Delivered by: Her Excellency Lana Nusseibeh, Ambassador and Permanent Representative
I’d like to begin by thanking today’s briefers, SRSG Catriona Laing and Ambassador Mohammed El-Amine Souef, and we also welcome Somalia’s participation in this meeting.
Over the past two decades, and against many odds, Somalia has proven to be a great example of resilience, and of the potential of regional and international partnerships. I would therefore like to start by reiterating our support to the people of Somalia, the Federal Government of Somalia, and to both UNSOM and ATMIS. Thanks to their collective efforts, and despite the challenges the country still faces, Somalia continues its inspiring upward trajectory.
As we meet today, the country’s stabilization continues apace and efforts to address terrorism have been effective, presenting an opportunity to consolidate lasting peace in Somalia. It is a tribute to the vision of Somalia’s leadership and the strength of its people. There is, however, still much work to be done to sustain that momentum as Somalia seeks to rid itself of Al-Shabaab and jumpstart its recovery.
In this context, I’d like to make three key points:
First, the fight against terrorism must be sustained and follow the lead of the federal government of Somalia.
President Hassan Sheikh Mohamud and the Somali National Army have shown great determination to dislodge Al-Shabaab from its strongholds across the country, but we are all too aware that its terrorist activities continue to pose a grave threat to Somalia and the wider Horn of Africa. Just last Monday, the killing of a journalist by Al-Shabaab during a suicide attack at a restaurant in Mogadishu was yet another reminder of the need to remain vigilant.
In recent months, threatened by the Somali government’s offensive, Al-Shabaab has responded by ramping up violence. The next steps in countering Al-Shabaab are clear: there is a need for a coordinated strategy that sustains the ongoing military offensive to protect Somalis whilst also helping the government of Somalia stabilize its territorial gains.
Somalia has taken international concerns about the fight against Al-Shabaab seriously, including in developing accountability mechanisms to trace weapons systems, which is a very encouraging sign. It is now up to the international community and this Council to fulfil its end of the bargain. Sanctions are only effective if they also adapt to the shifting dynamics on the ground, and the UAE believes that the current situation necessitates the lifting of the arms embargo on the Federal Government of Somalia.
Alongside African TCCs, we support Somalia’s call for a three-month pause to the withdrawal of ATMIS. This will allow them the much-needed time to design the appropriate strategies that will prevent a security vacuum ripe for exploitation by Al-Shabaab.
We must also remain vigilant to the regional ramifications of Al-Shabaab, including its ties with other terrorist networks, and continue supporting the government of Somalia’s cooperation with its neighbors to address this threat.
Second, efforts to strengthen climate change resilience must be scaled up.
Somalia confronts regular disasters fueled by climate change. They range from recurrent droughts, which affect food security and exacerbate poverty, to recent floods that displaced nearly a quarter of a million people. These events aggravate the already dire humanitarian situation and can become a driver of conflict, and this why the UAE has been a partner to the Somali government to help alleviate these humanitarian needs on the ground. During the period of 2018 to 2023, assistance from the UAE to Somalia amounted to 197 million dollars.
Third, addressing the immediate challenges facing Somalia must not distract us from the long-term sustainable development of the country.
The UAE, both in its individual capacity and as a member of the Quintet for Somalia, remains committed to the long-term security and stabilization. The government’s stabilization and reconciliation program outlines areas that urgently need significant attention and investment, key among them being Somalia’s economic recovery and development.
We firmly believe that the economic development of Somalia is a powerful peacebuilding tool that consolidates security gains. The UAE looks forward to hosting the next gathering of the Quintet to discuss how we can continue to support the people of Somalia.
Now is the moment to redouble our support for the significant progress made so far in also enacting economic reforms that would boost the country’s recovery.
The people of Somalia have the resolve and the ingenuity to own the solutions to the challenges they face and to pave the way towards a society that reflects those aspirations, and the UAE will continue to offer its unwavering support.