posted on Tue 21 Mar 2017 4:10 PM
Somalia Briefing and UNSOM Adoption

On Thursday (23 March), the Security Council will hold a high-level meeting on the situation in Somalia. UK Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson will chair the meeting, while Special Representative Michael Keating and newly-elected Somali President Mohamed Abdullahi Mohamed “Farmajo” will brief the Council. The Council is also expected to adopt a resolution extending the mandate of the UN Assistance Mission in Somalia (UNSOM), which expires on 30 March. The Council is awaiting recommendations from the Secretary-General on the UN’s role in Somalia in the post-election period and has opted for a technical rollover of UNSOM’s mandate until 16 June, as those recommendations are expected in mid-May.

It is likely that both Keating and Farmajo will cover the electoral and political process. On 8 February, the electoral process concluded with the election of Farmajo, a former Somali prime minister, in a vote plagued with widespread corruption. Farmajo appointed Hassan Ali Khaire as Prime Minister on 23 February, and Khaire today announced the formation of a 26-member cabinet. Council members will be interested in the new government’s approach to a number of statebuilding issues highlighted in a 10 February presidential statement of the Council. The statement emphasised as an immediate priority the need to accelerate agreement between the federal and regional authorities on a Somali federal security sector architecture that clearly defines the roles, responsibilities and structures of relevant security sector institutions under full Somali ownership. The Council also urged the new federal administration to lay the foundations for inclusive and transparent elections in four years’ time by, among other things, ensuring that public office in Somalia cannot be achieved through harassment, intimidation, corruption or manipulation.

Another issue that featured in the presidential statement, and will most likely be raised, is the importance of the Somali government enhancing efforts to strengthen security in light of the eventual handover of security responsibilities from the AU Mission in Somalia (AMISOM) to the Somali security services. The statement encouraged UNSOM to continue to undertake a comprehensive approach to security in close coordination with the Somali authorities, AMISOM and international partners. Members may be looking to Keating for updates on how these partners are working together. Some members may be interested in an assessment of the security situation, particularly regarding Al-Shabaab, and what the new government’s approach to Al-Shabaab and other militant groups will be.

Foremost on the minds of Council members may be the drought and threat of famine. According to UNSOM, Somalia is in the grip of an intense drought as a result of two consecutive seasons of poor rainfall, and more than six million people require humanitarian assistance, half of those in need of urgent life saving measures. Farmajo declared the drought situation a national disaster on 28 February and has pledged to use all available platforms in the coming weeks and months to highlight it, including a forthcoming High-Level Partnership meeting on Somalia scheduled to be held in London on 11 May. In attempting to facilitate the delivery of much-needed humanitarian aid, the government has reportedly enforced tax exemptions on the import of critical humanitarian supplies that still attract any form of taxes; temporarily lifted taxes and levies on NGOs to enable them to scale up the delivery of humanitarian assistance; strengthened security at critical areas of humanitarian delivery, including the removal of illegal roadblocks; and imposed firm measures to prevent and penalise diversion of humanitarian assistance. Council members may be interested in hearing about the effects of such measures. Council members will be looking to Keating for an update on the humanitarian response by the UN and its partners, as well as on the UN Humanitarian Coordinator’s appeal for $825 million to prevent the crisis from deteriorating into a famine during the first half of this year. More than $400 million has been pledged by donors to support an escalation of the drought response, and the Humanitarian Coordinator urged donors to expedite disbursement of these funds to allow partners to scale up their work. On 7 March, Secretary-General António Guterres visited Somalia to highlight the crisis and appeal for assistance.