Thank you, Mr. President, and welcome, Mr. Minister. We extend our congratulations to the United Kingdom for assuming the Council’s presidency and thank the delegation of Togo for its leadership of the Council last month. We thank the Secretary-General for his statement this morning, and thank you, Special Representative Mahiga, for your briefing.
Mr. President, Somalia stands at a critical moment. The international community has an important but limited window of opportunity. AMISOM and Somali forces have driven al Shabaab out of Mogadishu and other areas. The mandate of the Transitional Federal Government -- the TFG -- comes to an end in August 2012, and Somalia now has a blueprint for a state after twenty years without a functional government. At the same time, Somalia is emerging from the worst humanitarian crisis in the world.
The TFG and the international community have already taken important steps. The unanimous adoption of Security Council resolution 2036 on February 22, immediately followed by the London Conference on Somalia, show the international community is united in its commitment to Somalia’s future. I would like to thank the United Kingdom for hosting this important conference, and commend members of the Council for giving unanimous support to AMISOM’s expansion. AMISOM troop levels are now increasing and its funding needs have been established. The “Garowe II” constitutional conference has shown the way to more inclusive governance, with clear benchmarks, and UNPOS is established in Mogadishu.
We have accomplished much, but this is no time to lose momentum. A number of critical tasks lie ahead before the Roadmap’s August deadline. We have six months, and we need to use them wisely.
First, the most important achievement of the London Conference was to galvanize high-level and public international support to continue to keep pressure on Somali leaders to complete the Roadmap by August. The Conference participants, including the United States, concluded that the August deadline is firm: There must be no extension of the Transitional Federal Government’s mandate beyond August 20. The Roadmap signatories must fulfill their commitments and complete the difficult work ahead to bring stability to Somalia for the first time in many of its people’s lives. The critical next steps are to complete the drafting of the new constitution and to establish the constituent assembly. Fundamental to this effort will be developing a public-information and outreach process to win popular consent for the ongoing process. The United States will support sanctioning of political spoilers and other individuals who threaten the peace, stability, and security of Somalia.
Second, for political progress to continue, we must redouble our efforts to disrupt terrorism. Despite the military successes of AMISOM, al Shabaab remains dangerous. It continues to destroy the lives of innocent Somalis. We welcome the Council’s decision, as requested by the TFG, to further degrade al-Shabaab by imposing an international ban on imports and exports of charcoal from Somalia. This decision targets a primary revenue stream for al Shabaab. But sanctions only work when they are implemented. We urge all member states to take immediate steps to comply with the obligation contained in resolution 2036 to ban the trade of Somali charcoal, particularly those most active in such trade.
We must also stop the movement of terrorists to and from Somalia, further disrupt the flow of their finances, and develop capacity to conduct criminal investigations and prosecutions as well as operate secure detention facilities. The Security Council should continue advancing international cooperation to produce concrete results in these areas.
We also ask all member states to build the capacity of the Somali security sector to pave the way for Somalis to take charge of their own security. We urge new donors to assist the Somali National Security Forces by providing training, equipment, salaries, infrastructure, and logistical support. The United States has obligated over $106 million to support this effort, and we ask others to do their part.
Third, to maximize the pressure on al Shabaab, we must implement fully and swiftly the expansion mandated in UN Security Council 2036. The sacrifices made by AMISOM and the Somali National Security Forces testify to their dedication to bringing peace and stability to Somalia. We call on additional troop contributors to respond quickly to enable AMISOM to be fully staffed. We also urge member states to increase their voluntary support for AMISOM troop-contributing countries, particularly in the form of equipment and funding for the UN Trust Fund for AMISOM. The United States has a long and strong tradition of support for this. Now support for AMISOM must become a truly international effort. Maritime assets will be critical to AMISOM’s mission, and we hope that providing sustainable and reliable funding for the maritime component will be addressed in the coming months.
As we continue to reinforce AMISOM’s capacity to root out al Shabaab and establish conditions for effective and legitimate governance, we must also ensure timely and visible benefits accrue to ordinary Somalis in recently liberated areas – improved security but also access to food, water, healthcare and livelihoods. Stabilization programming in these areas must be expanded swiftly to cement military gains and to lay a foundation for long-term reconstruction and economic development.
Fourth, as we continue to press for political progress and diminish the threat of terrorism, we must sustain our humanitarian response to Somalia. All parties to the conflict must allow unrestricted humanitarian access. The United States is deeply concerned about displaced people pouring into Mogadishu. There is a widespread housing shortage, a lack of clean water and sanitation, and a serious threat of disease. We remain particularly concerned about the plight of Somali women and children, many of whom are vulnerable to increased levels of sexual and gender-based violence.
We urge the international community to continue to provide life-saving assistance to these populations and others in need in Somalia and its neighbors. Secretary of State Clinton announced at the London Conference that the United States will increase our humanitarian assistance to the Horn of Africa by $64 million, bringing our total emergency assistance to the region since 2011 up to more than $934 million. That amount includes more than $211 million for life-saving programs in Somalia. We urge all member states to strongly support the $1.5 billion UN Consolidated Appeal for Somalia, which is currently funded at only $165 million or 11 percent.
Mr. President, let me reiterate our strong support for AMISOM and our continued commitment to work with the international community in seeking solutions to the challenges faced by the people of Somalia, who have suffered for too long. In this six-month period we have a unique opportunity, and we must do everything we can to seize it.
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