Security Council Welcomes Recent Launch of United Nations Assistance Mission

The Security Council today welcomed the launch on 3 June of the United Nations Assistance Mission in Somalia, which, the Secretary-General says in his latest report, is a “fresh start” in United Nations engagement in that strife-torn nation, as it is based on a vision underpinned by current needs and opportunities and reinforces the scope for new partnerships and funding requirements.

In a statement read out by Mark Simmonds, Minister for Africa of the United Kingdom, whose delegation holds the Council’s rotating presidency for the month, the Council underscored the importance of the new Mission, known as UNSOM, quickly establishing a “significant presence” in the Somali capital, Mogadishu, and beyond to support the Federal Government’s peace and reconciliation agenda and plans to strengthen the armed forces and police, rebuild the judiciary, and improve public financial management.

Further to the text, the Council expressed its full support for the communiqué of the 7 May Somalia Conference held in London that backed the Somali authorities in achieving those aims.  And, it reiterated its expectation that UNSOM would become an integrated mission by 1 January 2014.  It called on such international partners as the African Union, the Intergovernmental Agency on Development (IGAD) and the European Union to cooperate with the new entity.

While the Council welcomed recent progress in security, it expressed concern in its statement that the gains were fragile, and underscored the importance of addressing outstanding issues that were vital for Somalia’s long-term stability.

Voicing his support for UNSOM was Jan Eliasson, United Nations Deputy Secretary-General, who said the entity would be an integrated Mission, offering “one door to knock on” for Somalia’s engagement with the United Nations.  He called on the Council to give UNSOM the requisite resources to carry out its mandate.  Mr. Eliasson lauded the Somali Government, launched eight months ago, for establishing a political programme and plans for stabilization and peacebuilding, as well as a process to review the Provisional Constitution ahead of elections planned for 2016.

He encouraged all partners to support those efforts and outcomes of the Somali aid conference in London last month, during which donors had pledged more than $300 million.  “We should all agree on a framework for future coordination, building on the London II Conference and on the side meeting on Somalia at the Tokyo International Conference on African Development,” he said, welcoming the launch of the “New Deal” and development of a new aid compact, with Somalis at the centre.

Similarly, Mr. Simmonds said the international community had a “collective responsibility” to ensure continued support for Somali peacebuilding.  “We cannot be complacent,” he said, stressing that if Somalia was allowed to backslide, the consequences would contribute to regional instability, piracy and terrorism.  There was very real suffering each day, and the world could not stand by and risk another famine in the country.  Further, recent attacks by Al-Shabaab showed that the group remained determined to kill innocent civilians and halt progress.

To counter such threats, he urged support for the President’s six-point plan and for ensuring that commitments made in London were both carried out and aligned with Somali priorities.  In addition, Somali security forces must have clear oversight, which would allow the Government to fulfil its role of protecting public order.  Work to develop the country’s security forces must be in step with the Government’s plans.  Human rights concerns also must be addressed, especially as Somalia remained one of the worst places in the world to be a woman.

Council members expressed optimism for sustainable peace and stability in what had previously been described as a failed State.  But many felt the gains were fragile and reversible, as the militant group Al-Shabaab still controlled large swaths of territory and remained intent on destabilizing liberated areas.  Clan rivalries and foreign influences also highlighted the risk of destabilization.  Still, members noted the Somali President’s willingness to ensure stability and development, and respect for human rights, and they voiced support for his six-pillar plan aimed at tackling the most urgent issues.

Fowsiyo Yusuf Haji Adan, Somalia’s Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs, said the Council’s support was critical to bringing about a politically, economically and socially stable country.  There had been “encouraging” developments since her last briefing to the Council on 14 February, notably the Federal Government’s implementation of its six-pillar policy framework and recovery of routes previously held by Al-Shabaab.

“Let’s be under no illusion that the road is clear,” she cautioned, stressing that those groups still threatened peace, millions of people still lived in refugee camps and Somalia still lacked education, sanitation and other basic services.  The most pressing goal was to end, once and for all, the threat of conflict that bubbled beneath the surface of so many communities.

off the coast of Somalia.  The Council stresses the primary responsibility of Somalia in the fight against piracy and armed robbery at sea.  The Council welcomes the substantial reduction in the number of successful piracy-related attacks brought about by effective counter-piracy measures through increased national, bilateral and multilateral initiatives and regional cooperative mechanisms, and recognizes the need for counter-piracy efforts to continue, because these gains are reversible as long as the conditions ashore are conducive to piracy activity at sea.  The Security Council encourages the Government of Somalia to adopt and implement anti-piracy legislation without further delay.

Xafiiska Wararka Midnimo, webmaster@midnimo.com

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