Briefing to the Security Council by SRSG Nicholas Kay

23 May 2014

Briefing to the Security Council by SRSG Nicholas Kay


Mr President,

Members of the Security Council,

Thank you for this opportunity to brief the Council and for your continued and united support for Somalia. The United Nations Assistance Mission in Somalia (UNSOM) completes its first year of work on the 3rd of June.

A year ago, the Federal Government of Somalia asked the United Nations for “one door to knock on” to help coordinate international assistance as the country emerged from decades of conflict.

In response, UNSOM has established an integrated UN presence across Somalia. Despite significant security challenges, I am proud that today the UN family has a larger presence on the ground in Somalia than at any time in the last eighteen years. The UN’s commitment to live and work alongside Somalis is strong. Our plans are for even greater expansion.

Our work depends on having strong partnerships with the Federal Government, the African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM), the Inter-Governmental Authority on Development (IGAD), the European Union (EU) and Somalia’s neighbouring countries and key partners. Our partnership with AMISOM is extremely strong. With both leadership teams firmly based in Mogadishu, we are working increasingly jointly on delivering our mandates.

Mr President

I am pleased to report that – despite set-backs and disappointments – Somalia has made political, economic and security progress in the last twelve months and in particular in the last quarter.

Politically, the Federal Government has started to address some of the outstanding disputes between the centre and the regions. They have engaged actively with the Interim Jubba Administration in the south and decided to support a three region solution for statebuilding in southwest Somalia. To the north relations between Mogadishu and Puntland are strengthening once more. Somalia’s leaders are travelling and engaging in the regions: an encouraging development that needs to be strengthened. But I am concerned by the current political turmoil in Mogadishu, which I will address when I turn to the challenges ahead.

Economically, the country has continued to show signs of growth – albeit from a distressingly low base. The Federal Government has also taken steps to re-establish donor confidence. A new Financial Governance Committee has been established, composed of Federal Government, World Bank, IMF and other representatives.

There have also been security successes in the last few months. We discussed the AMISOM/SNA offensive, in our interactive dialogue with AMISOM in April in New York. My friend and colleague Ambassador Annadif will brief more on this. I pay tribute to those Somali and African Union colleagues who have lost their lives in the last year bringing peace to Somalia.

There have also been recent improvements in security in Mogadishu. A new Government strategy and closer joint work with AMISOM is beginning to show positive results on the ground although it is too early – and too rash - to say that we have seen the end of terrorism. Somali civilians are the ones who make up the vast majority of the victims, but the UN is not immune. The deployment of the UN Guard Unit, which was officially inaugurated on the 18th of May, will help us to stay and deliver.

Mr President

Recognising political, economic and security progress should not – and does not – blind us to the significant shortcomings and challenges that remain.

Under the leadership of President Hassan Sheikh Mohamoud, the new Government of Prime Minister Abdiweli Sheikh Ahmed has injected fresh momentum.

But progress on state-building has not been as fast as needed.

When I last briefed you in March, I told you that the Federal Government was close to finalising a detailed blueprint for building a Federal Somalia, revising and implementing the constitution, and preparing for elections in 2016. Unfortunately this critical plan, with timelines and benchmarks, remains pending.

As a first priority, the formation of inclusive interim regional administrations, the first step in the formation of federal member states, needs to be finalised this year.

Progress made with the implementation of the Addis Ababa Agreement, which created the Interim Jubba Administration (IJA), also needs to be accelerated and we welcome the vital role IGAD is playing in this.

Police, judiciary and corrections are essential to building sustainable stability and peace as is the rehabilitation and reintegration of disengaged combatants, including tailored programs for children. We must also ensure that those accused and convicted of crimes related to Al-Shabaab have access to programmes to curb extremist ideology and behaviour.

The incidence of gender-based violence in Somalia remains unacceptably high. The UN’s ‘Team of Experts’ on sexual violence visited Somalia in December last year. We are striving to implement their important recommendations with the Government, AMISOM and other international partners. UNSOM has also been working closely with the Federal Government and AMISOM to provide training on human rights, international humanitarian law and refugee law and including child protection. The National Human Rights Commission has not yet been established.

