Security Council Speakers Highlight Somalia’s Progress, But Stress Support Still Critical for Security Transition, Mission Drawdown, Looming Humanitarian Crisis
Appealing for Complete Lifting of Arms Embargo, Country President Stresses ‘Somalia of 2023 Is Not Somalia of 1992’
While Somalia has made significant progress across multiple sectors over recent months, collective engagement was still critical to ensure the country was not only prepared to assume responsibility for its own security alongside the drawdown of international presence on the ground, but also supported in tackling a looming and complex humanitarian crisis, speakers told the Security Council today.
Catriona Laing, Special Representative of the Secretary-General for Somalia and Head of the United Nations Assistance Mission in Somalia (UNSOM), reported that her travels around that country “have highlighted for me the tremendous progress that Somalia has made in state- and peace-building”. Detailing such progress — including revised national security architecture and models for fiscal federalism and elections — she observed that, while recent operations have degraded al-Shabaab, the armed group remains a significant threat. Operation Black Lion — a Somali-led initiative — is due to start in the coming weeks.
She noted, however, that the Operation will face challenges, including the fact that it will coincide with the drawdown of the African Union Transition Mission in Somalia (ATMIS), putting pressure on logistics. UNSOM must itself plan for a triple transition, including a security transition, the possible drawdown of the United Nations Support Office in Somalia (UNSOS) and the eventual handover from UNSOM to the United Nations country team. “This will be challenging,” she warned, adding: “I would like to reassure members that we are identifying the questions that need to be addressed, but some of the solutions will demand a collective endeavour.”
Mohammed El-Amine Souef, Special Representative of the Chairperson of the African Union Commission for Somalia and Head of ATMIS, also detailed progress made by the Government, including agreements on a federal judicial model, national security architecture and returning the country to one-person-one-vote elections. There have also been important successes in degrading al-Shabaab — “the main threat to Somalia” — and he underlined the significance of the next phase of operations against the group as it attempts to strengthen its weakened command-and-control structure.
He went on to urge those present to, over the next 18 months, collectively agree on the role ATMIS should continue to play as it begins to draw down and exit Somalia. Further, consensus must be reached on what that country should achieve in that time to ensure that the transition is successful. On the upcoming renewal of ATMIS’ mandate, he spotlighted the “chance to improve on past mandates by aligning with the Government’s security priorities”. Adding that resources are required to fight al-Shabaab and stabilize newly liberated areas, he underlined that this calls for the lifting of the arms embargo on Somalia.
Cindy McCain, Executive Director of the World Food Programme (WFP), warned that the violence and instability scarring Somalia has destroyed much of the infrastructure needed to support food production and distribution. Further, what has not been wrecked by conflict has been consumed by Somalia’s climate crisis. Urging Member States to immediately contribute to the humanitarian response plan for that country — which is seriously underfunded — she underscored that, without a rapid cash injection, almost 3 million women, children and men will be denied the assistance they desperately need “simply because we do not have the money to feed them”.
In the ensuing debate, many Council members expressed concern for Somalia’s people, who are suffering from al-Shabaab’s terrorism, food insecurity and climate shocks. While members welcomed the Government’s progress across various sectors, some stressed that, while famine has been averted, humanitarian needs remain acute. Others underscored, in that context, that international support for Somalia must respect that country’s sovereignty and territorial integrity. Many members also underlined the need to support Somalia in its fight against al-Shabaab and in its gradual assumption of security responsibilities as ATMIS prepares to draw down.
On that point, the representative of Mozambique, also speaking for Gabon and Ghana, stressed that the drawdown of ATMIS troops must be conducted in a coordinated manner to avoid the creation of new security challenges. Further, he supported the Government’s calls for the total lifting of the arms embargo and encouraged the international community and the Council to support ATMIS and Somali security forces to enable them to fulfil their urgent responsibilities.
Shakhboot bin Nahyan al Nahyan, Minister of State in the Ministry for Foreign Affairs of the United Arab Emirates and Council President for June, spoke in his national capacity, similarly calling on the Council to remain vigilant to Somalia’s needs at this critical juncture. Noting that drought has driven hundreds of thousands of Somalis to seek refuge in neighbouring countries, he urged the international community to support humanitarian and climate-change response programmes in Somalia.
In that vein, the representative of Brazil spotlighted the significant part of the Somali population standing at the brink of famine: “For many, life is a daily struggle simply to eat.” Additional, flexible funding for food security is critical for preventing conflict, he stressed, calling on Somalia to redouble efforts to strengthen governance, foster community reconciliation and provide services in areas affected by food insecurity.
