Ambassador Kelly Craft
U.S. Mission to the United Nations
New York, New York
November 23, 2020
Thank you, Madam President. Special Representative Swan, we deeply appreciate your briefing here today and your efforts on the ground in Somalia. The United States supports the efforts of the United Nations Assistance Mission in Somalia and will continue to stand with the mission in support of Somalia and its people.
The next months in Somalia are indeed particularly important for the future trajectory of the country. Constructive dialogue among Somali leaders over the last several months has led to the development of an electoral model. While we know the agreed-upon structure does not achieve the ‘one person, one vote’ model most Somali people want, we are encouraged by the peaceful process that led to this agreement and the manner in which the Federal Government and Member State Governments used dialogue to reach it.
We urge the FGS and the FMS to continue their dialogue and to achieve consensus on all electoral process matters, from the composition of the electoral management bodies to Somaliland seats in parliament. The United States strongly urges all concerned to hold firm to the 30 percent women’s quota to which Somalia has committed. Finally, we encourage further consideration and the timely implementation of the draft National Election Security Plan, noting that the December 1 scheduled start of parliamentary elections is just days away.
Madam President, conflict and terrorism remain serious impediments to Somalia’s march towards long-term stability and development. The United States is committed to supporting African-led efforts to address the threats that impact not just Somalia but the broader region.
We condemn in the strongest terms Al-Shabaab’s continued attacks on innocent Somali civilians, humanitarian workers, government officials, and institutions. And we offer our sincere condolences to the families of those who lost their lives in an attack on November 17 in Mogadishu.
With the government of Somalia’s update to the Somalia Transition Plan, it is important that we fully support and cooperate with the work of the UN Security Council-mandated Independent Assessment. We need to prepare for the February 2021 discussion on the AMISOM mandate to ensure that it is positioned to effectively meet mandate objectives and to enable Somalia to take greater security responsibilities.
The United States continues to be concerned about Al-Shabaab’s ability to accrue large amounts of financing for its activities through illicit activities. Al-Shabaab continues to expand its revenue base through informal taxation and the manipulation of formal and informal institutions. Some reports indicate that Al-Shabaab earns over $50 million per year through illegal means. We laud Somalia’s recent progress on curbing terrorism finance and encourage them to continue their work with the Somalia 751 Panel of Experts and its international partners.
Unfortunately, the trifecta of COVID-19, extreme flooding, and severe locust infestations have compounded Somalia’s already complex humanitarian emergency. The United States is Somalia’s largest humanitarian and development donor, including providing over $505 million in Humanitarian Assistance Funding in fiscal year 2020. This includes supplemental funding for both COVID and the locust responses. We remain steadfast in our support for the people of Somalia and call on others to do more.
Madam President, we are encouraged by the efforts of Somali leadership to make progress on the country’s re-entry into the international financial system. Somalia has implemented significant economic reforms in recent years and in March 2020 reached the first stage of debt relief through the Heavily Indebted Poor Countries Initiative. The United States, as a Paris Club member and Somalia’s largest bilateral donor, has worked with the government to reduce and reschedule its decades old U.S. loans. The United States is confident that Somalia is on a path towards stability and prosperity.
Lastly, the United States would like to highlight the UN’s ongoing and important work in preventing sexual and gender-based violence. We commend the efforts to ensure accountability and to train Somali authorities on best-practices. These efforts are making a real difference, and we applaud the shared commitment to tackling this terrible challenge.
Thank you very much.