Thank you, Mr. President. Let me begin by thanking Special Representative Ould-Abdallah for his informative briefing. And let me also welcome Somali Deputy Prime Minister Ibrahim and Environment Minister Hamza to the Security Council, and commend them for their dedication to the people of Somalia. I’d also like to welcome to the Council African Union Commissioner for Peace and Security Lamamra and express our appreciation for the African Unions’ work in Somalia.
Mr. President, the United States continues to watch the situation in Somalia with deep concern. Somalia’s stability depends on effective governance based on a process of inclusive political dialogue. As such, we underscore our support for the Djibouti Peace Process.
The United States applauds the Transitional Federal Government for its recent efforts to build political support and cultivate stability, and we encourage the Transitional Federal Government to redouble these efforts. The Djibouti Peace Process should remain the primary focus. We urge all groups interested in peace to come to the table. The agreement with Ahlu Sunnah Wal Jama’a is an important step toward this goal. We welcome similar continued efforts to expand the Transitional Federal Government’s message of stability, responsibility, and inclusiveness. We also welcome the recent Memorandum of Understanding signed with the Puntland Administration on counter-piracy cooperation. We are similarly encouraged by the Transitional Federal Government’s progress in drafting a new constitution and its efforts to open new schools, improve hospitals, and renovate police stations.
The Transitional Federal Government must strive to make even more progress on both its federal and transitional agendas—by providing basic social services, working to build an integrated security force, extending a consultative constitutional process, building alliances, and providing political support to regions. We hope it will also focus on other important goals, such as expanding revenue collection, ensuring that salaries are paid to its security forces, and providing young people with employment opportunities that offer viable alternatives to extremism and militancy. The United States supports the upcoming UN Development Conference on Somalia, to be held in Istanbul in May with participation from the Somali Diaspora. We hope that this conference will lead to concrete investments in infrastructure and other projects that will provide Somali-led employment and training options for the Somali people.
Mr. President, with greater security, the Transitional Federal Government could make even greater gains. Spoilers continue to destabilize Somalia and risk its future. Recently the Somalia Sanctions Committee listed several of these spoilers for targeted sanctions, including al-Shabaab and some of its leaders. We urge all member states to effectively implement the asset freeze, the travel ban, and the targeted arms embargo against the listed individuals and al-Shabaab. We also urge all member states to ensure that the territorial arms embargo is being fully implemented.
Supporting AMISOM is central to our strategy to stabilize Mogadishu and support the Somali peace process. AMISOM protects key installations in Mogadishu, offers political space for a Somali-led reconciliation process, and provides security so that humanitarian assistance can be delivered.
We commend Uganda and Burundi for their generous troop contributions to AMISOM, including the recent addition of a fourth Ugandan battalion, which now has a force of 6,200—close to its mandated strength of 8,000. We encourage other nations to step forward with additional contributions. The United States strongly supports AMISOM through funding for a logistical support package. Since AMISOM first deployed in 2007, the United States has obligated $174 million for logistics support, equipment, and pre-deployment training to its forces. Both the Transitional Federal Government’s security forces and AMISOM have urgent equipment and training requirements that require donor support. The international community can express its gratitude to the troop-contributing countries by fulfilling the commitments made at the Brussels donors’ conference, including pledges to build the National Security Force, the Somalia Police Force, and the National Security Committee. The United States is prepared to do its part by providing pre-deployment training and equipment to willing AMISOM troop-contributing countries. The United States also continues to support the development of a professional, effective National Security Force.
The international community must look for ways to safely make a greater impact within Somalia. We support the plans of the UN Political Office in Somalia to move toward a larger footprint in Somalia, which we believe will help the Transitional Federal Government make further progress.
Mr. President, reports about the more frequent recruitment and use of children as soldiers in Somalia are appalling and a cause for great concern. The United States strongly condemns the exploitation of children by these groups to pursue violent agendas, and we call upon all parties to immediately release the children within their ranks and provide for their proper reintegration into civilian life.
Basic civil liberties, such as freedom of speech, must be respected. The recent murder of Sheik Nur Mohamed Abkey—a 30-year veteran journalist killed in Somalia last month—is a tragic affront. The United States condemns this crime in the strongest terms. We also condemn al-Shabaab’s recent moves to restrict freedom of speech by ordering radio stations to stop broadcasting news and music. These moves demonstrate the increasing isolation of Somalia’s spoilers, who know that transparent political dialogue on the airwaves could eliminate their already meager support.
Mr. President, Somalia continues to face a dire humanitarian situation. More than 3.2 million people need both food and non-food assistance. Several factors—consecutive seasons of failed or poor rainfall, ongoing conflict, rising inflation, displacement, and outbreaks of disease—have combined to severely worsen food insecurity and drive up rates of acute malnutrition. Lack of security and stability further worsen the humanitarian situation.
The United States is committed to meeting the Somali people’s humanitarian needs. We condemn the obstruction of aid to more than one million Somalis by al-Shabaab and other violent extremists. The deteriorating security situation in South-Central Somalia has steadily eroded in areas in which humanitarian groups can operate. Targeted attacks on aid workers and UN officials, as well as kidnappings, and extortion have hampered attempts to provide lifesaving humanitarian aid. We call upon all parties to ensure the unhindered delivery of humanitarian assistance. For our part, the United States has provided more than $150 million in food and non-food emergency assistance in 2009 to help meet the health, nutrition, protection, water, sanitation, and hygiene needs of the Somali population.
Mr. President, the United States is committed to seeing peace and stability take hold in Somalia—for the Somali people, the region, and the world. We encourage the Transitional Federal Government to keep up its momentum, and to continue to chart a steady course toward the peaceful and prosperous future that Somalia deserves.
Thank you, Mr. President.
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