The United Kingdom’s representative also stressed that the international community “cannot afford to be complacent about the scale of humanitarian need” in Somalia. The Council, for its part, should support ATMIS in delivering its critical functions and planning a strategic drawdown, as well as meeting Somalia’s needs as it assumes responsibility. She also urged all partners to support that country in making further progress against certain benchmarks to facilitate the lifting of arms controls.
Hassan Sheikh Mohamud, President of Somalia, meanwhile, spotlighted significant government efforts to reach consensus with federal member states on a variety of issues, liberate territory from al-Shabaab and combat terrorist financing. However, he underscored that — despite advancements — his country’s journey towards peace and prosperity faces the formidable obstacle of a prolonged arms embargo, imposed on Somalia since 1992. “Let me state clearly: Somalia of 2023 is not Somalia of 1992,” he emphasized, imploring those present to completely lift the arms embargo. By doing so, “you will empower us to assert our sovereignty, effectively combat terrorism and build a peaceful, prosperous future for our nation”.
The meeting began at 10:09 a.m. and ended at 12:19 p.m.
CATRIONA LAING, Special Representative of the Secretary-General for Somalia and Head of the United Nations Assistance Mission in Somalia (UNSOM), said that since recently assuming her new responsibilities in Mogadishu, she has met with President Hassan Sheikh Mohamud and other senior government officials, members of civil society, and international partners. “My travels around the country have highlighted for me the tremendous progress that Somalia has made in state- and peace-building,” she reported. Such progress in key national priorities includes the appointment of the Independent Constitutional Review and Implementation Commission; passage of legislation; and the successful one-person-one-vote district council elections in Puntland state. Recent meetings of the National Consultative Council resulted in three governance proposals: the revision of the National Security Architecture; a model for fiscal federalism; and an electoral model. On the electoral model, she urged Somalia’s Government to set out its plans for a rigorous and inclusive consultation process.
She went on to expressed grave concern over the conflict in Laascaanood [Las Anod], where violence has resulted in 308 civilian casualties, with 36 people killed and 272 individuals injured. While recent operations have degraded al-Shabaab, the armed group remains a significant threat. Operation Black Lion, a Somali-led initiative, is due to start in the coming weeks. Other security challenges regarding the next phase of operation merit attention. Firstly, operations will take place against a recent resurgence in the scale and geographic distribution of attacks from al-Shabaab. Secondly, the next phase of operations, which moves further south, presents more challenging politics and clan dynamics. Thirdly, operations will occur concurrently with the African Union Transition Mission in Somalia (ATMIS) drawdown, putting pressure on logistics.
Reporting that 8.25 million people, almost half of Somalia’s population, require humanitarian aid, she expressed alarm that the 2023 Humanitarian Response Plan is only 29.8 per cent funded. Droughts and flooding are becoming more frequent due to recurrent climate shocks, and traditional pastoral livelihoods are under severe pressure. On another note, she said that the country’s 30 per cent quota of women representation in the previous federal elections remains unrealized. Women’s participation needs to be codified in legal frameworks, including the Constitution. “As the first female SRSG [Special Representative of the Secretary-General] in Somalia, I will be putting this issue at the forefront of my work,” she said. On stabilization, she said that UNSOM has responded to the request by Somalia to step up its response. “Our shared ambition must be matched with the resources to deliver the necessary stabilization response,” she stressed.
UNSOM’s strategic review has recommended that the Mission plan for a triple transition. That includes a security transition, the possible drawdown of the United Nations Support Office in Somalia (UNSOS) and handover of the Mission support functions to UNSOM, and the eventual handover from UNSOM to the United Nations country team. However, her provisional assessment of transition going forward is that the complexity, the constraints, and pace of the transition process present risks. “This will be challenging,” she warned, adding: “I would like to reassure members that we are identifying the questions that need to be addressed, but some of the solutions will demand a collective endeavour.” Highlighting her priorities for UNSOM over the next six months, she pledged focus on preparing the United Nations for the three transitions and on positioning UNSOM to play a lead role in uniting international community efforts on stabilization.
