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16 September 2010 - Security Council - Somalia - Statement by Mr. Martin Briens, Deputy Permanent Representative of France to the United Nations

(UN translation)

First of all, I should like to thank the Special Representative of the Secretary-General, Mr. Mahiga, for the briefing he has just given us and to hail his courage when on 9 September he was confronted with an attack on the airport in Mogadishu, where he was to meet President Sharif, accompanied by the Special Representative of the Chair of the African Union Commission and the Special Envoy of the Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD).

I would also like to thank the Minister for Foreign Affairs of Kenya and the Permanent Representative of Somalia for the candour and the clarity of their statements. I note their commitment to work for stability in Somalia.

As emphasized by the report of the Secretary- General (S/2010/447), the security situation in Somalia is deteriorating in a troubling way. The offensive launched by extremists in recent weeks has led to violent clashes in Mogadishu. The militias control today a significant portion of the capital, threaten the headquarters of the transitional institutions and are capable of infiltrating neighbourhoods controlled by the Transitional Federal Government (TFG). Attacks against parliamentarians on 24 August and against representatives of the international community and the President of Somalia at the airport a week ago, are evidence of that.

In Somalia the main day-to-day victims of terrorists are civilians. In the past four months, 1,600 civilians have been admitted to Mogadishu hospitals as a result of fighting, including 400 children under 5 years of age. Insecurity also undermines the TFG’s reconstruction efforts and harms economic development in the country.

The capacity of Al-Shabaab to cause harm also extends beyond the borders of Somalia and involves the entire region, as shown by the bloody attacks in Kampala on 11 July. Finally, instability in Somalia is still fertile ground for the piracy that threatens offshore sea lanes.

In this context, we welcome the commitment of the Ugandan and Burundian troops of the African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM), which makes it possible to secure key infrastructure in the capital and that of the transitional institutions. The entire international community must continue to support them. While IGAD and the African Union announced in July an increase of AMISOM troops to 8,000, the assistance that new contributors could provide would no doubt be critical.

For its part, France is actively contributing to the efforts of the international community in Somalia. Let me recall that in 2009 we trained 500 TGF soldiers. We are working with the European Union to train 2,000 Somali soldiers. Moreover, France has trained 5,600 AMISOM soldiers over the past three years, and today, with our European partners, we are financing soldiers of the force. We are also contributing to the United Nations logistical support package for AMISOM. Finally, France is involved in Operation Atalanta to combat piracy off the coast of Somalia.

Support for Government forces and AMISOM cannot take place without a genuine strategy coordinated with the political action of the TFG. The United Nations has a role to play in this matter. Politically and on the ground, the support of the countries of the region is necessary for success.

In the spirit of the Djibouti Agreement the TFG has in recent months made efforts to broaden its political base. The rapprochement with Ahlu Sunnah Wal Jama’a is an important step, which must be solidified. Work on drafting a constitution is also proceeding. Still, we expect more from the TFG. Disputes among the representatives of the transitional institutions have undermined their action and are unacceptable. Gestures must be made towards all who have agreed to renounce violence. Similarly, regular dialogue must be conducted by the TFG with the regions of Puntland and Somaliland. Finally, less than a year before the end of the transitional period, it is time for the TFG to prove that it is capable of offering basic services to the people: health care, education, justice and security. In all of these areas, needs remain considerable.

The United Nations is currently assisting the efforts of the TFG. At the same time, it could adapt to make its action more effective. The United Nations is currently conducting in Somalia various and complementary activities — political, logistical, humanitarian and development-related — through 25 separate bodies. We support enhanced integration of these various actions under the direct authority of the Special Representative, so that they can be more coherent, as proposed by the Secretary-General. We will carefully study the specific proposals of the Secretary-General on this matter. The initial measures of coordination — including the establishment of a Senior Policy Group bringing together the Special Representative of the Secretary-General, the Resident and Humanitarian Coordinator and the Director of the United Nations Support Office for AMISOM — are a first step, but they must go further, because our credibility is at stake.

We also encourage, as soon as possible and in particular once the security situation permits it, the establishment of a United Nations office in Mogadishu, so as to mark the continuity and involvement of the United Nations in Somalia. In this regard, we strongly encourage the Special Representative of the Secretary- General to continue his efforts to ensure this United Nations presence in Somalia, as the Secretary-General has asked him to do.

With respect to piracy, we all agree that we need to find solutions on land; we also need to pursue our action at sea. The debate held on 25 August (see S/PV.6374) enabled us to take a look at options proposed by the Secretary-General for prosecuting and imprisoning arrested pirates. The recommendations of the Special Adviser to the Secretary-General on these issues, Mr. Jack Lang, should enable us to find a solution that is both effective and equitable, for States in the region as well as States involved at sea.

The coming months will be critical for Somalia as the transitional period draws to a close, so I would like to assure Mr. Mahiga that he will have the support and confidence of France as he carries out the complex job he has undertaken.

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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