Somaliland: US Concerned by Ban of UN Flights


Press Release: US State DepartmentUNHAS flights banned from Somaliland

Remarks AS DELIVERED U.S. Mission to the United Nations At a Security Council Briefing On Somalia

Somalilandsun – Thank you, Mr. President, Minister Simmonds, for hosting this session and thank you, Deputy Secretary-General Eliasson, for your briefing. I wish to welcome the presence of the deputy prime minister and minister of foreign affairs of Somalia as well.

At the outset, we would like to take this opportunity to express appreciation to former SRSG Mahiga and the UN Political Office to Somalia for their contributions to Somalia’s progress.

The United States welcomes the establishment of the UN Mission to Somalia (UNSOM) based in Mogadishu and looks forward to its expanded presence in key locations throughout the country. With a fully integrated UN Country Team, UNSOM will provide the Somali Government “one door to knock on” for UN support. We also welcome Nicholas Kay as the new SRSG for UNSOM and support his early outreach to the African Union as the UNSOM-AU partnership is critical to fostering peace and stability in Somalia.

In addition, we especially want to thank the brave soldiers of the African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM), the Ethiopian Defense Forces, and the Somali National Security Forces. Their sacrifices have made possible a brighter future for the people of Somalia.

But much work remains. Despite many tactical successes, al-Shabaab is not yet defeated. And there are others who wish to drag Somalia back into chaos. Recent terrorist attacks show that Mogadishu and many rural parts of Somalia are still vulnerable. We look to the Somali National Security Forces and AMISOM to continue their efforts to expand and maintain control over the country so that the Somali Government can improve governance and the rule of law. In addition, we urge Member States to fulfill their obligations related to the targeted sanctions, the modified arms embargo, and the charcoal ban to stop proceeds from providing revenue to al-Shabaab.

We strongly support President Hassan Sheikh’s National Security Strategy and look forward to its implementation. At the May 7 London II Conference on Somalia, the United States announced almost $40 million in new assistance to support development and justice sector reform in Somalia. We applaud those who also made pledges and stress that fulfilling our pledges is essential for continued progress.

Long-term stability in Somalia depends on many factors – an effective, responsible security sector; good governance and the rule of law; and economic development. On the security front, AMISOM’s training of the Somali National Security Forces and joint combat operations are critically important. The relocation of the European Union Training Mission to Somalia from Uganda to Mogadishu is another positive development.

We encourage UN entities and donors to continue to support economic development, including efforts to address land disputes, which is a key conflict driver. We recognize UNDP’s work to establish a microfinance mechanism in Somalia and encourage greater attention to youth unemployment.

The United States remains gravely concerned by continuing human rights violations in Somalia, including alarming reports of sexual violence and exploitation. We appreciate the work that SRSG Bangura has contributed toward the UN-Federal Republic of Somalia joint communiqué of May 7, which contains significant commitments by Somalia to address sexual violence. The substantial decline of reported cases of grave violations against children in the first quarter of 2013 is encouraging, but the 552 cases that have been reported remain alarming. We urge increased attention to this overall problem and look to the Somali Government to follow through on its declared intent to work with the international community to fight this scourge and hold perpetrators accountable.

We are also concerned about Somaliland’s decision on May 14 to ban UN flights over Somaliland Airspace. This could harm the humanitarian situation there and affect the provision of food, shelter, water and sanitation, and other support by humanitarian organizations. OCHA estimates that approximately 413,000 people in Somaliland need humanitarian aid, including 39,000 children who suffer from malnutrition. More than 85,000 people remain displaced due to recurrent drought and conflict.

Mr. President, Somalia must continue moving along the path to national elections and a referendum on the national constitution by 2016. The United States continues to support Somali-led governance and calls for further dialogue with local political and community leaders, including women, on unresolved regional issues. The situation in Jubaland is particularly concerning. We look to Somalia’s neighbors for support in easing the tension and finding lasting solutions. We applaud those regional actors who have played a positive role in supporting Somalia’s unity and sovereignty, especially in the early days of President Hassan Sheikh’s administration.

We join those here today who are committed to Somalia’s success and will continue to make every effort to support the Government and people of Somalia as they strive for peace and prosperity in their country.

Thank you.