I am delighted to welcome my co-chairs and all of you to this important meeting.
At the outset, I want to convey my sincere condolences to the victims of last week’s terrible tragedy in Mecca. Our thoughts are with the families and Governments of those who were killed, and we wish the injured a speedy recovery.
I salute the leadership of President Hassan Sheikh Mohamud, Prime Minister Omar Sharmarke, the Federal Government, the Federal Parliament and Regional Administrations in advancing the objectives agreed in 2012, in the face of many challenges.
I also take this opportunity to recognize the staff of the United Nations, under the leadership of my Special Representative Mr. Nicholas Kay, and all international partners serving in Somalia, for their dedication to peace.
Somalia has made steady progress in building a federal, democratic state. We have seen the formation of a new interim regional administration, the launch of the constitutional review process, and the creation of a National Independent Electoral Commission. Most recently, I welcome the launch on 19 September of a National Consultative Forum to agree on the 2016 electoral process.
These are important steps, but the momentum must be sustained. Somalia cannot afford to get side-tracked by partisan politics or self-interest. I urge all parties to work together on the goals they have set, including to complete state formation, advance the constitutional review and ensure an inclusive electoral process in 2016. There can be no extensions of the constitutionally mandated terms of the executive and legislature.
The threat of Al-Shabaab continues to destabilize the country. I pay tribute to the African Union and bilateral partners, whose operations with Somali forces have expelled Al-Shabaab from key strongholds. I welcome the Security Council’s intention to review the UN Support Office for AMISOM to ensure it is resourced to support these vital operations, which must be conducted in accordance with international humanitarian law and respect for human rights.
At the same time, the threat of Al-Shabaab cannot be defeated by military means alone. I call on all Somalis, as well as Somalia’s friends, neighbours and partners, to reflect on the need for a more comprehensive approach to counter violent extremism in the country.
We need to understand the factors that drive people to join Al-Shabaab. We must help Somali authorities forge a viable alternative: notably by building a State that offers political inclusion, security, justice and economic opportunity to all -- and that respects the human rights of all and empowers the country’s women. We must help counter propaganda, and offer a path out of violence for those ready to leave Al-Shabaab. A strong regional approach and collaboration will be important in furthering this objective.
As the Security Council has recognized, the time has come to invest more support in the Somali police, to help provide security in areas recovered from Al-Shabaab. I ask all partners to deepen their efforts as part of the broader development of the criminal justice system.
Some 855,000 Somalis face acute food insecurity. Over a million are internally displaced. The arrival of tens of thousands of Somalis fleeing Yemen has brought new pressures. Yet humanitarian partners have received only one-third of the $863 million urgently required.
Finally, I urge partners to devote greater attention to Somalia’s economic recovery, within the framework of the New Deal Compact. Remittances remain a vital lifeline. Somalis must meanwhile develop the transparent and accountable institutions that underpin growth. Only in this way can we truly offer a better alternative to Somalia’s young people.
A better future for Somalia must remain our collective priority.
Thank you for your attention.