Ambassador Mary Beth Leonard
U.S. Senior Adviser for African Affairs
New York, New York
October 24, 2023
Thank you, Chair, and we thank the Independent Expert for her work.
The United States remains concerned by Somalia’s dire humanitarian situation. At least one-half of Somalia’s population – more than eight million people – require some form of humanitarian assistance. More than 2.6 million Somalis are internally displaced. Droughts, flooding, and locust swarms – all increasing in intensity and frequency due to climate change – as well as conflict have exacerbated vulnerabilities and increased displacement.
We are also concerned about Somalia’s human rights situation. Women and girls are particularly vulnerable, and more than 1.2 million lack access to adequate specialized services for gender-based violence. We applaud the Somali government for increasing the health budget, and we urge it to do more to address this area of critical need.
We remain concerned by the deterioration of press freedom in Somalia, including reports of arbitrary detention of journalists and media workers. We call on the Somali government, including the authorities in Somaliland, to lift restrictions on a free press, which is vital to a functioning society and government.
Our question is: What efforts are being taken by Somalia to prevent and respond to increased rates of gender-based violence, and what more can be done?
I thank you.