New York, 15 Jan 2009 (Somalilandpress) – Representatives of African Union, Arab League Urge No-fly Zone, Anti-piracy Actions; Stress Importance of Djibouti Process
The crisis in Somalia was no longer local or even regional, but a global one that could no longer be ignored, Ahmedou Ould-Abdallah, the Secretary-General’s top representative in that country, said today in a briefing to the Security Council.
Mr. Ould-Abdallah, Special Representative of the of the Secretary-General and Head of the United Nations Political Office for Somalia (UNPOS), said the county’s Transitional Federal Government had made significant progress, despite repeated armed assaults by externally funded extremists attempting to overthrow it.
Citing the Government’s accomplishments, he said they included establishing its authority in Mogadishu, the capital; drawing up a budget; recruiting and training security forces; and keeping its political legitimacy over violent and extremist groups. The Government had remained open to all Somalis who were ready for dialogue and reconciliation, he said, adding that Somalia was moving from failed State to fragile State.
The international community should overcome two main challenges, he said, describing the first as the absence of concrete commitment and determined international policy. Continued hesitation and lack of effective action had weakened the Government and encouraged the extremists, who included many foreigners whose ultimate objective was to maintain a permanent state of anarchy or to establish a militant State. Their ambitions went well beyond Mogadishu and Somalia, and posed a real threat to neighbouring countries, the Intergovernmental Authority for Development (IGAD) region and even distant lands.
He said the second challenge was the delay in translating international support into the necessary material assistance. Over the last 10 to 15 years, the international community had spent more than $8 billion in various forms of assistance, dealing primarily with the symptoms of the crisis, while the Government lacked the resources to fund even the most basic requirements, such as paying salaries. By contrast, its opponents and allied extremists received unlimited and unchecked financial support.
“Therefore, we cannot afford to keep managing the status quo while waiting for the perfect conditions,” he emphasized, proposing that the international community depart from the past practice of applying uncoordinated efforts and individual diplomatic initiatives in favour of supporting a common policy objective in the context of the Djibouti Peace Agreement. The Council should send a strong and clear signal to the extremists by strengthening the Government in a practical manner, he said, calling on the international community to provide more vigorous moral, diplomatic and financial assistance. “Assistance delayed is assistance denied.”
It had become imperative to work more closely with IGAD, the African Union, the League of Arab States and the Organization of the Islamic Conference, he continued. The African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM) deserved, as an emergency matter, support through troop allowances increased to the international level, the timely disbursement of those allowances, and payment for lethal equipment.
The Council should also vigorously address the role of the spoilers, he said. A clear and effective message, backed by concrete action, would demonstrate that those who funded the extremists -– “creating misery for innocent civilians, violating international law, including through recruitment of child soldiers and threatening peace and stability of the region” -– would no longer enjoy impunity. “The protection of civilians is an obligation long ignored in Somalia,” he noted.
He said those recommendations would be implemented more effectively once the United Nations family working on Somalia operated in an integrated and harmonized manner. There was a need to accelerate the move by the Organization and the international community to Mogadishu. “To help the Somalis, especially the victims, we have to be with them,” he stressed. Failure to intervene actively to restore stability was already threatening the effectiveness of the international community, in addition to costing vast amounts of resources. Failure to act decisively could only lead to a dramatic increase in that cost.
Ramtane Lamamra, Commissioner for Peace and Security of the Africa Union Commission, also briefed the Council on behalf of the regional body, noting that 2009 had been a particularly difficult year for Somalia. It had also been a different one in the sense that many of the country’s complex problems were now being addressed. The enemies of peace and reconciliation had stepped up their actions in their determination to undo the results of the Djibouti process and to make Somalia a regional trouble spot and support point for piracy and terrorism.
The links between Somalia’s Al-Shabaab movement and international jihadism had been confirmed, as had its relations with Al-Qaida and the influx of foreign fighters into the country, he said. That had led to a surge in terrorist acts. One of the effects was a perception that the situation in Somalia was structurally precarious, but the past year had seen genuine momentum in terms of the rebirth of the State and the expansion of the Government.
He went on to note that while AMISOM had lost twice as many people in 2009 as it had over the total previous period of its existence, it had been reinforced in numbers, capacity and experience. On 8 January, the African Union Peace and Security Council had extended the Mission’s mandate for 12 months, and it was to be hoped that the United Nations Security Council would follow suit.
The Council should also impose a no-fly zone as well as control of Somalia’s seaports to deny insurgents the use of its air and maritime space. The African Union Peace and Security Council had expressed its concern about the piracy and kidnapping-for-ransom which fuelled extremism and had reiterated its request that its United Nations counterpart take the necessary measures to integrate AMISOM into a peacekeeping operation of the world body.
He said Somalia and the international community had now made sufficient gains upon which to base a daring strategic vision of Somalia as being no longer a threat to its own people, the region and the world by the end of the transitional period in October 2011. Humanitarian assistance, quick-impact projects and development activities that would create jobs should contribute to those efforts.
Yahya Mahmassani, Permanent Observer for the League of Arab States, described the situation in Somalia as the main challenge to peace and security in the Horn of Africa, emphasizing that the country’s security and humanitarian crisis had worsened to become one of the worst ever known to the continent. Inaction by the international community had contributed to a further worsening.
