I thank the distinguished Ambassador Li Badong of China for convening this meeting and for rallying the international community to the cause of Somalia during this critical period. I wish you all the best as President of the Security Council and I appreciate your leadership.
I would like to [acknowledge] the participation of His Excellency Mr. Mohamed Abdullahi Mohamed, Prime Minister of the Transitional Federal Government of Somalia.
I would also like to recognize the participation of His Excellency Mr. Henry Bellingham, Minister for Africa of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland and also the Special Representative for Somalia of the Commission of the African Union, His Excellency Mr. Boubacar Diarra.
I thank you for all your contributions.
Distinguished members of the Council,
I am pleased that my Special Representative, Augustine Mahiga, is able to join us by video-link from Somalia. I am grateful for his contributions and those of the staff of the UN Political Office for Somalia in keeping the political process moving.
I also thank our staff at the UN Office in Nairobi and the UN Support Office for AMISOM for working so tirelessly and for assisting in the medical evacuation of troops, especially in the past few weeks.
The situation in Somalia requires urgent attention. The military gains by the Transitional Federal Government and AMISOM are fragile. The humanitarian situation is dire. Violence continues to rage.
And given the calls for good governance and a decent life in North Africa and the Middle East, public expectations are likely to be growing in Somalia, too.
If we act now, we can consolidate recent gains and set Somalia on a more promising course.
In recent heavy fighting, dozens of brave peacekeepers of AMISOM from Burundi and Uganda made the ultimate sacrifice in the cause of peace. There are also rising numbers of civilian casualties.
I have spoken with Presidents Nkunziza and Museveni to express my gratitude for their continued commitment to Somalia. I also offered my condolences to the families of the victims.
The TFG and AMISOM have succeeded in expanding the line of control in Mogadishu. The TFG and its ally, Ahlu Sunna wal Jamaa, have opened new fronts in southern Somalia and taken control of major towns previously held by insurgent groups.
We must help them to sustain these gains in order to restore security and deliver basic services, humanitarian aid and support for recovery and reconstruction. Such improvements for the people of Somalia and the thousands of internally displaced persons in zones controlled by the TFG are critical to sustaining the hard-fought military gains.
AMISOM and the TFG forces are delivering on the military front. AMISOM would be even more effective if it had more resources, including helicopters and support for intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance.
The international community must keep its end of the bargain.
There are critical gaps in the UN support package to AMISOM, and significant shortfalls of military assets and equipment. I appeal to Member States to increase their contributions to the Trust Fund for AMISOM and to reimburse contingent-owned equipment and troop-contributing countries.
We must also enable AMISOM to reach its full authorized strength. Building a viable force is as much about troop numbers as it is about the assets that support them.
This would enable the TFG to establish greater space under its control, foster direct links between the Government and its citizens, and promote political dialogue and reconciliation. This would also make it possible for the United Nations to expand its presence in Somalia.
At the same time, the Transitional Federal Institutions have to rise to the challenge on the political and governance fronts, and in achieving stability. Clear political objectives must frame the military objectives.
The Transitional Federal Institutions (TFIs), collectively, have an opportunity to consolidate their authority in the areas under their control. But this opportunity may not last.
The TFIs must find unity of purpose. That spirit should be the driving force behind the talks on the end of the current transitional period and the next chapter for Somalia. Disagreements on the transition could have a negative impact on the security situation and stabilization efforts –including the fate of newly trained members of the Somali forces.
Moreover, any extension of the transition period must be earned. The focus should be on fulfilling outstanding tasks for the transition, including the constitutional process.
Constitution-building is paramount because it provides a platform for national reconciliation. The process would finally allow Somalis to choose their own fate, their own framework for governance, and their own leaders. This exercise should be open and inclusive.
My Special Representative, Mr. Mahiga, has been working to facilitate consensus on these issues. He has also been working closely with the various clan and religious leaders to expand the reconciliation process as stipulated in the Djibouti Agreements.
Piracy off the coast of Somalia remains a grave and growing menace.
The international community has mobilized to stamp out piracy and bring the perpetrators to justice. I welcome improved information sharing and coordination, as well as the deployment of significant military and other assets. But attacks are increasing in number, and the pirates are expanding their geographic reach.
The recent report of my Special Advisor on the legal aspects of piracy off the coast of Somalia, Mr. Jack Lang, highlights the need for urgent action.
We must forge an integrated response based on three pillars: deterrence, development, and security.
The UN Political Office for Somalia (UNPOS), together with the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) and the International Maritime Organization (IMO), recently revitalized the “Kampala Process,” a mechanism for dialogue that brings together the TFG, “Somaliland,” “Puntland” and other regional Somali authorities. I hope this important forum will continue to meet throughout the year.
I am also concerned about the drought unfolding in Somalia.
UNHCR reports that drought has displaced some 50,000 people during the past two months. Many are moving to urban areas in search of help.
In the Hiraan region of Central Somalia, 70 per cent of the population is in crisis. Food has not been distributed there since the World Food Programme was forced to suspend its operations there in January 2010.
In addition to drought, hostilities are forcing people to flee their homes and villages. According to UNHCR, every week for the past few weeks some 2,500 Somalis have been registered in the overcrowded Dabaab camps in Kenya. Before the fighting and drought, that number was less than 400.
Mogadishu reached a terrible milestone last year when 7,600 people were reported to have weapons-related injuries -- the highest toll in more than a decade. That disturbing trend has continued this year, with more than 1,000 weapon-related injuries reported in the city's hospitals since January.
This year's humanitarian appeal for Somalia seeks $529 million for urgent needs. As of last month, only one quarter of that amount had been funded.
The United Nations Emergency Relief Coordinator has allocated $15 million from the Central Emergency Response Fund. An additional $50 million has been allocated from pooled funding to respond to the drought. But if the traditional “long rains” fail in April, the situation will deteriorate ev