As prepared. Check against delivery.
Let me begin by expressing Ukraine’s deep and sincere condolences to the families of the victims and all British citizens in connection with yesterday’s terrorist attack in London. My nation stands with yours in this difficult hour.
I also want to thank you, Mr. President, for personally chairing this important briefing. We appreciate UK leadership in the Council on the Somalia file, including by steering the Council’s field mission to Mogadishu last May. I am also grateful to briefers for their insightful updates.
Allow me to express our full support for President of Somalia Mohamed Abdullahi Mohamed’s commitment to bringing sustainable peace and prosperity to the country.
Like others, we are heartened to see significant progress in the political and security areas in Somalia since 2012. The most substantial strides were made in the electoral field. It was a long-distance election marathon with many hurdles along the way. Yet, at the finish line, we witnessed the most peaceful and inclusive electoral process Somalia ever had in the last decades. This is a clear success.
It is truly remarkable that the representation of women in political life has increased by 70 per cent since previous elections. I am confident it will have a positive impact not only on further political empowerment of women, but also on the overall success of peacebuilding endeavor in Somalia.
We understand that elections alone cannot put an end to instability in the country. Yet, they are a historic milestone on the road to peace and reconciliation of the nation, achieved against a backdrop of continued security challenges, especially terrorist threats.
This positive electoral experience should facilitate preparation of the next step: ensuring universal suffrage in Somalia.
Further international assistance, in particular through the commendable efforts of the UN Assistance Mission in Somalia, the African Union, the Intergovernmental Authority on Development, the European Union, the League of Arab States, the Organization for Islamic Cooperation as well as the African Union Mission in Somalia, remains instrumental.
As famous 18th century English writer Samuel Johnson coined, “The future is purchased by the present”. With this in mind, allow me to single out three particular challenges facing Somalia today.
First — a dire humanitarian situation, which, unfortunately, is continuing to deteriorate with every passing day.
According to the recent OCHA, UNHCR and UNICEF data, malnutrition and drought-related diseases are on the rise, cholera has spread to 11 out of 18 regions. Drought and conflict related displacement continues to grow. Half of the population is in need of food and humanitarian assistance. Almost 1.4 million children are at an imminent risk of death from severe malnutrition, as famine looms in Somalia and its neighboring countries.
These numbers are more than abstract statistics. These are people’s lives, including women and children that must be saved. The Council should act decisively in a unified manner. We should realize that under the circumstances time is not our ally here.
In this light, we commend the efforts of the Secretary-General and fully support his personal involvement to prevent the repetition of the situation we saw in Somalia in 2011, when hundreds of thousands of people perished.
This is a time for joint action, for redoubling our unified support and assistance to the Government and people of Somalia. It would be totally unacceptable for the United Nations and the international community at large to let the famine devastate the country again.
We welcome all international efforts aimed at preventing such a scenario. In this context, we commend United Kingdom’s role in these efforts and your readiness to seek new platforms and ways to help Somalia, such as the planned international conference on Somalia in London in May.
Second — security and counterterrorism.
Though, the security situation continues to improve, we realize that the threat posed by Al-Shabaab still persists. We strongly condemn its terrorist activities, particularly attacks and violence against civilians, recruitment and use of children, abductions, and attacks on humanitarian workers.
We pay tribute to AMISOM as well as Somalia’s security forces for their efforts in tackling this threat.
In the context of AMISOM’s eventual exit, we would like to encourage the Government of Somalia to accelerate the Security Sector Reform, in close cooperation with the UN presence and international partners. The readiness of local forces for a gradual takeover of security responsibilities from AMISOM, including in the area of protection of civilians, should remain the top priority.
We know full well from our own experience, that only well-trained and well-equipped national forces can effectively guarantee lasting peace and stability in the face of the threat posed by terrorism.
Third — the political domain.
Besides the need of ensuring a universal suffrage I have already mentioned, there is no doubt that the constitutional review, as well as further agreement on federal administrative system of the country, are key tasks before the new Government. Transparency and inclusiveness play a decisive role in determining how successful this Government will be, how it will be judged by the international community and, above all, by the Somalia people.
Finally, let me briefly touch upon another factor, which must not be overlooked if we are to accompany Somalia on the path to sustainable peace in a comprehensive and holistic manner.
Last week the first hijacking of a commercial vessel by pirates since 2012 has been reported. We hope that this incident will not bring the threat of piracy in the Gulf of Aden to the levels we witnessed a few years ago. Prevention and countering of piracy and armed robbery at sea should remain among priority issues for the Government of Somalia and the international community.
Ukraine stands in solidarity with Somalia as it counters this and other challenges, as well as embraces new historic opportunities.
I thank you, Mr. President.