Thank you, Mr. President. Let me also thank Special Representative Mahiga for his comprehensive and very informative briefing and for his active leadership on behalf of Somalia.
I also want to salute the Foreign Minister of Kenya and the PermRep from Somalia for their very powerful presentations, which I think, as you could see, had an impact on all of us as we listened.
The United States, Mr. President, shares the Secretary General’s view of the exceedingly dangerous situation in Somalia. Long term security and stability in Somalia depend on a stable and effective government. We continue to support the Djibouti Peace Process, and we call upon the Transitional Federal Government to focus on completion of the transitional tasks in the spirit of inclusivity envisioned in the Peace Process. We also urge the TFG to work out its differences in the interest of the people of Somalia.
Mr. President, supporting AMISOM is key both to stabilizing Mogadishu and to advancing the Somali peace process. We welcome and we commend Uganda and Burundi’s increased troop contributions to AMISOM, which now has a force of nearly 7,000. We salute their sacrifices and we thank the forces and their governments for their sustained commitment and support. We call on troop-contributing countries to increase their support to AMISOM so it can reach its mandated strength. Since AMISOM’s deployment in 2007, the United States has obligated more than $185 million to provide logistics support, equipment, and pre-deployment training to its forces. We encourage, again, other nations to step forward with additional bilateral contributions.
The United States recognizes the calls to increase AMISOM troop levels beyond the current mandated strength and the various proposals to expand UN assessed funding for AMISOM. We are currently reviewing these proposals and will give them thorough consideration. We look forward to receiving more details from the Secretariat, the AU, and AMISOM.
Mr. President, the United States condemns the increased fighting in Somalia. We also denounce several recent al-Shabaab attacks, including the August 24 attack at the Hotel Muna, the August 30 attack on the Presidential Palace in Mogadishu, and the September 9 attack on the AMISOM position at the airport, which left TFG ministers, AMISOM peacekeepers, and innocent civilians dead. Such incidents demonstrate the need for continued support to AMISOM to counter groups like al-Shabaab and others that work to destabilize the TFG and inflict further chaos on the Somali people.
We remain deeply concerned as well about piracy off the coast of Somalia. Long-term security and stability in Somalia are necessary, as has been underscored, to address the root causes of piracy, and we anticipate an active discussion of the linkages between security and development during the next meeting of the International Contact Group on Somalia later this month. At the same time, we must respond to the immediate challenges that piracy poses. The United Nations recently published a report on options for better prosecuting and imprisoning pirates. The United States remains committed to working together to address piracy off the Somali coast, including on issues of prosecution and incarceration.
Mr. President, the United States is deeply concerned as well about the victims of incidences of sexual violence in IDP camps. Deliberately targeting vulnerable populations undermines stability and exacerbates an already dire humanitarian situation.
The United States strongly condemns the use of children as well to pursue violent agendas. We call upon all parties to immediately release all children within their ranks, to halt child recruitment, and to provide for the proper reintegration into civilian life of former child soldiers. Let me say what I have said before, again: the only tolerable number of child soldiers is zero. The only tolerable amount of sexual violence is zero
Today’s briefing also underscores the extraordinary strains on the humanitarian situation in Somalia. The UN Food Security and Nutrition Analysis Unit reports that approximately two million people will need humanitarian aid between July and December of this year and that thousands continue to be uprooted and displaced every month. USAID’s Famine Early Warning Systems estimates that approximately a quarter of the Somali population remains food-insecure and malnutrition rates remain at crisis levels. Lack of security and stability continue to worsen this already troubling situation.
The United States remains deeply committed to responding to the ongoing humanitarian crisis in Somalia. We condemn al-Shabaab’s obstruction of aid delivery to more than a million Somalis. We also strongly condemn targeted attacks on humanitarian aid workers, kidnappings, and extortion by al-Shabaab and other violent extremists, which further hamper the provision of lifesaving humanitarian aid.
Mr. President, in closing, let me reiterate, the United States remains committed to seeing peace and stability take hold in Somalia—for the sake of the Somali people and the region. We continue to support the Djibouti Peace Process, Somalia’s transitional federal government and its efforts to bring security and stability to a country that has already endured far too much.
Thank you, Mr. President.
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