Thank you, Mr. President. As others have before me, Mr. President, I want to extend our heartfelt condolences to our close friends in the United Kingdom on the terrorist attack yesterday in London. We pledge our full cooperation and support in responding to the attack and in bringing those responsible to justice.
Thank you also, Mr. President, for the United Kingdom’s leadership on Somalia. Thank you to Special Representative Keating and Special Representative Madeira for your briefings, as well.
We were honored by President Farmaajo’s participation today, and look forward to working closely with President Farmaajo and his cabinet.
There is a difficult job ahead with formidable humanitarian and security challenges complicating the already daunting tasks of building strong state institutions and extending services to communities throughout Somalia.
Let me assure President Farmaajo and the people of Somalia of continued support from the United States.
An immediate challenge facing the people of Somalia is the worsening hunger crisis, of course. More than half of Somalia’s population needs food, water, and health services now. And, as we’ve just heard today, only 32 percent of the needed $825 million dollars has been received.
We must aggressively pursue all funding streams to meet these urgent needs if we hope to mitigate the possibility of another famine.
We urge Somali federal and state authorities to do everything possible to remove bureaucratic impediments to the movement of humanitarian assistance, and with the support of AMISOM, establish conditions conducive to the unhindered delivery of critical humanitarian supplies.
We are especially troubled by al-Shabaab’s increasing depravity as they intensify their asymmetric attacks against civilians, security services, and government officials.
We condemn Tuesday’s car bomb attack in Mogadishu’s Hamarweyne district, and we extend our condolences to the families of the victims.
We urge AMISOM and the Somali security forces to be proactive in efforts to disrupt al-Shabaab and deter other terrorist organizations from gaining a foothold in Somalia. The United States continues to engage with partners to work towards a suitable solution to the issue of AMISOM troop stipends.
The United States provides substantial assistance, including equipment, to the militaries of many AMISOM Troop Contributing Countries, and we encourage donors to contribute to the Trust Fund for AMISOM and the Somali National Army.
We recognize that AMISOM cannot stay forever in Somalia, and in this regard, joint planning between the UN and AU to identify AMISOM’s immediate needs has become increasingly important.
The upcoming UN-AU joint review of AMISOM will be an opportunity to assess Somalia’s comprehensive security needs and identify a way forward for AMISOM.
Given the severity of remaining security challenges in Somalia, we do not believe it is appropriate at this time to transition to a UN peacekeeping mission.
AMISOM should continue its principal mission to reduce the threat of al-Shabaab while setting the conditions for a successful security transition. To that end, we encourage President Farmaajo to work with the Somali regional presidents to reach agreement on a national architecture for the Somali National Army and security forces.
Somalia’s international partners must carefully consider how best to provide coordinated support to Somalia’s security sector. If we are frank, we must recognize that at times our efforts to train and equip Somalia’s National Army have not translated directly into sustainable gains.
Security assistance works well when donors coordinate closely behind a Somali-led process, and we have welcomed intensified donor coordination in recent months under the auspices of the S-6 mechanism.
Strong Somali leadership from Villa Somalia and Parliament is also needed to begin the constitutional review process that will formalize state formation and provide a legal foundation for Somali institutions. A spirit of reconciliation must undergird these efforts to ensure inclusivity.
It is crucial that the Somali government also protect its citizenry and prevent the unlawful use and recruitment of child soldiers, sexual and gender-based violence, and the harassment of journalists by security forces.
We look forward to the London Conference on Somalia as an opportunity for the Federal Government of Somalia and its international partners to reach agreement on these key issues we’ve discussed here today.
We hope that we will emerge from that conference with a shared path for the next phase of supporting Somalia’s development, addressing urgent humanitarian needs, and building on the recent political and security successes that give us hope that a brighter future is possible for the Somali people.
Thank you, Mr. President.