MOHAMMED EL-AMINE SOUEF, Special Representative of the Chairperson of the African Union Commission for Somalia and Head of the African Union Transition Mission in Somalia (ATMIS), reported that — since his last briefing in February — Somalia has continued to focus on building consensus on critical issues. Expressing hope that this will lead to transformative change in the country, he welcomed that the National Consultative Council remains the vehicle for advancing change. In that regard, the Consultative Council agreed on a federal judicial model in December 2022, on national-security architecture in March and on returning Somalia to one-person-one-vote elections in May. He also said that he has been impressed by the collaborative working relationship between the executive and legislative branches since the Government’s formation in August 2022. Both branches are committed to ensuring that Somalia is governed under the protection of the law. Further, encouraging steps have been taken to signal that completion of the constitutional review process will be finalized during the Government’s current term.
Turning to the security situation, he reported that it “remains relatively stable but fluid across all our sectors”. There have been important successes in degrading al-Shabaab — “the main threat to Somalia” — and, under leadership of Somali security forces, the group has been dislodged from over 70 locations across Somalia during the current offensive. While this offensive — with support from ATMIS and international partners — has put al-Shabaab under operational pressure, ATMIS is mindful that its campaign against the group is a long-term endeavour that requires a holistic approach. “There will be days of great success, and there will be periods of setbacks,” he pointed out, underlining the significance of the next phase of operations against al-Shabaab as the group attempts to strengthen its weakened command-and-control structure.
He went on to detail ATMIS’ efforts to implement the security transition, noting that the Mission’s uniformed personnel have increased their mentoring of Somalia’s national armed and police forces. He also reported that the drawdown of ATMIS troops in accordance with resolutions 2628 (2022) and 2670 (2022) is now being implemented. Welcoming the strong partnership between Somalia and ATMIS in working towards the June drawdown, he said that the deadline of 30 June will be met. ATMIS will then be able to create quick-reaction and mobile forces. He added that he anticipated the “deployment of key enablers” — including attack and utility helicopters; long-range intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance; and counter-improvised-explosive-device capabilities. This will enhance ATMIS’ operational capability, thus enabling it to better respond to the Somali security forces’ operational requirements in the battlefield.
He urged those present to, over the next 18 months, collectively agree on the role ATMIS should continue to play as it begins to draw down and exit Somalia. Further, consensus must be reached on what that country should achieve in those 18 months to ensure that the transition is successful. Also expressing concern over the alarming rate of floods and droughts, he pointed out that, as ATMIS has supported displaced persons in previous years, with the drawdown, Somalia will need additional support in this area. As well, on the mandate renewal, he said: “We have a chance to improve on past mandates by aligning with the Government’s security priorities.” On that, he called for supporting the leadership of Somali security forces, holding liberated areas and taking over forward-operating bases. Adding that resources are required to fight al-Shabaab and stabilize newly liberated areas, he underlined that this calls for the lifting of the arms embargo on Somalia.
CINDY MCCAIN, Executive Director of the World Food Programme (WFP), said that having visited Somalia last month, she saw how conflict and climate change are conspiring to destroy the livelihoods of millions of Somalis. “I was horrified and heartbroken by what I witnessed,” she said, recalling stories of women she met in a camp for internally displaced people in Dolow. Those women told her about entire herds of livestock being wiped out in the droughts and how terrorists were recruiting children as young as 11. One woman she met, Halima, told her that she had fled 200 kilometres from her home in Garsaal, with her family of 10, to protect her young sons. She said armed groups had been taking boys from their families by force to join their ranks, killing anyone who refused. “I am here, today, to tell the Council that Halima and her family — and the countless thousands like her — urgently need help and hope,” she said.
Somalia was hauled back from the abyss of famine in 2022 because the international community saw the warning signs flashing red and raced to respond, she recalled. But now the international community is in danger of losing those precious gains. The violence and instability that scars the country has destroyed much of the infrastructure needed to support food production and distribution. And what has not been wrecked by conflict has been consumed by Somalia’s climate crisis. The longest drought on record killed millions of livestock and decimated crops. It has recently given way to disastrous flash floods in the south of the country. Moreover, since the start of 2022, conflict has triggered over 1 million internal displacements. Climate disasters have fuelled a further 2.1 million displacements over the past three years.
Over 6.6 million people — one third of Somalia’s population — are expected to face crisis or worse levels of hunger. Even worse, 1.8 million children are expected to suffer acute malnutrition in 2023. She urged Member States to immediately contribute to the humanitarian response plan for Somalia, which is seriously underfunded. “At WFP, we’re being forced to cut back on our life-saving assistance programs, just when they’re needed the most,” she said. And without an immediate cash injection, it will have to cut its distribution lists again in July to just 1.8 million per month. That is almost 3 million women, children and men who will be denied the assistance they desperately need, “simply because we do not have the money to feed them”. More so, she stressed the need to match food aid with investments to rebuild livelihoods to break the vicious cycles of hunger and poverty.
