Thank you, Mr. President. I’d like to begin by thanking Under Secretary-General Pascoe and Mr. Boyd for their briefings. Let me also welcome the Permanent Representative of Somalia to the Council today.
Mr. President, the United States continues to watch events in Somalia with concern. We believe that the key to long-term peace and stability lies in the establishment of effective governance, based on a process of inclusive political dialogue and reconciliation among those committed to peace.
As such, the United States applauds the Transitional Federal Government for its recent efforts, including new the Cabinet appointments that bring greater experience and expertise into key ministries.
We see the TFG’s continuing work to reach out to armed elements in order to bring them into the Djibouti Peace Process as another sign of progress. We also welcome other recent developments, including the creation of a Commission for Security and Pacification to reform the TFG’s security forces and law enforcement agencies and the designation of the Minister of Women’s Development as the TFG’s focal point for human rights.
Unfortunately, this is only part of the picture. As the Secretary-General’s report shows, Somalia still endures persistent insecurity.
The United States, along with others, condemns in the strongest terms the continuing military offensives against the TFG and the African Union Mission in Somalia, including the September 17 attacks by al-Shaabab against AMISOM headquarters that killed 21 people. We express our sincere condolences to the Ugandan and Burundian people for those who were lost, and our hopes for a full and swift recovery for those who were wounded.
Al-Shabaab and other extremist groups, fueled by outside actors, have caused numerous deaths and violated the rights of Somali citizens with impunity—including by assaulting, detaining, and illegally arresting civilians.
The issue of outside actors is a serious one. The Somalia Sanctions Committee’s Monitoring Group has reported that Eritrea has provided political, financial, and military support to armed opposition groups in Somalia. Efforts by the international community to engage the Eritrean government on its regional relations have been rebuffed. It is time for the international community to consider ways to address Eritrea’s destabilizing impact on Somalia and the region.
Mr. President, against this backdrop, support for the TFG and AMISOM should be central to our support for the Somali peace process. AMISOM has demonstrated an impressive ability to protect strategic positions under sustained attack by insurgents, and we commend its personnel for their heroism. The United States strongly supports funding a logistical support package for AMISOM, and my government will continue to provide equipment and training to AMISOM troop-contributing countries.
At the same time, we must work to improve Somalia’s domestic security sector. The Secretary-General’s report highlighted the need to harmonize the content and duration of training for TFG troops. With this in mind, we recommend greater coordination of international efforts to train and equip the TFG’s security and police forces to ensure stronger, more effective forces.
Mr. President, the devastating humanitarian situation in Somalia, caused by violence, is now worsened by the deepening drought in the country’s central and northern regions. Ongoing fighting endangers the delivery of food and other humanitarian aid to some 3.7 million Somalis in need of assistance. With dismay, we note that in July, supplies to treat and prevent malnutrition in 85,000 Somali children were delayed due to security concerns.
Aid workers have also found themselves in danger. The United States denounces the violence against humanitarian agencies and their staff. We also call for the immediate and unconditional release of those aid workers still held by armed groups in Somalia.
Piracy continues to be an obstacle to the delivery of assistance. International efforts to prosecute suspected pirates should be strengthened and broadened to ensure an environment in which aid and supplies can be transported safely.
Mr. President, the United States remains the largest bilateral donor of humanitarian assistance to Somalia, having provided more than $150 million in food and non-food emergency assistance in the past fiscal year.
We are, however, concerned about reports of diversions of humanitarian assistance by al-Shabaab— diversions that hurt the people of Somalia but strengthen al-Shabaab in its war against the TFG. We have, therefore, reviewed our emergency programs to ensure that we are doing all that we can to help the people of Somalia and have asked our implementing partners to exercise increased diligence to avoid such diversions.
The United States looks forward to continuing to work with the United Nations and all Member States to forge a stable, secure and more prosperous Somalia. Thank you, Mr. President.
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