Security Council

Somalia - Security Council, 8965th meeting

Somalia - Security Council, 8965th meeting

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The situation in Somalia.
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Country Representative Stresses Electoral Process Has Regained Momentum, Trust of Somali People

The international community must galvanize support for Somalia at this critical juncture amid a potential humanitarian catastrophe, a spike in terrorism-related violence, the COVID-19 pandemic, growing food insecurity, climate shocks and long-overdue elections, briefers told the Security Council today.

James Swan, Special Representative of the Secretary-General for Somalia and Head of the United Nations Assistance Mission in Somalia (UNSOM), told the 15-member Council that while occasional flare-ups of political tensions among some Somali leaders have so far been contained, a real risk remains that a miscalculation could spill over into conflict. However, national elections are now more than a year behind the constitutionally prescribed schedule and the Al-Shabaab group continues to pose a major security threat. Welcoming recent Upper House elections, he said this pace needs to be further accelerated. Only 130 of 275 seats of the House of the People have been filled to date, with 22 per cent going to women candidates, a shortfall of the agreed 30 per cent quota for females. In this vein, he urged all Somalia actors to redouble their efforts to meet this target.

Summarizing recent UNSOM activities, he noted ongoing progress on the future configuration of the African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM). Also citing progress in implementing the Somali Transition Plan, he said this is key both for the reconfiguration of AMISOM and for determining the pace of the transfer of responsibilities from that mission to the Somali security forces. That process must continue to be an urgent priority, he stressed. As well, due to the dire humanitarian situation, 7.7 million Somalis require assistance now. Somalia is the most severely drought-affected country in the Horn of Africa, with 4.3 million people impacted and 271,000 displaced. With the next rains not expected until April, the country faces a potential catastrophe, he said, calling for bolstered support, as the Somalia Humanitarian Response Plan for 2022 is currently only 2 per cent funded.

Francisco Caetano Jose Madeira, Special Representative of the Chairperson of the African Union Commission for Somalia and Head of AMISOM, speaking via video-teleconference, said that a clear picture emerging on the security landscape shows that Al-Shabaab appears emboldened to distract the ongoing electoral process, as demonstrated by the 10 February attack on election personnel. For its part, AMISOM continues to provide support to address these and other challenges, he said, highlighting recent efforts to draft a strategy forward based on the goal of the Government taking control of security and other sectors and allowing for the departure of African Union forces and other Mission components. The right type of enablers will be required to give the mission the flexibility that the Transition Plan needs, he stated, adding that gains made around Somali force generation should be enhanced so goals can be realized in a timely manner, with a clear division of labour in the implementation of tasks through improved coordination and enhanced information sharing.

Björn Olof Skoog, Head of the European Union Delegation, in its capacity as observer, echoed calls for continued support for Somalia, and outlining several immediate priorities. He highlighted the importance of concluding parliamentary elections, ensuring a peaceful transition of power and forming a functioning Government able to deliver to its population and engage with the international community. While the European Union is willing to support the continued security presence of a reconfigured African Union mission in Somalia, he said there is no support for “more of the same” because the context has evolved, requiring a fresh, holistic approach. In parallel to the reconfiguration, it is essential that the Federal Government of Somalia plans how this drawdown process can be matched by a corresponding generation of the necessary forces required. As for maritime security, he expressed hope that the Council can agree on a revised resolution that better reflects Somali priorities, while also renewing the legal provisions necessary for the continuation of Operation ATALANTA for at least another nine months.

In the ensuing debate, Council members exchanged views, with many agreeing that elections will restore stability, but highlighting the delays in the process and the shortfall of the quota ensuring 30 per cent women being elected to Parliament.

Brazil’s representative highlighted the decisive interplay between the electoral process and stability in Somalia, noting that the postponement of elections poses increased risks. The threat posed by Al-Shabaab endangers that scenario even more, he said.

The United Kingdom’s representative, in a similar vein, also emphasized that completing the electoral process will avoid prolonged political uncertainty while also weaking Al-Shabaab and paving the way for Somalia to access much-needed international financing.

The representative of the United Arab Emirates cautioned that election delays could create a security vacuum. She encouraged all parties to prioritize the holding of fair and inclusive elections, underlining the need to increase the ratio of women’s participation to the quota of 30 per cent.

The United States delegate said security forces should have no role in determining the outcome of the country’s elections. AMISOM should be able to adapt to an evolving situation on the ground with a new mandate and a reconfigured force and through a concerted plan to gradually hand over responsibility to the Somali security forces.

Ghana’s delegate, also speaking for Gabon and Kenya, called on the Council and all stakeholders to support AMISOM in enhancing its operational capacity. More efforts are needed to hamper Al-Shabaab’s ability to carry out attacks, he said, urging the 15-nation organ to distinguish between national stabilization tools and those intended to limit the threat of terrorism.

Ireland’s representative, echoing concerns raised by several Council members, said Somalia is currently witnessing one of the region’s most severe droughts in recent history, as well as a deepening humanitarian crisis. “These harsh realities must focus our minds,” she said, adding that the global community has a responsibility to step up and support the Somali people.

The representative of Somalia said that the electoral process has regained its momentum, as well as the trust of the people. Summarizing recent action to create a clear road map to deliver on key tasks, he said the new reconfigured African Union mission will be agile; its capability will correspond to the threat level in Somalia; and it will be guided by the transitional plan. One objective will be to strengthen and build a well-maintained and sustainable Somali security force that can assume full responsibility across the country.

Turning to other gains, he said Somalia has also accelerated the capacity of its maritime law enforcement agencies. In that regard, the Government will no longer request any modifications to Security Council resolution 2608 (2021) on fighting piracy — which is approaching the end of its three-month technical rollover — as objectives have been achieved after nearly 15 years.

Also speaking today were representatives of India, France, Norway, Mexico, China, Albania and the Russian Federation.

The meeting began at 10:13 a.m. and ended at 11:58 a.m.

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