countries - Sudan, Uganda, Kenya and Ethiopia - on the need to have a common strategy to mitigate as much as possible the fighting and to move to a cessation of hostilities and to have, as you mentioned, an inclusive national dialogue, able to provide a solution to the political problems of the country.
So, we are not yet there, we still have many incidents taking place, fighting taking place, many problems taking place, but the risks of genocide have considerably diminished, and I’m hopeful that with this unity of work, with African leadership, IGAD, African Union and the UN, we will be able to move in the right direction, being aware of the enormous challenges that exist.
Funding is starting to come. We had a successful Conference in Oslo, for the North-eastern part of Nigeria, there are other conferences taking place. The information I got yesterday was that the pledges made for Somalia are now about half of the needs, the pledges, not yet materialised money.
So I am confident that we will probably not reach the totality of what we need but that we will have enough funding to start the build-up of the operations that are necessary to respond and I am hoping that the international community will understand that to address this crisis in countries like Yemen, South Sudan, Somalia and the Northeast of Nigeria, where Boko Haram operates, is not a question of solidarity, it is a question of enlightened self-interest because to fight against the drought, is to stabilise these areas and to stabilise these areas is to create the conditions to fight more effectively terrorism and to fight more effectively terrorism in these situations is also to contribute to global peace and security. As you know, unfortunately, all conflicts are becoming interconnected and connected to the problems of global terrorism.
So I hope that the international community will understand that to support these populations in distress is also in the best interest even of the developed countries of the world.
Q: Thank you, a couple of questions. On the situation in Somalia, the first Appeals went out about a month ago vis-à-vis the risk of famine. Is the situation worse now than it was or would you say that the chances of famine occurring are now reduced because the international community is starting to step up and so is the Government? Or, how would you characterise the situation in Somalia now? And secondly, on AMISOM and the Appeal, it sounded like your statement has very much targeted the EU; criticism has come vis-à-vis cutting funding for AMISOM, is that correct, you want the EU to put more money in? Where do you see this additional money for AMISOM coming from? How do you see it coming? And what would you say really needs to be done vis-à-vis putting a security architecture in Somalia? Thank you.
SG: There are many questions at the same time. I think the risk of famine has not decreased; it has increased, because of the drought that goes on and on and on; and more and more problems in relation to the populations in distress - disease, namely cholera, is growing at an alarming rate. I had the opportunity to visit some of the camps of displaced in Somalia, in Baidoa, and then to visit the hospital where I have seen literally children dying of malnutrition and people dying of cholera and, I mean, it’s not something you will not easily forget.
There is now in place a mechanism of coordination between the central and the regional Governments with the limited capacities they have but also with the international humanitarian system – both the UN agencies, NGOs and the Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement. My belief is that the system in place, if properly funded, will be able to respond, I wouldn’t say to solve all problems, but to respond quite substantially to the risks that exist.
The funding that came until now is very limited, but there are pledges, as I said, around 400 million dollars and I hope that they will materialise, and if they will materialise quickly, I think that the system will be able to respond.  
Now, AMISOM. My belief is that AMISOM is under-equipped in relation to the needs. I visited Somalia several times in my past capacity, and I must say, I gained an enormous admiration for the solders of AMISOM, that were dying. With equipment that reminded me sometimes of the equipment that the Portuguese had decades ago when I was related to the Portuguese Army and the Portuguese Army is probably not one of the most modern in the world, as you can imagine. No night vision equipment - at the time I remember there were no helicopters available in Mogadishu, the capacity of mobility was very, very limited, so it’s clear AMISOM has been doing a remarkable work, in very precarious conditions.
Now AMISOM is doing peace enforcing. The UN has not the ability to do peace enforcing. The UN has a peacekeeping capacity, but not a peace enforcing capacity.
As you know, in other peace enforcing missions that took place in the world, peace enforcing was all outsourced - to NATO in the Balkans and to AMISOM in Somalia, but based on resolutions of the Security Council in the case of Somalia. And so it is my belief that there is a responsibility of the international community to fund AMISOM, and ideally it shouldn’t be with voluntary contributions. 
I am not here to criticise the European Union, I am here to appeal to the international community as a whole to assume that responsibility and in my opinion, I am giving you a personal opinion, this is something I will be ready to affirm to the Security Council, I believe operations like these should be at least partially funded with assessed contributions. Because what they are doing is not only a mission in Somalia, it is a mission that is protecting our global security at the global level, and I think that if AMISOM is properly equipped, if AMISOM has the resources that AMISOM has been requiring, that will contribute to substantially improve the situation in Somalia. With one condition, and you mentioned it, AMISOM will be able to do operations but the only way for a country to sustain peace is with country national institutions – with a Somalian national army, with a Somalian national police.
And the good news here is that I have seen the present leadership totally committed not only to build up these institutions but also to build the national resource mobilisation capacity for that purpose, namely to be able to create taxes in the country.
And so again the international community needs to support Somalia to make sure that the State of Somalia progressively creates the institutions that are necessary for Somalia to be able to sustain the peace that AMISOM will progressively be able to secure in some areas but will not be able to, this is never done by foreigners anywhere in the world, will not be able to sustain permanently.
So if you want, it’s a three-track approach for the international community – humanitarian response and resilience, building resilience of the communities. Second, support AMISOM to be able to do effectively the job.  Third, support the new Somali leadership. I think there is an opportunity there to build up the institutions that are necessary for Somalia progressively to be able to stand by itself. Thank you.