UN / With insurgents under pressure in Somalia, military strategy must be aligned with political objectives, Secretary-General tells Security Council


NEW YORK, December 14, 2011/African Press Organization (APO)/ -- Following are UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon remarks to the Security Council meeting on Somalia in New York on 13 December:

I am pleased to attend this meeting on Somalia and to have this opportunity to share with you my perspectives on the situation, based on recent developments and on my own visit to Somalia last Friday.

I travelled to the region from Durban. Since this Council discussed climate change in July, let me say very quickly that leaders in Durban showed once again that multilateral negotiations on climate change can deliver.

We agreed on a clear target and timeline for reaching a legally binding deal, a recommitment to the Kyoto Protocol, significant advances on technology and financing, including the Green Climate Fund.

Now we must implement these decisions and keep the Durban spirit of cooperation and progress alive.

Since I took office, Somalia has been a priority. A few years ago, people tended to think of Somalia only as a place of “famine” or “bloodshed”. Often, when I spoke about Somalia, people wanted to change the subject. I wanted to change the way we see Somalia. We finally face a moment of fresh opportunities. We must seize it.

That is why the President of the General Assembly and I travelled together to Mogadishu on 9 December. It was the first visit by a United Nations Secretary-General in over 18 years. And it was, of course, the first time ever in the history of the United Nations that the President of the General Assembly and the Secretary-General travelled together to Somalia.

That my visit was even possible is a sign of improved security and the investment that the United Nations has made in supporting the African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM). All city districts are now effectively under the control of the Transitional Federal Government (TFG), with the support of AMISOM. I congratulated the brave TFG and AMISOM soldiers and extended my condolences to the families of the fallen soldiers and the Governments of Somalia, Burundi and Uganda.

The AMISOM Force Commander, Major General Fred Mugisha of Uganda, explained the difficult circumstances they face and the need for adequate military assets to fight an asymmetric terrorist war. In an urban environment, we must secure gains and extend them beyond Mogadishu. That requires AMISOM to deploy at its full strength of 12,000 troops. It also demands the necessary force enablers, including air assets like helicopters, and military engineering capabilities.

During my visit, I announced that the United Nations Political Office for Somalia (UNPOS) will relocate to Mogadishu in January next year. That will begin with my Special Representative, [Augustine] Mahiga, and his core team and expand gradually as more resources become available. I have also asked the United Nations country team to work more closely with UNPOS to support the Transitional Federal Government's efforts in governance, recovery, development and capacity-building.

For all of this to be possible, we must expedite arrangements for protecting United Nations and AMISOM civilian personnel. I also renew my appeal for supporting the United Nations Recovery and Stabilization Plan.

In Mogadishu, we were welcomed by President Sheikh Sharif Sheikh Ahmed, Prime Minister Abdiweli Mohamed Ali, Speaker Sharif Hassan Sheikh Aden and other leaders. They thanked the United Nations and urged continued assistance. The leadership has heeded the Security Council's call to work together.

Nonetheless, despite some progress, important deadlines have been missed. I asked the leadership to intensify efforts to implement the road map. I made clear that the transition must end in August 2012. In particular, I urged them to accelerate constitutional and parliamentary reforms, which do not require financial resources, but political will.

I echoed the Council's call that continued international assistance rests on continued reform. I encouraged them to build trust by ensuring accountability and transparency. I warmly welcomed the active engagement of civil society and the Somali diaspora.

President Sharif assured me of his Government's commitment to a broadly inclusive implementation of the road map. He cited the upcoming meeting on the constitution-making process as an important step.

Beyond Mogadishu, the Islamist insurgents in Somalia are retreating under mounting pressure from the Government forces and their militia allies, backed by Kenyan and Ethiopian forces. This represents a unique opportunity to help stabilize the country at large.

The United Nations is helping the African Union and the Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD) to develop coherent military planning in the country. We must ensure that the military strategy is aligned with political objectives. As more territory is liberated, the Transitional Federal Government must strengthen its outreach to the local population and form new regional entities, in line with the Transitional Federal Charter.

On the military front, we must not exclude the incorporation of new forces and the expansion of AMISOM. We are undertaking a joint assessment on the ground and will revert to this Council with a proposal. In the meantime, I echo African Union and AMISOM troop contributors and ask you to reconsider the financial and logistical arrangements for supporting AMISOM operations in the next phase.

We must also boost our efforts to safeguard civilians and the safety of the relief supply route. I have urged the Government of Kenya, AMISOM and the Transitional Federal Government to uphold the rights of civilians, refugees and Somali asylum-seekers.

Prior to my visit, I met with President Mwai Kibaki of Kenya in Nairobi. I expressed my gratitude for his leadership and asked for his continued generosity and support to those fleeing Somalia.

I also visited the Dadaab refugee complex in Kenya. It now hosts almost half a million Somali refugees, including more than 190,000 people fleeing famine and insecurity in the past year. I met one family that had lost two children during their hard journey. I was deeply moved and saddened by their suffering. I assured all parties of our strong commitment to ending the transition so these refugees can return home and rebuild their lives.

Generous donor contributions and concerted relief efforts have saved hundreds of thousands of lives. Parts of southern Somalia have been lifted out of famine. However, millions are still in crisis. To add to the suffering, on 28 November, Al-Shabaab occupied the compounds of 16 organizations operating in areas under its control in south-central Somalia.

I condemn these actions and once again call on all parties to immediately allow unimpeded humanitarian access and to refrain from actions which threaten the safety of Somalis and those assisting them.

Recent developments and our work in Somalia are detailed in the report before you. I renew my thanks to my Special Representative, Mr. Mahiga, and to all our colleagues and partners who serve in such difficult and dangerous circumstances.

I look forward to attending the high-level meeting on Somalia that Prime Minister [David] Cameron of the United Kingdom intends to organize in London early next year.

This is a crucial moment for the international community. We must seize this moment for the people of Somalia and the stability of the region.