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WATCH: US and UK brief Security Council on Somalia's fight against security threats, and humanitarian crisis

Wednesday February 22, 2023


Mogadishu (HOL) - Senior officials emphasized the pressing challenges facing Somalia, including political instability, security concerns, and a humanitarian crisis, in a Wednesday briefing to the United Nations Security Council. The United States, United Kingdom, and UN officials stressed the importance of supporting stabilization initiatives and the need for political progress, while urging donors to support the humanitarian crisis affecting nearly half of Somalia's population.

US Representative to the United Nations, Ambassador Linda Thomas-Greenfield, praised Somalia's security forces and citizens for liberating over 70 towns in Hirshabelle and Galmudug from the control of al-Shabaab. She called on other international partners to support this effort.

"Unfortunately, lives were lost in the process. We mourn the Somali people killed in the struggle to free their country from terrorism, like Deputy Commander of the Danab Major Hassan Tuure. His sacrifice, and that of others like him, reinforces the US commitment to support Somali-led efforts to defeat al-Shabaab and provide security to the people of Somalia."

"Delivering timely and balanced stabilization interventions to newly liberated territory is imperative to bring security and relief to the Somali people in these areas," Thomas-Greenfield added.

The ambassador said the US supports Somalia's plans for the ATMIS drawdown.

"We still support the federal government's stated goal of ending ATMIS by the end of 2024. We expect drawdown plans to be coordinated with Somali officials, in line with Somali-defined security priorities on the ground. But ATMIS has played a key role in the ongoing Somali-led operations against al-Shabaab. So, in the meantime, we urge ATMIS to continue to provide the necessary support in close collaboration with our Somali partners."

However, she expressed concern about the ongoing violence in Laascaanood and called for an immediate de-escalation of violence, the protection of civilians, unimpeded humanitarian access, and the peaceful resolution of tensions through dialogue.

The United Kingdom's Permanent Representative to the United Nations, Ambassador Barbara Woodward, began her statement to the Council by addressing conflict in Las Anod.

"Firstly, the United Kingdom is deeply concerned about the developments in Las Anod. Alongside partners, we have supported ceasefire negotiations between the parties and issued statements calling for restraint on all sides, dialogue, the protection of civilians, and unfettered humanitarian access. We encourage all Council members to do likewise."

"The problems in Las Anod are a reminder that we need to support Somalia to make progress on fundamental questions of power and resource sharing, including finalizing the constitution. These are vital building blocks for long-term state-building and security."

She also highlighted the importance of including women in future political processes, ensuring their full, equal, and meaningful participation.

"Women and girls comprise 80% of those displaced by drought and displaced populations and are especially vulnerable to sexual violence. The UK's joint program with UNFPA responds to incidents of gender-based violence among newly displaced populations, reaching up to 34,800 women."

Deputy Special Representative of the Secretary-General Anita Kiki Gbeho told the Security Council that Somalia has made progress in advancing its key national priorities despite its many challenges.

However, she also noted that Al-Shabaab continues to pose a serious threat to Somalia's peace and security. There was a 60% increase in civilian casualties in 2022 compared to 2021, marking the deadliest year for civilians since 2016.

Gbeho commended Somalia's progress in battling Al-Shabaab through its multi-pronged approach and remains optimistic that more regions in Somalia will fall under government control.

"Consolidating gains in the newly recovered areas will require strong linkages between military operations and stabilization initiatives, comprised of reconciliation and justice components and aimed at bolstering good governance and service delivery," said Gbeho.

In addition to the continued cooperation with the Federal Member States, the Federal Government of Somalia has regained momentum in the fight against al-Shabaab and is on track to complete the debt relief process by 2024. 

The National Consultative Council has played an important role in prioritizing Federal Government and federal member states relations and advancing state-building priorities, she said. 

She told the Council that a federated model for the allocation of powers and justice had been agreed upon by Federal Government and Federal Member State leaders, paving the way for the completion of the constitutional review, with the exception of Puntland, which requested additional time to consider its position on these matters. 

The Deputy Special Representative encouraged the Federal Government and the Federal Member States to continue dialogue within the NCC framework toward consensus on Somalia's state-building agenda.

All three officials expressed concerns about the humanitarian crisis in Somalia, particularly the potential for famine. Ambassador Thomas-Greenfield warned that famine is the ultimate failure of the international community and urged other donors to contribute to the cause. Ambassador Woodward emphasized the need for progress on fundamental power and resource-sharing questions. Meanwhile, Deputy Special Representative Gbeho urged donors to support Somalia during this challenging period.


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