Thank you, Mr. President, for convening this very important open debate and for seeking to bring a comprehensive perspective to the situation in Somalia. Let me also thank the Secretary General for his informative briefing. I would also like to thank TFG Prime Minister Mohamed for his remarks and Special Representatives Mahiga and Diarra for their participation today.
Mr. President, on behalf of the United States, let me express my deepest condolences for those killed and wounded in the recent fighting in Somalia against al-Shabaab and its allies. In the current offensive, peacekeepers from the African Union Mission in Somalia and Somali National Security Forces have shown professionalism, dedication, and courage. We owe them our gratitude. I commend the resolve and commitment of the troop-contributing governments of Burundi and Uganda. The international community needs to do more to support AMISOM’s troop, equipment, and resource needs.
The situation in Somalia, as we have heard this morning, remains alarming. The Somali population face a dire humanitarian situation. We are gravely concerned about the approximately 2.4 million Somalis in urgent need of humanitarian assistance—most of them living in areas held by al-Shabaab, areas where humanitarian space is shrinking. More than a year ago, the World Food Program was forced to suspend its programs in Shabaab-held territory due to threats and demands against WFP staff, and al-Shabaab has expelled several NGOs and other United Nations agencies. The inability to deliver humanitarian assistance under deteriorating conditions has meant that significantly more Somalis are seeking refuge and aid in neighboring countries. My government commends the efforts of UNHCR, WFP, UNICEF, the ICRC, and others as they continue to provide services under difficult conditions to the internally displaced and to Somali refugees in Kenya, Djibouti, Yemen, and Ethiopia, whose governments we thank for their hospitality.
Mr. President, we are deeply concerned by the continued threats to peace and security posed by radical extremists, criminals, and other spoilers in Somalia. Instability and lack of economic opportunity continue to fuel piracy off the coast of Somalia, which threatens not only the Somali people and seafarers but the stability of the region as a whole.
Piracy off the coast of Somalia is seriously hindering the delivery of vital humanitarian aid to the region, international trade through the Indian Ocean, and the welfare of seafarers passing through the waters off the coast. Last month, as has been noted, four Americans tragically lost their lives while being held hostage by Somali pirates. The level of violence being used by pirates is escalating and their range of operations is broadening. These are troubling trends, and the international community, including this Council, must do more to address this flatly unacceptable situation by not only stepping up prevention efforts and enhancing judicial accountability but also going after those who finance, plan, and organize piracy activities. In this regard, the United States recently hosted an ad hoc meeting of interested members of the Contact Group on Piracy off the Coast of Somalia to explore more what the international community can do to go after those who unlawfully profit from these despicable activities. We strongly urge the international community to support these efforts.
The United States commends the efforts of the 20 countries, including many members of this Council, that have built a multinational naval patrol to conduct counter-piracy operations and safeguard vessels. Additionally, while we consider options to ensure that pirates face judicial consequences, we hope that the international community will continue to support and enhance prosecution-related programs already underway. We welcome the contributions made by the UN and the Contact Group. We hope that the international community, including the Security Council, will work to ensure that the various initiatives that are being proposed complement each other. As we move forward, incarceration capacity should be a key focus of both this Council and the Contact Group on Piracy off the Coast of Somalia as the Secretary General’s Special Advisor Jack Lang made clear in his comprehensive report to the Council; this will still be an issue no matter which prosecution mechanism we pursue.
The obstacles to a stable Somalia, Mr. President, cannot be underestimated. Under the dual-track approach, the United States continues to support the Djibouti Peace Process and the TFG, even as we support other local and regional entities in Somalia that seek peace, reject terrorism, and are willing to work with the TFG. We are increasingly concerned about the incessant political infighting and the lack of progress on governance reform, basic services for the Somali people, and a functional political coalition that can govern and stabilize Somalia at large.
We expect the TFG to take advantage of advances by AMISOM to make progress toward achieving its transitional tasks and expanding outreach throughout Somalia, a critical objective in our view. We also call on the TFG to immediately take steps to improve its financial institutions and procedures. We are looking for greater accounting of assistance funds provided by the international community and from revenue sources such as the Port of Mogadishu. In this regard, the United States has provided financial advisors to the Ministry of Finance to assist with revenue accountability. We call for the TFG to substantively improve its governance and security efforts—and to provide a sustained demonstration of commitment toward that end.
Finally, the United States does not support the unilateral three-year extension of the Transitional Federal Parliament. Similarly, we oppose any assertion that the current TFG should simply be extended past August 2011 absent a clear Somali roadmap for how the TFG would make the transition into a representative government within a defined timeframe. For credible progress to be made, we believe that TFG and Parliament must enter into serious discussions with regional partners, Special Representative Mahiga, and key supporters in the international community to identify a sensible, realistic way forward. I would especially like to note our appreciation for Special Representative Mahiga’s continued work and leadership in this regard. The outcome of this process must advance the goal of building a comprehensive political solution and strategy for reconciliation and lasting peace.
Thank you, Mr. President.
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