Somalia: Briefing and Consultations
Tomorrow morning (7 September), the Security Council is scheduled to hold an open briefing, followed by closed consultations, on the situation in Somalia. Special Representative of the Secretary-General for Somalia and head of the UN Assistance Mission in Somalia (UNSOM) James Swan will brief on the latest political, security and humanitarian developments in the country. Acting Special Representative of the AU Commission Chairperson (SRCC) for Somalia and head of the AU Transition Mission in Somalia (ATMIS) Fiona Lortan and EU Special Representative for the Horn of Africa Annette Weber are also expected to brief.
The dire humanitarian situation in Somalia is expected to be a key focus of tomorrow’s meeting. Swan is likely to highlight the Secretary-General’s latest report, covering developments from 7 May to 23 August, which describes the severe drought pushing Somalia to the brink of famine. According to the report, the drought has affected 7.8 million people–nearly half of the Somali population—and led to the displacement of more than one million. Swan may describe the efforts by humanitarian actors to provide assistance to 5.3 million Somalis despite challenges to humanitarian access. He may also draw attention to the 2022 Drought Response and Famine Prevention Plan, released by the UN and its humanitarian partners in June, which aims to mobilise $993.3 million to reach 6.4 million Somalis.
On 19 August, Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs and Emergency Relief Coordinator Martin Griffiths released $10 million from the Central Emergency Response Fund (CERF) to support humanitarian response efforts in Somalia. Since 2 September, Griffiths has been on a visit to the country, which is ongoing at the time of writing. The aim of his visit is to assess the situation on the ground and to meet with the federal and regional authorities, affected communities, and partners. In a 5 September message, Griffiths said: “We are in the last minute of the eleventh hour to avoid a full-blown disaster in Somalia.” Council members are likely to express serious concern about the dire humanitarian situation and call for enhanced international support to avert the looming famine. Some members may also mention emergency assistance they have provided to Somalia in response to the international humanitarian appeal.
Political developments in Somalia are another likely focus of tomorrow’s meeting. In June, Hassan Sheikh Mohamud was inaugurated as president; he subsequently appointed Hamza Abdi Barre to serve as prime minister. Following prolonged consultations, Barre announced the formation of his cabinet on 3 August. In this regard, Swan may describe his engagement with the new Somali leadership on how to align the UN’s support with the government’s priorities. These priorities include promoting national reconciliation; strengthening the federal system and improving relations between Mogadishu and the regional states; intensifying the fight against Al-Shabaab; finalising the constitutional review process and judicial reform; and addressing the humanitarian situation.
Council members are likely to welcome the conclusion of Somalia’s electoral process with the formation of a new government. They may also take note of the priorities outlined by the new government and underscore the need to align UN support with these priorities. Council members are awaiting the outcome of the UNSOM strategic review in line with resolution 2632 of 26 May, which extended the mandate of the mission until 31 October. Resolution 2632 renewed UNSOM’s mandate for a shorter period than the customary one year, with the aim of allowing time for a new government to form and for its priorities to inform any potential change to UNSOM’s mandate. The strategic review team under the leadership of Ian Martin, former Special Representative of the Secretary-General for Libya and head of the UN Support Mission in Libya (UNSMIL), visited Somalia and Ethiopia between 1 and 9 August to conduct consultations with the Somali federal government, regional states, UN agencies, the AU, ATMIS, women and youth civil society representatives, and international partners. The team’s report is expected by the end of September and is likely to inform UNSOM’s mandate renewal process in October.
Lortan is likely to stress the need for the Somali federal government to accelerate the implementation of the Somali Transition Plan and National Security Architecture. In this regard, she may call for the authorities to promote effective force generation and the integration of regional forces into the national security forces to facilitate the drawdown of 2,000 ATMIS troops by 31 December, in line with resolution 2628 of 31 March, which reconfigured the AU Mission in Somalia (AMISOM) into ATMIS. She may also draw attention to the funding challenges that ATMIS faces and call for renewed engagement to address this issue.
Although Lortan will brief tomorrow, it should be noted that AU Commission Chairperson Moussa Faki Mahamat appointed Mohamed El-Amine Souef as the new AU Special Representative to Somalia and Head of ATMIS on 1 September. Before his appointment, Souef was the head of the regional office of the UN Multidimensional Integrated Stabilization Mission in Mali (MINUSMA) in Gao, Central Mali. He had also previously worked with the UN-AU Hybrid Mission in Darfur (UNAMID).
Council members may emphasise the need for progress in implementing the Transition Plan. Members look forward to receiving the benchmarks and indicators requested by resolution 2628, which are due by the end of September. These benchmarks and indicators, for the effectiveness of ATMIS and the implementation of the Somali Transition Plan and National Security Architecture, are being drawn up by the UN in consultation with the Somali government, the AU, the EU, and other relevant member states.
In terms of the security situation, the persistent threat posed by Al-Shabaab continues to be a major concern for Council members. The UN recorded a monthly average of 227 security incidents between May and July. Al-Shabaab is implicated in most of these incidents. On 2 September, the group attacked trucks transporting food supplies in Hiiraan region, central Somalia. This incident, in which at least 20 civilians were reportedly killed, happened two weeks after Al-Shabaab’s siege of a hotel in Mogadishu in August that left 21 people dead and more than 100 people injured. Council members are likely to condemn these recent attacks by Al-Shabaab and express support for the federal government’s renewed determination to combat terrorism in Somalia.
Weber may mention her visit to Mogadishu in May following the conclusion of Somalia’s electoral process and her discussion with Mohamud to reaffirm the EU’s support for the consolidation of peace, security and development in Somalia. Regarding the humanitarian situation, she may allude to the EU’s humanitarian air bridge that is a means of delivering emergency assistance to Somalia. Weber may refer to the EU’s recent decision to resume direct budgetary support to the federal government to assist reform efforts. She may also refer to the EU’s continued support to ATMIS through the provision of €120 million to the military component under the European Peace Facility (EPF) and €20 million to the civilian and police components under its Africa Peace Facility (APF).