January 2018 Monthly Forecast

Posted 28 December 2017
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AFRICA

Somalia

Expected Council Action

In January 2018, the Council expects to receive the Secretary-General’s report on the situation in Somalia. 

The mandate of UNSOM expires on 31 March 2018.

Key Recent Developments

On 4 December 2017 the President of the Federal Government of Somalia, Mohamed Abdullahi “Farmajo” Mohamed, convened the Somalia Security Conference in Mogadishu with representatives of the Federal Member States of Somalia and the Benadir Regional Administration. The conference was co-convened by the UN and AU and attended by 29 of Somalia’s partners.

A communiqué that followed outlined progress made since the May 2017 London Conference and outlined how the Somalia Security Conference offered a pivotal opportunity to reflect on that progress, the result of efforts by the Federal Government of Somalia, the Federal Member States, and the Benadir Regional Administration to reform the security sector with the support of the international community. It stressed that Somalia continues to face a grievous threat from the Al-Shabaab terror group, which continues to perpetrate atrocities across Somalia. The participants agreed that the three priorities for immediate action were implementation of the National Security Architecture; urgent development of a realistic conditions-based transition plan with clear target dates to transfer security responsibility from the AU Mission in Somalia (AMISOM) to Somali security forces; and continued international support to build the capacity of Somali security forces and institutions. According to the communiqué, the next security conference will be held alongside the next Somali Partnership Forum in 2018 in order to assess progress and set the priorities for the next phase.

On 6 December 2017, the Council issued a press statement that welcomed the successful conclusion of the 4 December Security Conference.

On 14 December 2017, a suicide bomber killed at least 18 police officers and wounded at least 15 others during a parade at a training centre in the Somali capital, Mogadishu. The bomber, disguised as a policeman, blew himself up at the General Kaahiye Police Academy. Al-Shabaab claimed responsibility for the attack.

More than 100 Al-Shabaab militants were killed in a US airstrike on a camp in Somalia, US Africa Command said in a statement on 21 November 2017. The strike was carried out by a manned aircraft, 125 miles northwest of Mogadishu. According to the command, the US Defense Department now has 500 personnel in Somalia, including military, civilians and contractors, more than double the 200 personnel that had been reported to be in Somalia in March 2017.

On 14 December 2017, the US announced it would suspend food and fuel aid for most of Somalia’s armed forces over corruption concerns. A Reuters report said the US suspension came after the Somali military repeatedly failed to account for food and fuel, according to private correspondence between the US and Somali governments seen by Reuters.

Head of AMISOM Francisco Madeira told a news conference in Mogadishu on 7 November 2017 that AU troops would begin withdrawing from Somalia in December 2017 when 1,000 soldiers from the five troop-contributing countries—Burundi, Djibouti, Ethiopia, Kenya and Uganda—would depart. Madeira said the withdrawal would be conducted with caution to ensure that security was not compromised and that the drawdown would be gradual, responsible and conditions-based.

The US reportedly appealed against the downsizing of the mission. A US State Department official told media sources on 12 November 2017 that the decision called for concern and the US does “not support further drawdown of forces beyond that level at this time, due to ongoing security concerns. The US supports a conditions-based AMISOM drawdown that is tied to the development of capable, professional Somali security forces”.

A 10 December 2017 report prepared by UNSOM’s Human Rights and Protection Group, titled Protection of Civilians: Building the Foundation for Peace, Security and Human Rights in Somalia, focused on violations of international humanitarian and human rights law committed in the context of Somalia’s long-standing armed conflict. The findings and analysis in the report were a first attempt by the UN mission to quantify the toll that the conflict has had on civilians between 1 January 2016 and 14 October 2017. According to the report, UNSOM documented a total of 4,585 civilian casualties (2,078 killed and 2,507 injured) during that period, 60 percent of which were attributed to Al-Shabaab, 13 percent to militia, 11 percent to state actors, four percent to AMISOM, and 12 percent to undetermined or unidentified actors. In addition, Al-Shabaab abducted 729 civilians and was responsible for 86 targeted assassinations and the execution of 46 persons during the reporting period. UNSOM reported that state and non-state actors also carried out extrajudicial executions, sexual and gender-based violence, arbitrary arrests and detention, and abductions.

Key Issues and Options

Ensuring that UNSOM is properly equipped to support the Somali government in the three priority areas—state-building, security strategy, and socio-economic reform—is the key issue. Thus, Council members can take the opportunity of the briefing to discuss how the mission can best help the government in facilitating key political processes—such as the constitutional review; preparations for one-person, one-vote elections; and establishing a functional federal state—as well as advising and assisting the government on security matters and promoting economic development.

Concerning AMISOM, a key issue is ensuring that the mission is equipped to adequately strengthen the Somali forces so they can progressively take the lead in providing security. A premature handover of security responsibilities would risk undermining Somalia’s security and political gains.

Closely related is the need to secure predictable and sustainable funding for AMISOM and Somali security institutions. Regarding this, the Council may consider the AU’s requests for the UN to provide AMISOM with funding through assessed contributions, also suggested by Secretary-General António Guterres during his March 2017 visit to Somalia.

Council Dynamics

On Somalia generally, Council members are united in supporting state-building processes and in their support for UNSOM, 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. Concerning AMISOM, however, some Council members have expressed more caution about the drawdown of troops than others.

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

Security Council Resolutions
30 August 2017 S/RES/2372 This resolution reauthorised AMISOM until 31 May 2018.
14 June 2017 S/RES/2358 This resolution renewed the mandate of UNSOM until 31 March 2018.
Security Council Press Statements
6 December 2017 SC/13104 This statement welcomed the successful conclusion of the Somalia Security Conference and the inaugural Somalia Partnership Forum in Mogadishu on 4 and 5 December 2017.