FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Thank you, Mr. President. I too, would like to welcome Foreign Minister Omaar to the Council and thank him for his comments. My government congratulates you, Mr. Minister and other members of the unity government and assures you of our cooperation and support.
I would also like to welcome Special Representative Ould-Abdallah and thank him for his briefing today.
Mr. President, recent events present an opportunity to make real progress in Somalia. We welcome the election of President Sharif and the unity government’s move to Mogadishu. We must support the Somali people so that they can take advantage of this opening.
We remain encouraged by the political progress made under the Djibouti Agreement. My government strongly supports President Sharif’s efforts to encourage parties that are still outside the Djibouti Process to join him to rebuild their troubled country.
In this spirit, we urge all groups that have yet to lay down their arms and join the peace and reconciliation process to do so. Unfortunately, the terrorist organization al-Shabaab has failed to join this process, vowing instead not only to target the new government but also to continue its campaign against AMISOM and humanitarian NGOs. At the same time, Eritrea continues to provide financial, logistical, and political backing to al-Shabaab and other extremists and has issued a formal statement rejecting the new Somali government. We condemn these actions by al-Shabaab and Eritrea: they serve only to prolong the conflict in Somalia, and cannot be tolerated.
We highly commend the brave troops from Burundi and Uganda serving in AMISOM, who continue to operate under difficult conditions. They are doing crucial work in securing key infrastructure and allowing for the delivery of humanitarian aid, and they deserve our support.
The United States for its part has provided logistical assistance to AMISOM totaling over $100 million since 2007. We urge African Union member states that have pledged to provide troops to AMISOM to arrange to deploy them soon. And we strongly urge member states to support AMISOM.
Of course, Somalia must begin to provide for its own security, and we should consider ways to assist in the development of a Somali security sector.
Mr. President, this Council has made significant efforts to address the problem of piracy off the Somali coast. The United States is encouraged by the international community’s response. On any given day, ships from 15 to 20 different countries are now patrolling these waters.
My government also believes that the Contact Group for Piracy off the Coast of Somalia is proving to be an effective coordinating mechanism and we look forward to the third meeting of this group.
We also commend the Government of Kenya for offering to prosecute suspected pirates captured by the international community. We urge all states, especially those directly harmed by piracy, to help the Kenyan government manage the logistical and financial challenges of prosecuting suspected pirates. This is a burden that should not fall upon the shoulders of Kenya and its neighbors alone.
Finally, let me thank the staff of the UN agencies and the aid groups that are providing needed assistance to the Somali people under very difficult and dangerous circumstances. We strongly condemn those who impede the delivery of needed assistance through attacks against aid workers and AMISOM troops.
Mr. President, progress in Somalia will not come easily. The Secretary-General’s upcoming donors’ conference presents us with an opportunity to support the Somalis during this critical period. Let’s take advantage of it.
Thank you, Mr. President.
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