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8 October 2009 - Security Council: Somalie - Statement by Mr. Gérard Araud, Permanent Representative of France to the United Nations

(translation of statement made in French)

I would like to begin by conveying my gratitude to Mr. Lynn Pascoe and Mr. Craig Boyd for their briefings. The Transitional Federal Government has held fast in the face of the attacks against it and has even retaken land, in particular in Mogadishu. It has the full support of the French authorities.

However, the situation remains very unstable. The deadly attack on 17 September against the African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM) reminded us that the insurgent forces still have strength. Moreover, the humanitarian situation continues to deteriorate, and now 3.7 million people, or half of the Somali population, depend on international humanitarian aid. At the same time, repeated attacks against the United Nations and the non-governmental organizations make humanitarian work increasingly difficult and dangerous. Nine humanitarian workers have lost their lives working alongside the Somali population in 2009. Thirteen others are being held against their will.

This difficult situation requires a renewed commitment by the international community. In his most recent report (S/2009/503), the Secretary-General recalls his incremental approach, which focuses first on support for the Transitional Federal Government and AMISOM. That strategy, which the Security Council backed in resolutions 1863 (2009) and 1872 (2009), is not in question. It is clear that neither security conditions in the field nor positions held by various stakeholders make it possible to deploy a United Nations force. But the international community must act with greater resolve within this framework.

Here, I shall touch on four issues. First, full support is urgently needed for the Transitional Federal Government. In April, during the Brussels Conference we collectively committed ourselves to provide such support. That support must be political and financial, but also operational and specific. That is why France, within the framework of resolution 1872 (2009), is training a Somali battalion in Djibouti: 150 soldiers have already been trained and have returned to Somalia, and a further 350 have just begun the training programme. On 29 September, as noted by my Austrian colleague, European Union Defence Ministers stated their interest in a European training mission to take place in a third country. France welcomes the interest recently shown by Germany and the Russian Federation with respect to initiatives of that kind.

The Republic of Djibouti, for its part, is carrying out similar training activities. Here, I play tribute to Djibouti for its endeavours with respect to Somalia. There is a need to help the Transitional Federal Government strengthen the cohesiveness, discipline and effectiveness of its forces, which, as my colleague from Burkina Faso has stressed, are facing foreign fighters who are among the most extreme. By restoring basic public services in areas where it can ensure security, the Transitional Federal Government will be able to retain positive momentum. AMISOM, to be sure, has an essential role to play in training troops in Somalia and in helping ensure that troops trained abroad get the follow-up they need and that they are used in the optimal way.

It is absolutely necessary to back the Transitional Federal Government, in spite of the risks involved. In that context, my thoughts are with the French official who was kidnapped in Mogadishu on 14 July, and who is still being held in Somalia.

Secondly, we must, in parallel, continue to support AMISOM. Like some of the colleagues who have spoken before me, I pay tribute to bravery of the troops from Burundi and Uganda, who every day carry out dangerous work in an outstanding manner. France once again extends its condolences to the Governments of Uganda and Burundi on the losses they suffered as a result of the heinous attack on 17 September against the AMISOM force headquarters.

International assistance must continue, to ensure that the African Union can achieve its objective of deploying 8,000 troops. The European Union — the largest financial partner of the African Union — is playing an active role. France has done significant work in the area of training AMISOM contingents and it evacuated to Nairobi soldiers injured in the 17 September attack. I thank Mr. Boyd and his team for having set up the logistical support package.

I wish, thirdly, to speak of the political aspect. France welcomes the untiring efforts of President Sharif in reaching out to groups not yet involved in the reconciliation process. It is important for the Somali Government to take every opportunity to continue to expand the political space in Somalia. Only a political solution will ultimately enable it to guarantee security and stability there. Here, we note with satisfaction the efforts of the Special Representative of the Secretary-General, Mr. Ould Abdallah, to develop missions to Mogadishu, carried out by the United Nations Political Office for Somalia.

With respect to those who reject all dialogue, France echoes the Secretary-General’s appeal to States, organizations and individuals in a position to do so to encourage them to join the peace process.

Finally, like most of my colleagues, I have already stressed how difficult it is to deliver international assistance to Somalia. In that context, it is important that the international community remain mobilized to combat the piracy that poses a threat to, inter alia, vessels of the World Food Programme. Naval assets have been deployed by many States and organizations, including, first and foremost, the European Union with its Operation Atalanta. In addition, as my Japanese colleague mentioned, the members of the Contact Group on Piracy off the Coast of Somalia are working to complement military action with civilian action, in order to help countries in the region bring arrested pirates to justice. France welcomes the Contact Group’s decision to ask the Secretary-General to establish a trust fund for such purposes.

In conclusion, I wish to pay tribute to the Special Representative of the Secretary-General, Mr. Ahmedou Ould Abdallah, and his team and to assure them of the full support of France.

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Organisation des Nations Unies Présidence de la République France Diplomatie La France à l'Office des Nations Unies à Genève Union Européenne Première réunion de l'ONU