"We believe that over the last four years, our policies in Somalia and in the region have made a significant difference in strengthening stability in Mogadishu and in helping to get rid of the key members of the East Africa al-Qaida cell as well as breaking the back of al-Shabaab. We have done this largely with and through and alongside of our African partners in AMISOM. This has been a major, major success."
Johnnie Carson, Assistant Secretary of State for African Affairs
January 16, 2012 (Full Text)
The assistant secretary for African affairs says the United States backs the appointment of a special envoy for Mali and the United Nations work in Somalia, Sudan, South Sudan and the eastern Congo. What are the priorities in Africa as you see them? More
More than 42 million people around the world have been forcibly displaced from their homes and communities. More than a million fled their countries in the last eighteen months alone due to a wave of conflicts, in Côte d’Ivoire, Libya, Mali, Somalia, Sudan and Syria. These numbers represent far more than statistics; they are individuals and families whose lives have been upended, whose communities have been destroyed, and whose future remains uncertain.
World Refugee Day is a moment to remember all those affected, and a time to intensify our support."
Thank you, Mr. President, thank you, Special Representative Mahiga, for your briefing, and welcome, President Sharif.
Somalia stands at a critical moment in its history. One year ago, al-Shabaab controlled and terrorized large swaths of Somalia, millions were at risk of starvation, and the country’s leaders focused more on feuding amongst themselves than working to improve the condition of the Somali people. One year ago, in Nairobi, this Council delivered a blunt message to the TFG that it risked losing international support, if it did not get its act together and resolve its differences.
Today, Somalia is in a different and better place. But significant challenges lie ahead. The mandate of the Transitional Federal Government (TFG) comes to an end in August 2012. Any delay or backsliding in implementing the transition is totally unacceptable. Somalia and the wider region cannot afford to revert to the endless cycles of violence and suffering that have plagued the country and threatened the region for decades.
There are, encouragingly, signs of promise for the country and its people. For the first time in a generation, Somalia has a solid plan for creating a functional state, and the conditions for its implementation continue to ripen. In the last few months, the TFG as well as other Roadmap signatories and the international community have taken important steps to implement the Roadmap to End the Transition, as defined by the Garowe Principles. A draft constitution has been circulated to the Roadmap signatories. Elders have been selected to appoint delegates to the Constituent Assembly and are meeting now to do so.
The security situation across the country has also improved. Areas on the outskirts of Mogadishu and the key cities of Beledweyne, Baidoa, and Huddur in southwestern Somalia have recently been liberated from al-Shabaab. The United States commends AMISOM and the Somali National Security forces for their significant military achievements and security gains. The sacrifices made by AMISOM and Somali troops are testament to their will and dedication to bring peace and stability to Somalia. Reflecting the improved security situation, the UN Political Office for Somalia has returned to Mogadishu. And though the humanitarian situation remains extremely fragile, thanks to the actions of UN humanitarian agencies and NGOs and the generosity of the international community, the famine has substantially abated.
The unanimous adoption of UN Security Council Resolution 2036 on February 22 this year, followed by the London Conference on Somalia, demonstrated the strong and unified commitment of the international community to Somalia’s future. The United States welcomes the upcoming Second Istanbul Conference on Somalia, which should push the political transition process further towards completion.
While Somalis, with international support, have made progress, we cannot afford to lose momentum. Critical and difficult work remains and the Somali people will hold the TFG, Roadmap signatories, and other stakeholders accountable for meeting the transition timetable. As the London Conference declared in February, the Kampala Accord deadline is firm: there must be no extension of the TFG’s mandate beyond August 20. The Constituent Assembly should convene to consider and adopt the interim constitution, setting the stage for other important steps, including the appointment of a new, smaller parliament and indirect elections of a speaker and president. Informing Somalis about the draft constitution and the Roadmap implementation process is fundamental to their ultimate success. But, as the Secretary General observes in his report, approval of the interim constitution by the Constituent Assembly will be the beginning, not the end, of the process.
Having noted some of the important progress achieved since this Council visited the region, let me now turn to the significant challenges ahead for Somalia. As we were tragically reminded only two weeks ago by the suicide attack against a parliamentary delegation in Dhusamareb and last month by the suicide bombing at the National Theater, al-Shabaab remains a major threat to the stability of Somalia. Its shocking and ruthless attacks on innocent civilians and its ongoing ban on 17 humanitarian organizations demonstrate its total disregard for the Somali people and disregard for human life. The United States condemns all al-Shabaab terrorist attacks that kill government officials and innocent civilians alike.
