Expected Council Action
In May, the Council is expected to renew the authorisation of the AU Mission in Somalia (AMISOM), which expires on 31 May. The Council also expects to receive the report of the AU-UN joint assessment of AMISOM requested by resolution 2297, and recommendations from the Secretary-General on the UN’s role in Somalia in the post-election period requested by resolution 2275.
Key Recent Developments
There has been some progress on the political front in Somalia. On 29 March, the Somali Federal Parliament approved a new cabinet, made up of 27 members including six women. On 17 April, the Federal Government of Somalia and the Federal Member States agreed to form a National Security Council and made key decisions on priorities such as fighting corruption and drought response, following two days of consultations in Mogadishu, led by Somali President Mohamed Abdullahi Mohamed “Farmajo” and other senior officials. Farmajo will head the Council, which will be composed of leaders from Somalia’s regions. Special Representative of the Secretary-General and head of the UN Assistance Mission in Somalia (UNSOM) Michael Keating said that the agreement to establish the body was “a cornerstone of the federal state building process and is a basis upon which strengthened security can be built”. Keating noted that, as well as the UN, AMISOM, the Inter-Governmental Authority on Development (IGAD), the EU, Italy, Ethiopia, Sweden, Turkey, the UK, and the US had all expressed their support for the outcome of the consultations.
Numerous challenges, however, have continued to confront the country. On 6 April, President Farmajo declared Somalia a war zone and offered members of the Islamist militant group Al-Shabaab amnesty, including training, employment and education, if they laid down their arms in the following 60 days. “We want to pardon the Somali youth who were misled by Al-Shabaab,” he said. Farmajo also announced a major shake-up in the security services, in which senior intelligence and police officials have been replaced to prepare for the escalating war against the militants. Al-Shabaab attacks have continued.
Somalia has experienced severe humanitarian crises, including a cholera epidemic and a drought with a looming famine. More than 25,000 people in Somalia have been struck by cholera or acute watery diarrhea, and the epidemic could double by this summer, the World Health Organization (WHO) said on 13 April. The WHO also reported that the fatality rate for the disease, which is spread by contaminated food or water, is already 2.1 percent in Somalia, twice the emergency threshold. At least 524 deaths had been recorded at that time.
Concerning the drought and looming famine in Somalia, John Ging of OCHA said on 18 April that the situation was “very fast moving” and that more than 6.2 million people were in need of food and water and were at risk for cholera and measles. He reported that donors had funded 70 percent of the $825 million humanitarian appeal for Somalia.
In recent months, Somalia has also seen a resurgence in piracy attacks against large commercial vessels, including the 14 March hijacking of a Comoros-flagged oil tanker, the 3 April hijacking of an Indian commercial vessel, and the 15 April attempted hijacking of an unidentified ship in the Gulf of Aden, during which foreign naval forces shot dead two Somali pirates.
On 23 March, the AU Commission convened a high-level consultation on the future of AMISOM and support for security sector institutions and reform in Somalia. Senior representatives of IGAD, the EU, the UN, and the five permanent members of the Security Council were present. A press release following the meeting said that the parties discussed the need to support AMISOM and non-AMISOM troops by providing fuel, rations, medical supplies and transport for a limited period of six months during simultaneous offensives in the Jubba Valley corridor and the North East Coastline; and that the upcoming joint AU-UN review should provide an opportunity for the redefinition of tasks and for considering options for reconfiguring AMISOM. The release also noted that the partnership between the AU and UN will be central in the future presence of AMISOM and options to enhance this partnership should be explored in the upcoming joint AU-UN review. The meeting also took note of the AU recommendation that the UN should consider the possibility of enhanced UN participation in the substantive civilian component functions of AMISOM, including the prospect for a joint Special Representative for Somalia, as well as full support for AMISOM uniformed personnel through UN-assessed contributions.