HASSAN SHEIKH MOHAMUD, President of Somalia, reported that, since his election in May, six successful meetings of the National Consultative Council have resulted in consensus agreements with federal member states on allocation of power, the judicial model, fiscal federalism, national security architecture and the electoral model. Further, the Somali armed forces have made significant strides in the fight against al-Shabaab in partnership with local communities. Over the past year, more than 70 towns have been recovered from the terrorist group’s grip, which has resulted in the opening of transportation routes and vast areas of rich farmland. The Government has also taken significant steps to combat money-laundering and the financing of terrorism, along with carrying out over 240 stabilization activities in recently liberated communities over the last six months. “For many of the people living in these towns, al-Shabaab was the only authority for 15 years,” he observed.
Looking ahead, he said that the next phase in Somalia’s fight against terrorism is “Operation Black Lion”. This operation aims to liberate nearly all remaining areas controlled by al-Shabaab, and with the support of Kenya, Ethiopia and Djibouti, the campaign should significantly degrade al-Shabaab and pave the way for sustainable peace and security. He went on to detail government efforts to assume security responsibility alongside the drawdown of ATMIS, also calling for a genuine transition from traditional assistance to resilience-based investments to enable communities to sustain themselves economically. Despite advancements, however, he underscored that his country’s journey towards peace and prosperity faces a formidable obstacle, that of the prolonged arms embargo imposed on Somalia since 1992. “Let me state clearly: Somalia of 2023 is not Somalia of 1992,” he emphasized, imploring those present to completely lift the arms embargo. He added that, by doing so, “you will empower us to assert our sovereignty, effectively combat terrorism and build a peaceful and prosperous future for our nation”.
SHAKHBOOT BIN NAHYAN AL NAHYAN, Minister of State in the Ministry for Foreign Affairs of the United Arab Emirates, commended Somalia’s Government for its commitment to building State institutions that articulate a forward-looking strategy, beginning with a focus on reconciliation and on revamping their electoral system. Despite advances, ongoing violence in Las Anod [Laascaanood] and the resulting civilian casualties are of great concern. He called for greater emphasis to be put on supporting efforts to counter al-Shabaab and expressed deep concern about the increase in attacks against civilians. The Council must remain vigilant to Somalia’s needs at this critical juncture, he stressed, also urging the international community to support humanitarian and climate change response programmes in Somalia. The drought has driven hundreds of thousands of Somalis to seek refuge in neighbouring countries. And as always, women and children are hardest hit, and make up more than 80 per cent of the displaced population.
BARBARA WOODWARD (United Kingdom), while noting that the humanitarian scale-up averted famine and that the arrival of rain ended the protracted drought in Somalia, underscored that the international community “cannot afford to be complacent about the scale of humanitarian need” in that country. She also noted that, alongside hard-won security gains, Somalia continues to take critical steps to prepare for the security transition. The international community must continue to support Somalia to enable a sustainable, affordable and accountable security sector that can take full responsibility for national security as ATMIS draws down by the end of 2024. In this, the Council should support ATMIS in delivering its critical functions and planning a strategic drawdown, as well as meeting Somalia’s needs as it assumes responsibility. Welcoming the Government’s commitment to strengthen the management of weapons and ammunition, she urged all partners to support Somalia in making further progress against the benchmarks in resolution 2662 (2022) to facilitate the lifting of arms controls.
ANNA M. EVSTIGNEEVA (Russian Federation) welcomed progress in Somalia’s federal fiscal policy, future electoral processes, and the constitutional review process. The international community must continue to support the territorial integrity and unity of Somalia. Despite the prevention of famine, the number of people in need is still very high. Al-Shabaab retains significant influence in the country and carries out regular raids and attacks, she said, denouncing all terrorist acts and expressing condolences to Uganda in connection with the recent al-Shabaab attack on the forward operating base. UNSOM has the necessary mandate to coordinate and support efforts for inter-clan reconciliation. “We hope that this conflict situation will be resolved swiftly,” she said. International efforts must focus on increasing the effectiveness on federal law enforcement agencies so that once ATMIS withdraws from the country, federal authorities will be able to resume full responsibility over security matters.