Because al-Shabaab will continue to perpetrate terrorism and exploit any opening to sow instability and derail progress in Somalia, expanding security and preventing al-Shabaab from regaining a foothold in stabilized areas is paramount. This requires AMISOM to be fully staffed so that it can fulfil its mandate. The African Union and additional troop contributors should quickly reach agreement on AMISOM’s Concept of Operations. Failure to do so will not only reflect negatively on AMISOM and the African Union, but worse, undermine the security of the Somali people. Moreover, Somali National Security Forces will figure prominently in expanded AMISOM operations, but are hampered by supply shortages and gaps in logistics capacity. Since 2007, the United States has contributed over $106 million to strengthen the Somali security sector. We urge all member states, especially new donors, to help the Somali people take the lead in providing for their own security and to coordinate bilateral support through the TFG-UN-AU co-chaired Joint Security Committee.
Continuing to pressure al-Shabaab and strengthening national and international security forces is necessary but not sufficient for lasting stability in Somalia. Criminal activity that finances terrorism, undermines domestic governance, and distorts the local economy must be addressed as well. In this regard, the United States strongly supports the Contact Group on Piracy off the Coast of Somalia and will continue working with international partners and Somali leaders to end to the scourge of piracy. Similarly, kidnapping for ransom imperils Somalia’s progress and poses an increasing threat to all nations and their citizens. We must work together to strengthen law enforcement and other capacities to prevent hostage-takings and ensure that hostage takers cannot obtain ransoms.
Finally, although the United Nations declared the end of the famine in Somalia in February, the humanitarian situation in southern and central Somalia remains precarious. More than 2.5 million Somalis still need emergency assistance. There are over 980,000 Somali refugees, some of whom have lived in exile for over 20 years. We commend Kenya, Ethiopia, Djibouti, Yemen, and other countries in the region for hosting Somali refugees. Since 2011, the United States has committed $1.1 billion to the humanitarian emergency in the Horn of Africa, including more than $260 million expressly for Somalia. The international community must do more to provide immediate life-saving assistance, address the long-term needs of refugees, internally displaced persons, and others affected by drought and conflict, and to build capacity in the region to mitigate the impact of future shocks that we know will come. Millions of lives are at stake.
Mr. President, I want to reiterate our strong support for AMISOM and commitment to work with the international community to help Somalia face these challenges and realize a brighter future. International support, however, cannot be taken for granted. During the next four months, we have a unique opportunity to ensure that Somalia concludes its transition on time, but the onus remains on Somalia’s leaders to seize this moment and establish a strong foundation for peace and stability. The people of Somalia, who have suffered too long, deserve nothing less.
Thank you, Mr. President.
"From the beginning, the United States has adopted a multilateral approach focused on addressing this issue as a shared challenge. Piracy affects the international community as a whole and can only be effectively addressed through broad, coordinated, and comprehensive international efforts. In January 2009, the United States helped establish the Contact Group on Piracy off the Coast of Somalia to both prompt action and coordinate the efforts to suppress Somali piracy. The Contact Group is based on a voluntary membership and was established concurrent with the UN Security Council’s passage of Resolution 1851. It now includes over 70 nations as well as international and maritime industry organizations, to help coordinate national and international counter-piracy policies and actions."
Thank you, Mr. President, and welcome, Mr. Minister. We extend our congratulations to the United Kingdom for assuming the Council’s presidency and thank the delegation of Togo for its leadership of the Council last month. We thank the Secretary-General for his statement this morning, and thank you, Special Representative Mahiga, for your briefing.
Mr. President, Somalia stands at a critical moment. The international community has an important but limited window of opportunity. AMISOM and Somali forces have driven al Shabaab out of Mogadishu and other areas. The mandate of the Transitional Federal Government — the TFG — comes to an end in August 2012, and Somalia now has a blueprint for a state after twenty years without a functional government. At the same time, Somalia is emerging from the worst humanitarian crisis in the world.
The TFG and the international community have already taken important steps. The unanimous adoption of Security Council resolution 2036 on February 22, immediately followed by the London Conference on Somalia, show the international community is united in its commitment to Somalia’s future. I would like to thank the United Kingdom for hosting this important conference, and commend members of the Council for giving unanimous support to AMISOM’s expansion. AMISOM troop levels are now increasing and its funding needs have been established. The “Garowe II” constitutional conference has shown the way to more inclusive governance, with clear benchmarks, and UNPOS is established in Mogadishu.
We have accomplished much, but this is no time to lose momentum. A number of critical tasks lie ahead before the Roadmap’s August deadline. We have six months, and we need to use them wisely.
First, the most important achievement of the London Conference was to galvanize high-level and public international support to continue to keep pressure on Somali leaders to complete the Roadmap by August. The Conference participants, including the United States, concluded that the August deadline is firm: There must be no extension of the Transitional Federal Government’s mandate beyond August 20. The Roadmap signatories must fulfill their commitments and complete the difficult work ahead to bring stability to Somalia for the first time in many of its people’s lives. The critical next steps are to complete the drafting of the new constitution and to establish the constituent assembly. Fundamental to this effort will be developing a public-information and outreach process to win popular consent for the ongoing process. The United States will support sanctioning of political spoilers and other individuals who threaten the peace, stability, and security of Somalia.
