What's In Blue

Posted Mon 9 Dec 2013

Somalia Briefing and Consultations

Tomorrow morning, 10 December, the Special Representative of the Secretary-General and head of the UN Assistance Mission in Somalia (UNSOM), Nicholas Kay, will brief the Security Council via video conference. The briefing will concern the most recent report of the Secretary-General on UNSOM (S/2013/709), covering the period from 16 August to 15 November. Council members will also hold consultations following the briefing. A Council outcome is not anticipated.

The Secretary-General’s report, issued on 2 December, provides an update on major political and security developments, highlights the work of UNSOM in five key areas (i.e. “good offices”, peacebuilding and statebuilding, human rights, humanitarian and development), summarises the activity of the UN Support Office for AMISOM (UNSOA) and outlines the evolving UN field presence in Somalia.

Kay and Council members are likely to discuss operational security challenges for the UN field presence in Somalia. The Secretary-General’s report notes that as of 7 November there were 329 international staff for UNSOM, UN agencies, funds and programmes deployed in Somalia. While field offices have been opened in cities such as Baidoa and Kismayo, ongoing security concerns have prevented the full operation of UN offices in Mogadishu. The Secretary-General’s report also mentions that planning for a UN Guard Unit has started and that the specific requirements will be shared with the Council.

On the humanitarian front, Council members may be interested to hear more from Kay regarding the Tripartite Agreement for the voluntary repatriation of Somali refugees signed in Nairobi on 10 November by Deputy President William Ruto of Kenya, Deputy Prime Minister Fawzia Yusuf Adam of Somalia and the UNHCR. In particular, as the Secretary-General’s report notes that “returns must be voluntary, and that conditions for large-scale returns are not yet in place”, it will be critical that the agreement is implemented in a way that protects the safety of approximately 500,000 Somali refugees in Kenya and avoids further destabilisation in Somalia.

In terms of more recent political developments not covered in the Secretary-General’s report, Kay and Council members may be interested in discussing the significance of the parliamentary vote of no-confidence (184-65) on 2 December removing Prime Minister Abdi Farah Shirdon from office. Kay issued a press statement on 2 December, noting that the vote “was managed in accordance with the provisional constitution and the rules of procedure of Parliament” and further stating that “Somalia’s institutions are coming of age”. According to media reports, Shirdon’s dismissal was precipitated by a power struggle with President Hassan Sheikh Mohamud regarding the composition of a new cabinet. Shirdon’s removal after 13 months in office and its potential implications for stability may be of concern to Council members.

Finally, with regard to the security situation in Somalia, Council members are likely to be interested in getting Kay’s perspective on Ethiopia’s stated intention to consider re-hatting its forces to AMISOM. According to a government spokesperson on 10 November, Ethiopia had preferred to stay outside AMISOM’s structure in order to maintain “command control” and “operational freedom”, but the country would reassess its position in response to an increase in AMISOM’s troop ceiling. (Resolution 2124 of 12 November authorised an increase in the mission’s size from 17,731 to a ceiling of 22,126 uniformed personnel). The spokesperson also commented that the total number of Ethiopian troops deployed in Somalia would not likely be increased, in which case their re-hatting to AMISOM (as opposed to other new troop contributions to AMISOM from outside Somalia) may not improve the overall counter-insurgency capacity against Al-Shabaab.

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