ZHANG JUN (China), spotlighting the need to advance the political process in Somalia, called on the Government to enhance mutual trust through dialogue with federal member states and on the international community to provide constructive support while respecting the country’s sovereignty and territorial integrity. He also underlined the need to accelerate the security transition, which is at a critical phase. The Government should accelerate capacity-building for national security forces and enhance Somalia’s independent counter-terrorism capabilities. Further, the Council should review and adjust arms-embargo measures on Somalia and support the country in strengthening its defensive capabilities. Turning to ATMIS, he expressed hope that the Government will steadily advance the Mission’s drawdown plan and ensure a steady handover of security responsibilities. Adding that it is necessary to promote development and achieve lasting peace, he called on the international community to ensure a timely disbursement of humanitarian funding and on Somalia to support international humanitarian operations.
PEDRO COMISSÁRIO ALONSO (Mozambique), also speaking for Gabon and Ghana, condemned attacks by al-Shabaab against the civilian population, humanitarian actors, ATMIS and the Somali federal government forces. He urged the Government, with the support of the international community, to further strengthen the ability of its security forces to prevent attacks of this nature. The mandate of ATMIS, which is currently being negotiated, must be clear and tailored to Somalia’s security needs. He expressed concern over the renewed conflict in Las Anod [Laascaanood], particularly in the Sool region, where violent clashes have resulted in significant casualties, destruction of infrastructure and civilian displacement. The drawdown of ATMIS troops must be conducted in a coordinated manner to avoid the creation of new security challenges. In this context, he expressed support to calls by the Somali Government for the total lifting of the arms embargo.
While commending the federal Government for its consistent efforts to advance national priorities, particularly on the state-building process, he noted with regret the failure of Puntland authorities to participate in the national consultative council meeting. He encouraged Somalia’s President, Sheikh Hassan Mahmoud, to continue his reconciliation efforts to bring Puntland back to the negotiating table. He also urged the continuation of the collaboration between Somalia and humanitarian actors, which is critical in alleviating the suffering of the Somali people. He commended ATMIS for its support to the Somali Government in its pursuit of peace and security, despite its own financial and logistical difficulties. He also strongly encouraged the international community and the Council to provide support to ATMIS and the Somali security forces to enable them to fulfil their urgent responsibilities.
NORBERTO MORETTI (Brazil) welcomed efforts by Somalia and its neighbours to establishing the Frontline States Initiative, along with the concomitant commitment of Djibouti, Ethiopia, Kenya and Somalia to expand operations against al-Shabaab. While commending gains in the fight against that terrorist group, he expressed concern over the increase in terrorist-related incidents. The growing use of improvised explosive devices is especially alarming, and on this, he recognized efforts by the United Nations Mine Action Service in delivering threat-mitigation services. He also commended the vital work of the WFP and humanitarian agencies in Somalia. However, a significant part of the population stands at the brink of famine, he pointed out, adding: “For many, life is a daily struggle simply to eat.” Additional, flexible funding for food security is critical for preventing conflict, he stressed, calling on Somalia to redouble efforts to strengthen governance, foster community reconciliation and provide services in areas affected by food insecurity.
ALBANA DAUTLLARI (Albania) said that progress made by the Somali Government should now be followed by a constitutional review process that is inclusive for women, young people and marginalized groups. Turning to the security situation, she said that al-Shabaab remains the deadliest threat to Somalia’s security. Condemning the recent terrorist attack on the ATMIS base, she expressed concern for the ongoing conflict in Laascaanood [Las Anod]. Despite Somalia’s progress under the enhanced Heavily Indebted Poor Countries Initiative and the measures mitigating the risk of famine, she reported that her country remains deeply alarmed about the humanitarian situation. Unfortunately, women and children remain the most affected groups of displaced people and the most common targets of human rights violations, sexual violence and recruitment. In this regard, she called on all parties to comply with their obligations under international law and for authorities to hold accountable those responsible for violations.
ISHIKANE KIMIHIRO (Japan) said that Somalia is in the midst of reaching an important inflection point in its security transition. “The Somali Security Forces now shoulder more responsibility to protect their own land and people,” he noted, condemning the recent terrorist attack on ATMIS. While further expansion of the Somali National Army’s operations to the south-west is expected, consolidating the Government’s security control in those newly liberated areas is also an essential task to degrade al-Shabaab. He commended neighbouring troop-contributing countries to ATMIS for their support to Somali force generation through capacity-building. Extending State authority should focus on assuring social welfare and the delivery of basic services. “This will help garner the trust of the population,” he said. Turning to complex clan dynamics, he said the ongoing violence in Laascaanood [Las Anod] remains of serious concern. All parties must exercise maximum restraint.