Second, for political progress to continue, we must redouble our efforts to disrupt terrorism. Despite the military successes of AMISOM, al Shabaab remains dangerous. It continues to destroy the lives of innocent Somalis. We welcome the Council’s decision, as requested by the TFG, to further degrade al-Shabaab by imposing an international ban on imports and exports of charcoal from Somalia. This decision targets a primary revenue stream for al Shabaab. But sanctions only work when they are implemented. We urge all member states to take immediate steps to comply with the obligation contained in resolution 2036 to ban the trade of Somali charcoal, particularly those most active in such trade.
We must also stop the movement of terrorists to and from Somalia, further disrupt the flow of their finances, and develop capacity to conduct criminal investigations and prosecutions as well as operate secure detention facilities. The Security Council should continue advancing international cooperation to produce concrete results in these areas.
We also ask all member states to build the capacity of the Somali security sector to pave the way for Somalis to take charge of their own security. We urge new donors to assist the Somali National Security Forces by providing training, equipment, salaries, infrastructure, and logistical support. The United States has obligated over $106 million to support this effort, and we ask others to do their part.
Third, to maximize the pressure on al Shabaab, we must implement fully and swiftly the expansion mandated in UN Security Council 2036. The sacrifices made by AMISOM and the Somali National Security Forces testify to their dedication to bringing peace and stability to Somalia. We call on additional troop contributors to respond quickly to enable AMISOM to be fully staffed. We also urge member states to increase their voluntary support for AMISOM troop-contributing countries, particularly in the form of equipment and funding for the UN Trust Fund for AMISOM. The United States has a long and strong tradition of support for this. Now support for AMISOM must become a truly international effort. Maritime assets will be critical to AMISOM’s mission, and we hope that providing sustainable and reliable funding for the maritime component will be addressed in the coming months.
As we continue to reinforce AMISOM’s capacity to root out al Shabaab and establish conditions for effective and legitimate governance, we must also ensure timely and visible benefits accrue to ordinary Somalis in recently liberated areas – improved security but also access to food, water, healthcare and livelihoods. Stabilization programming in these areas must be expanded swiftly to cement military gains and to lay a foundation for long-term reconstruction and economic development.
Fourth, as we continue to press for political progress and diminish the threat of terrorism, we must sustain our humanitarian response to Somalia. All parties to the conflict must allow unrestricted humanitarian access. The United States is deeply concerned about displaced people pouring into Mogadishu. There is a widespread housing shortage, a lack of clean water and sanitation, and a serious threat of disease. We remain particularly concerned about the plight of Somali women and children, many of whom are vulnerable to increased levels of sexual and gender-based violence.
We urge the international community to continue to provide life-saving assistance to these populations and others in need in Somalia and its neighbors. Secretary of State Clinton announced at the London Conference that the United States will increase our humanitarian assistance to the Horn of Africa by $64 million, bringing our total emergency assistance to the region since 2011 up to more than $934 million. That amount includes more than $211 million for life-saving programs in Somalia. We urge all member states to strongly support the $1.5 billion UN Consolidated Appeal for Somalia, which is currently funded at only $165 million or 11 percent.
Mr. President, let me reiterate our strong support for AMISOM and our continued commitment to work with the international community in seeking solutions to the challenges faced by the people of Somalia, who have suffered for too long. In this six-month period we have a unique opportunity, and we must do everything we can to seize it.
Just in time for the Holiday season, the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID), Ad Council, and MTV Act have partnered to launch a celebrity auction to raise awareness and money for the crisis in Horn of Africa.
The auction, running until December 18, features exclusive items and experiences from MTV artists and show talent. Snooki, Rob Dyrdek, Nick Jonas and Kelly Clarkson are a few of celebrities that have donated items to be auctioned off. Proceeds of the auction will go to a group of eight organizations working to provide humanitarian relief to the crisis. To view the auction visit: http://is.gd/mtvactauction.
Today in East Africa, in a region known as the Horn, more than 13.3 million people are in crisis - that’s more than the populations of New York City and Los Angeles combined. The worst drought the world has seen in 60 years is devastating farmlands, uprooting families and killing tens of thousands in four countries: Kenya, Ethiopia, Djibouti and Somalia.
The auction is part of USAID and Ad Council’s Famine. War. Drought (FWD) Campaign. Launched on September 19th, the FWD campaign aims to raise awareness of the crisis in the Horn of Africa and link Americans to actions that can help those in need. To learn more about the crisis in the Horn of Africa, visit www.usaid.gov/FWD.