On 15 April, a US military spokeswoman said the US is deploying “a few dozen” troops to Somalia to assist the national army and conduct unspecified security operations in the largest US deployment to the country in about two decades.
On 13 April, the Chair of the 751/1907 Somalia and Eritrea Sanctions Committee, Ambassador Kairat Umarov (Kazakhstan), briefed the Council on the work of the Somalia Eritrea Monitoring Group (SEMG) over the past four months. Umarov said the Committee had received notifications related to the arms embargo on Somalia and was working on the issues of sanctions violations and actions of armed groups. He announced a possible future visit of the Committee to the Horn of Africa. During the reporting period, the SEMG had again found no links between Al-Shabaab and Eritrea, he said, but it had raised concerns about Djiboutian troop disappearances after the Djibouti-Eritrea border clashes and had examined Eritrea’s compliance with relevant Council resolutions. The SEMG also investigated the origin and destination of a cache of 25,000 firearms found in Somalia. Umarov also relayed that the SEMG was primarily concerned with the threats posed by continuing illegal fishing and Al-Shabaab’s involvement in the charcoal trade.
Concerning the reauthorisation of AMISOM, a key issue is ensuring that the mission is equipped to adequately strengthen the Somali national security forces and enhance their ability to carry out operations against Al-Shabaab, particularly in light of AMISOM’s plan to begin withdrawing from Somalia in October 2018.
Another issue concerning AMISOM is ensuring that its forces comply with human rights standards in joint military operations with the Somali national security forces against Al-Shabaab.
On sanctions, a key issue in April will be assessing the Federal Government of Somalia’s management of arms and ammunition and implementation of maritime interdiction measures regarding arms and charcoal. A major issue will be considering the findings of the midterm report of the SEMG and determining whether to consider altering or ending the Eritrea sanctions regime, as advocated by some Council members.
Regarding Somalia more generally, a pressing issue is ensuring an appropriate humanitarian response to the drought and looming famine and the outbreak of cholera.
The most likely option will be to reauthorise AMISOM for one year using the observations and recommendations of the joint AU-UN review of AMISOM as a basis for any alterations to the mandate.
On Somalia generally, Council members are united in supporting state-building processes and in their support for AMISOM, as demonstrated by unified messages conveyed during the Council’s visit to Somalia in May 2016 and the uncontentious adoption of several recent Council outcomes on Somalia.
Regarding sanctions, the Council is divided between those members who believe it should reconsider sanctions measures against Eritrea, such as China, Russia and Egypt, and those who remain concerned about Eritrea’s other activities in the region and seem to view cooperation with the SEMG as a precondition for any changes in the sanctions regime. Ethiopia is likely to oppose the easing or lifting of sanctions on Eritrea advocated by some members.
The UK is the penholder on Somalia, and Kazakhstan is the chair of the 751/1907 Somalia and Eritrea Sanctions Committee for 2017.
UN DOCUMENTS ON SOMALIA AND ERITREA
|Security Council Resolutions|
|23 March 2017 S/RES/2346||This was a technical rollover of UNSOM’s mandate until 16 June 2017.|
|10 November 2016 S/RES/2317||This was a resolution on Somalia and Eritrea sanctions with ten votes in favour.|
|7 July 2016 S/RES/2297||This was a resolution which extended AMISOM’s authorisation until 31 May 2017 with no major changes.|
|24 March 2016 S/RES/2275||This was a resolution extending the mandate of UNSOM.|
|9 January 2017 S/2017/21||This was the Secretary-General’s report on Somalia.|
|Security Council Meeting Records|
|23 March 2017 S/PV.7905||This was a briefing by Keating, Madeira and Farmajo.|
|Sanctions Committee Documents|
|7 October 2016 S/2016/920||This was the report on Eritrea of the Monitoring Group on Somalia and Eritrea.|
|7 October 2016 S/2016/919||This was the report on Somalia of the Monitoring Group on Somalia and Eritrea.|