JEFFREY DELAURENTIS (United States) said that overcoming Somalia’s remaining challenges requires sustaining positive momentum in the security, political and economic spheres and in the area of reconciliation. Further, liberating the remaining territory held by al-Shabaab in central Somalia and ensuring that local communities receive the recovery support they need is vital in creating the necessary conditions for successful operations further south. As well, strengthening public-sector financial management and conducting thorough, credible investigations into allegations of corruption are imperative to building public trust. However, despite the significant assistance efforts currently under way, gaps remain. The international community must work together to address them to ensure Somalia’s long-term stability, economic growth and good governance. The United States will work closely with its partners in the Council on the issue of lifting the arms embargo when the mandate of the Council Committee established pursuant to resolution 751 (1992) concerning Somalia is renewed in November, he added.
HERNÁN PÉREZ LOOSE (Ecuador) condemned both terrorist attacks on the civilian population and the recent attack on ATMIS’ forward operation base, during which several Ugandan peacekeepers lost their lives. This recurrent violence, which is made exponentially worse by al-Shabaab’s terrorism, has caused a high number of casualties and tens of thousands of displaced persons. Their suffering is further compounded by drought and flooding. Millions of people in Somalia face high levels of food insecurity in the coming months, he said, expressing concern that al-Shabaab continues to pose a serious threat to peace and security in the country, as well as the region. He reiterated the need to preserve civic space without restrictions on freedom of expression and the work of journalists. Human rights violations and abuses against children, as well their recruitment and abduction by armed groups, are very serious concerns. Systems supporting transparent resource management that guarantee rule of law are necessary to address security challenges, he stressed.
FRANCESCA MARIA GATT (Malta) called for the full, equal and meaningful participation of women in political, electoral and constitutional processes in Somalia. On the security situation, she welcomed the commitment demonstrated by neighbouring countries, including the Frontline States Initiative that brings together Somalia, Djibouti, Ethiopia and Kenya. These efforts should encourage further progress in the security transition from ATMIS. Noting that Somalia remains heavily impacted by climate shocks, she commended the role of the climate security adviser within UNSOM, whose work has enabled a better understanding of how prolonged drought and flash flooding heightens farmer-herder conflicts and civilians’ susceptibility to radicalization and recruitment by al-Shabaab. She also expressed concern over sexual and gender-based violence against internally displaced women and girls, who comprise more than 80 per cent of internally displaced persons in Somalia. Stressing that perpetrators must be held accountable, she welcomed UNSOM’s support in incorporating a gender-responsive humanitarian response.
ADRIAN DOMINIK HAURI (Switzerland) said that the preliminary political agreement reached by the National Consultative Council to adopt an electoral model based on the principle of “one-person-one-vote” is a significant decision. Deploring the continued attacks by al-Shabaab, he called on all actors to respect international law, and to ensure the protection of civilians. On the ongoing conflict in Laascaanood [Las Anod], he urged all parties to ensure unhindered humanitarian access to those in need and agree to a ceasefire. Although humanitarian aid and recent rains have offered relief to the population in need, recovery will take time, particularly in view of the severe drought currently raging. The international community must invest in humanitarian response and peacebuilding programmes that take climate adaptation into account. “Otherwise, the next climate shock will bring the country back to the brink of famine, exacerbate displacement and conflict,” he said.
NATHALIE BROADHURST ESTIVAL (France) welcomed the new impetus over the past year to implement national priorities, including the deepening of federalism through renewed dialogue. She stressed that institutions must be strengthened, and the Constitution finalized, with the participation of women and youth ensured in these processes. Welcoming the Government’s successes in the fight against al-Shabaab, she said that these efforts must continue with the support of the Frontline States Initiative and in compliance with international humanitarian and human-rights law. The protection of the most vulnerable must also be ensured. Violence against children in particular must end, and efforts to prevent their recruitment must continue. On the humanitarian situation, she noted that the European Union has provided €170 million in humanitarian aid since December 2021, calling on international partners to strengthen their contributions to the United Nations humanitarian response plan. She added that the European Union has contributed €2.5 billion to the African Union’s missions in Somalia since 2007, stressing that other partners must participate in this effort.