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Security Council, senior UN official urge support, patience as Somalia turns new page

A policeman directs traffic at a checkpoint in downtown Mogadishu, Somalia.
UN Photo/Tobin Jones
A policeman directs traffic at a checkpoint in downtown Mogadishu, Somalia.

Security Council, senior UN official urge support, patience as Somalia turns new page

While welcoming recent progress in Somalia, the Security Council today recognized that gains in security and other sectors ‘remain fragile’ and urged the international community to support the efforts of the Somali Government to tackle outstanding issues vital for the country’s long-term stability.

In a statement adopted at a meeting on Somalia chaired by Mark Simmonds, Parliamentary Under Secretary of State at the Foreign & Commonwealth Office of the United Kingdom, which holds the Council’s presidency for the month, the 15-member body underlined the importance of international support to the Somali Federal Government in building a professional, accountable and capable security force as part of a comprehensive approach to security sector reform.

The Council also reiterated the importance of the Government addressing outstanding issues, such as political reconciliation, development of a federal system, the constitutional review and subsequent referendum process, and preparations for elections in 2016. The Council also reiterated its call for the full inclusion of women in all political process.

Members of the Council emphasized the need for the international community to provide well coordinated, timely and sustained humanitarian assistance “to the millions of Somalis who remain in urgent need of lifesaving support; and development assistance with a focus on livelihood recovery and building community resilience to support [the country’s] transition to sustainable peace and economic development.’

In his briefing to the Council, UN Deputy Secretary-General Jan Eliasson echoed many of those sentiments, as he stressed that dialogue among all Somali partners and continuous support from the international community are the only way to ensure unity and a sound federal structure in the long-troubled country.

“Realizing a federal State in Somalia is a complex and demanding task,” he said, adding: “[Issues] related to the unity and federalism of Somalia can only be resolved through dialogue among the Somalis themselves. This requires patience and pragmatism on all sides.”

Somalia has been torn asunder by factional fighting since 1991 but has recently made progress towards stability. In 2011, Islamist Al-Shabaab insurgents retreated from Mogadishu and last year new Government institutions emerged, as the country ended a transitional phase toward setting up a permanent, democratically-elected Government.

“Eight months since its formation, the Federal Government of Somalia has established its political programme and presented plans for stabilization and peace-building,” Mr. Eliasson noted, but added that recent tensions in Kismayo following the declaration of a regional state in April must be addressed immediately to sustain progress.

On 15 May, 500 delegates to a conference in Kismayo selected a president of what was called ‘Jubaland State of Somalia’, which the Government regards as unconstitutional. Since then, six other candidates have declared themselves president of the new entity.

“While there have so far been no reports of military confrontation, the situation remains volatile,” Mr. Eliasson said, adding that Somalia will need the support of its partners and neighbours to maintain stability the country.

“There is agreement that a strong and stable Somalia is in the interests of all. This recognition should guide regional efforts to address outstanding issues and potential sources of friction.”

Mr. Eliasson said the recently established UN Assistance Mission in Somalia (UNSOM) would help the Government meet this challenge by supporting political dialogue, peacebuilding and the protection of human rights.

“UNSOM has already set up its Headquarters in Mogadishu and will establish its presence across the country, notably in areas recovered from Al-Shabaab, as well as in Garowe and Hargeisa,” he said. “UNSOM will be an integrated Mission, offering ‘one door to knock on’ for Somalia’s engagement with the United Nations.”

He also highlighted the need for both UNSOM and the Government to work jointly with the African Union Mission to Somalia (AMISOM) to ensure security and freedom of movement in the region.

Created in 2007, AMISOM conducts peace support operations in Somalia to stabilize the situation in the country to create conditions for the conduct of humanitarian activities.

“As in so many countries across the continent, partnership of the UN with the African Union is vital to reaching our objectives in Somalia,” he said.

“With the deployment of UNSOM, we will work together on political strategy, peace-building and stabilization, as well as protection of human rights. The new Mission’s impact will also depend on effective security arrangements in close collaboration with AMISOM,” Mr. Eliasson added, and called on the Council to ensure AMISOM has the necessary resources to carry out its operations.

Mr. Eliasson underlined that over the long-term, Somalia must assume its own responsibilities through accountable and effective security institutions.

“This requires a well-funded and coordinated strategic approach,” he said, welcoming the recent pledges of support of more than $300 million which made at the London Conference on Somalia in May.

“Somalia will require sustained and generous international support to continue on the path of progress. This means a clear commitment to the Federal Government to rapidly develop its plans and build its capacities,” he added.

The Deputy Secretary-General reiterated the UN’s engagement in the country in its new phase, and called on the Council to provide its full support to UNSOM, as well as resources so that the Mission can carry out its mandate.

“I call on all to come together in support of the new Government in its efforts to bring peace and stability to the people of Somalia. The Secretary-General and I firmly believe that with the continuous support and firm commitment of its partners, Somalia can achieve its vision: a country in unity and at peace with itself and its neighbours, living under the rule of law, and on the path to economic stability and decent living conditions for all.