Informal Interactive Dialogue on the AU Mission in Somalia
Tomorrow afternoon, 23 April, Council members are scheduled to hold an informal interactive dialogue on the AU Mission in Somalia (AMISOM). (Informal interactive dialogues are unofficial meetings held at a venue other than Council chambers or consultation room where participation is nonetheless restricted to Council members and invited officials.) The anticipated participants include: Special Representative of the Secretary-General in Somalia Nicholas Kay, AU Special Representative for Somalia Mahamat Saleh Annadif, and a Federal Government of Somalia (FGS) representative.
Council members will likely be interested in an update on the status of a joint military offensive conducted by AMISOM and the Somali National Army (SNA) against Al-Shabaab since early March. AMISOM has been particularly active in sector 3 (Bay, Bakool and Gedo regions), which is under the command of Ethiopian forces, and sector 4 (Hiraan and Galguduud regions), which is under the command of Burundian forces. According to AMISOM press statements, the joint military offensives have captured ten towns from the Al-Shabaab insurgency thus far: Hudur, Rabdhure, Ted and Weel dheyn (Bakool region); Burdhubow (Gedo region); Buule Burde (Hiraan region); Eel Buur and Mahas (Galgaduud region); Qoryooley (Lower Shabelle region); and Qurunlow (Middle Shabelle region).
AMISOM and FGS efforts to stabilise territory recently seized from rebel control is also a probable topic of discussion. In a speech on 12 April, President Hassan Sheikh Mohamud identified FGS priorities for the stabilisation process, including: providing humanitarian assistance, creating temporary administrations, ensuring security, performing judicial functions, supplying basic services, enabling reconciliation, and facilitating democratisation. The specific role of the UN Assistance Mission in Somalia (UNSOM) within the context of peacebuilding and statebuilding is also likely to be of interest among Council members.
The most recent report of the Secretary-General on Somalia summarises the activities of the UN Support Office for AMISOM (UNSOA) in providing logistical support (S/2014/140). These include facilities construction, engineering services, rotation of troops and police, medical support, information and communications technology, and the training of personnel. The report also mentioned that AMISOM remained short of adequate air assets, with Uganda and Burundi having each been identified as potential contributors of up to four military helicopters. Questions may come up regarding the provision of military hardware to AMISOM and the current financial status of the UN trust fund. There will also be a separate event on Thursday afternoon, 24 April, to facilitate contributions from member states to the UN trust fund supporting the SNA and AMISOM.
Council members are also likely to express interest in hearing more about recent efforts of the FGS to regulate small arms. On 3 April, the Secretary-General sent a letter to the President of the Council conveying the findings of a technical assessment mission to Mogadishu and Nairobi from 12 to 18 March (S/2014/243). As requested by the Council in resolution 2142, the Secretary-General offered advice for improved regulation of small arms by the FGS (e.g. notification and reporting, weapons and ammunition management, and monitoring and verification). Feedback from the FGS on the proposals made by the Secretary-General and an update on implementation of resolution 2142 could come up in discussion.
UN, FGS and AMISOM counter-measures against the asymmetrical security threat posed by Al-Shabaab is another subject which could prompt questions from Council members. The Secretary-General sent a letter to the President of the Council on 1 April providing information on the establishment of a UN guard unit to facilitate the work of UNSOM (S/2014/239). Uganda has agreed to contribute the 410 required personnel through deploying new troops to Somalia by the end of April. Council members may have questions about the extent to which the UN guard unit will enable UNSOM to operate more securely in Mogadishu and elsewhere in Somalia. In the most recent incident in Somalia condemned by the Council in a press statement, two members of the UN Office on Drugs and Crime were killed on 7 April in Galkayo, Puntland (SC/11348). Two members of parliament have also been assassinated in Mogadishu by Al-Shabaab within the last week.
Lastly, in response to the September 2013 attack by Al-Shabaab in Nairobi and other more recent incidents, there has been an intensification of security measures targeting Somali refugees and ethnic Somalis in Kenya (which is also a major AMISOM troop contributing country). These apparently include mass arrests and detention, new legal provisions requiring the relocation of refugees from urban areas to refugee camps within Kenya, and pressure for refugees to repatriate to Somalia despite conditions being inadequate for large-scale returns. The Office of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees issued a statement on 17 April expressing concern at reports of harassment and other abuses during the security operations in Kenya. Any potential repercussions or spill-over effects which might increase instability in Somalia may be a topic of discussion during the meeting tomorrow.