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A political solution must be based on national consensus achieved through the Djibouti process, he said. AMISOM sought to preserve that framework and, as such, required full support. All political parties must be included in the dialogue. The Arab League called on States and regional groups to take part in the Mission and to help complete its deployment, including through the provision of financial and logistical support. The renewal of its mandate by the Council was absolutely necessary to protect Somalia’s legitimate institutions.
He urged the international community to meet the challenge of humanitarian assistance immediately through closer cooperation among humanitarian agencies. The deteriorating security situation contributed to the “security disorder” along the coastline, as demonstrated by rising piracy. While the international community should be mindful of the need to end piracy, the situation also called for the Council to “take necessary measures” to tackle its root causes, including the absence of strong State institutions.
Elmi Ahmed Duale ( Somalia) stressed the importance of security, without which meaningful progress in economic development, employment, peace and stability would be difficult to achieve. It was to be hoped that UNPOS could be established within, rather than outside, the country. Security could be attained by rebuilding sufficiently the Somali national security forces, including the army, police and coast guard, in addition to justice and correction units. At the same time, there was a need to strengthen all aspects of AMISOM and to make it part of a larger United Nations effort. The Mission should be made an integral part of a peacekeeping force whose deployment should happen sooner rather than later.
Attributing Somalia’s inadequate progress in improving security to a lack of resources, he pointed out that the Government had received only a small portion of confirmed pledges made in Brussels last April. As such, he appealed urgently to States to release their pledged contributions. An improved security situation was also the way to improve the delivery of humanitarian assistance.
On piracy, he said it was merely “a symptom of the security situation”. Similarly, the key to improving the human rights situation lay in improving security; wherever there was conflict in the world, violations of human rights were bound to be found. The Transitional Federal Government was committed to the observance of human rights, and the Cabinet had endorsed the Convention of the Rights of the Child, with ratification to follow soon.
The Government was also committed to reconciliation, an area in which more needed to be done despite some progress, he said. The Government would continue to reach out to all elements, but would uphold its obligation to repel and resist armed violence. Its strategy for 2010 would focus on reconciliation and outreach, security, the international conference on recovery and reconstruction, and effective cooperation with neighbouring States.
He said the Transitional Federal Government considered that the Secretary-General’s three-phase incremental approach might prove inadequate, given the dire humanitarian situation. It might have been useful had it been implemented earlier. What was needed was not a light United Nations footprint but a heavy one, he stressed. The Transitional Federal Government supported the Secretary-General’s request that the Council renew the UNPOS mandate for 2010-2011, and that it renew AMISOM’s mandate for a further 12 months.
The meeting began at 3:06 p.m. and ended at 3:56 p.m.
Council members had before them this afternoon the Report of the Secretary-General on the situation in Somalia (document S/2009/684), which provides an update of major developments in the country since 2 October. It also assesses the political, human rights and humanitarian situation, as well as progress in implementing the three-phased incremental approach to obtaining increased United Nations assistance, as set out in the Secretary-General’s April 2009 report. It also covers the operational activities of the United Nations and the international community’s counter-piracy efforts.
In the report, the Secretary-General says that despite the challenging environment and “incessant attacks”, Somalia’s Transitional Federal Government is making progress in critical areas and implementation of the Djibouti Peace Agreement generally remains on track. Because of the precariousness of the situation, including violent attempts to overthrow the Government, a targeted and coordinated effort between the Government and the international community is required in 2010. He encourages the Government to maintain its commitment to reconciliation and calls upon all armed Somali groups outside the peace process to renounce violence and join in reconciliation efforts.
Urging national and international support for the peace process, the Secretary-General says the Government must acquire further capacity and demonstrate greater commitment to consolidating its authority, building up security institutions, restoring the economy and delivering basic services. While it had adopted a budget and improved measures for enhancing domestic revenues, it remained largely dependent on external assistance. For that reason, he appeals to the donor community to release their pledged contributions, only a miniscule percentage of which has been received to date.
He also expresses deep concern about a significant decline in humanitarian funding, noting that the consolidated appeals process seeks $700 million for humanitarian needs in 2010, a 17 per cent drop from 2009, to meet the urgent needs of 3.6 million people. With civilians bearing the brunt of the conflict, he reminds all combatants to respect humanitarian and human rights law, and advocates assistance to help Somalia end impunity and establish institutions for promoting and protecting human rights.
Turning to implementation of the three-phase approach to boosting the United Nations presence, the Secretary-General says planning for a “light footprint” continues although it is subject to delays due to insecurity in Mogadishu, the capital. The logistical support package for the African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM) has prioritized enhanced security measures following the suicide attack on the Mission’s headquarters in September 2009.
The report notes that, as of November, critical humanitarian and other United Nations programmes continued in most parts of Somalia, with 775 national and 57 international staff deployed in-country, including those in the Puntland and Somaliland regions. During the reporting period, senior staff from the United Nations Political Office in Somalia (UNPOS), the UN Support Office for AMISOM (UNSOA), the United Nations Mine Action Service (UNMAS), the Department of Safety and Security (DSS) as well as funds, agencies and programmes of the Organization made 17 visits in the interest of policymaking and planning for support to both AMISOM and the Transitional Federal Government.
According to the report, the Secretary-General recommends a continuation of the current strategy to protect Government and AMISOM troops, as well as civilians, from explosive remnants of war and other such munitions. He also invites the Council to renew for another two years the authorization of UNPOS as well as that of AMISOM, which ends in January 2010, subject to the decision of the African Union Peace and Security Council. He pays tribute to the Mission and calls for greater international support for it.