Mr President

I have travelled a lot in Somalia in the past year and I have listened closely to the concerns and hopes of the Somali people. One message I have heard loud and clear is that they want to see a stable and united country. They also want to see progress by the Federal Government and its international partners to move much further and faster.

2014 is critical for Somalia. Time is short. I remain a firm optimist, but it is clear that the Government and its international partners must make faster progress.

Mr President

I fear that Somalia is approaching a critical phase in a number of areas. Politically, there needs to be urgent progress in establishing the mechanisms to revise and implement the Constitution, oversee the establishment of Federal States and prepare for elections. I am concerned that the current political crisis in Mogadishu, which includes a call by over a hundred Members of Parliament for the President to resign, could herald a return to the cycle of deadlock and infighting between Somalia’s political institutions that has paralysed governments since 2000. Somalia needs continuity and stability in its political leadership. The expectations of the Somali people are high and patience is a virtue in short supply. I have worked and will continue to work with international partners and with the President, Prime Minister and Speaker. They are united in their search for solutions. Somalia cannot afford further delays in its state-building process. Its institutions should work together within the distinct roles and responsibilities set out for them in the Constitution to deliver what the people need and expect.

There must also be urgent progress on security and stabilisation in the newly recovered areas. Locally acceptable administrations need to be established and local people must see peace dividends soon. Access to these areas, currently obstructed by ongoing Al Shabaab activity, also needs to be secured urgently. The UN Peace Building Fund has allocated up to $10 million to support the Government’s efforts to deliver tangible peace dividends to communities in these areas and other parts of south-central. The lack of military helicopters for AMISOM is a critical obstacle. And also, without further contributions to the Somali National Army Trust Fund, vital logistical support will be impossible. Building a sustainable, professional and truly national Somali army is a strategic priority. To date, despite considerable efforts by international partners, progress is still fragmentary and insufficient. Without action on these issues there is a danger that military success will not be consolidated and insecurity will return.

Without more economic progress and development the credibility of the international community and Federal Government is also in danger. The Somali people must see greater benefits from the Somali Compact. The UN Multi-Partner Trust Fund (MPTF) is now operational and a “national stream” has been established to allow for a gradual increase in direct support to the Treasury. More money needs to go into, and come out from this and the other international funding mechanisms established to support Somalia’s development.

Mr President

The humanitarian situation risks slipping into the danger zone as well. My Deputy and Humanitarian Coordinator, has recently flagged the troubling similarities between the situation today and that before the 2011 famine. There is a real danger of a worsening of the existing crisis as a result of ongoing conflict, poor rains, and lack of sustained access to towns due to Al Shabaab tactics of blocking main supply routes. The funding crisis affecting existing humanitarian operations is further exacerbating the situation. So far, this year, the Consolidated Appeal (CAP) has received only 19 per cent of the $933 million requested (leaving a gap of $756 million) to meet the needs of almost three million people. The funding situation is so bad that aid agencies are looking at closing down lifesaving programmes. For example, UNICEF primary healthcare services for 3 million people are on the verge of being cut. $60 million is needed immediately to maintain current life-saving operations in just the next 2-3 months. While we do not know which way the food security situation will go, this is no time for ‘business as usual’ in Somalia. If Somalia’s humanitarian situation is allowed to slip back into emergency, it will jeopardise the political, economic and development gains that have been achieved.

Mr President

The period between now and my next briefing to you will be a testing time for Somalia. I remain confident that its leaders and institutions will rise to the challenge and international partners will continue and enhance their support in equal measure. But we should not ignore the dangers.

I am proud of the collective efforts being made by Somalia’s friends in IGAD, the African Union, European Union, the League of Arab States and the UN. They all do so at some personal risk. I pay tribute to those who have lost their lives in this endeavour, as we saw again when two UN Office on Drugs and Crime colleagues were tragically killed in April. Building peace comes at a price, but as we all recognise failure is a cost we cannot afford. I thank the Council for its unwavering support and for its decision to visit Somalia later this year.

Thank you.