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AMISOM and Partners conclude a three-day Workshop

Posted by African Press International on November 14, 2013

ADDIS ABABA, Ethiopia, November 11, 2013/African Press Organization (APO)/ – The African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM) in collaboration with its partners has today concluded a workshop on the development of a Gender Mainstreaming Strategy.

The workshop which aimed at undertaking a comprehensive reflection to develop a mission-specific strategy that addresses the critical gender gaps, was attended by representatives from the Federal Government of Somalia, the African Union, AMISOM, UN missions as well as representatives from research and civil society organizations.

The workshop was officially opened by the Special Representative of the Chairperson of the African Union Commission for Somalia, Ambassador Mahamat Saleh Annadif. In his opening remarks, Ambassador Annadif praised the organizers of the workshop which comes at a time when the mission is undergoing different phases of transformation.

“In its operations, AMISOM will always safeguard human rights and integrate gender perspectives into its work in compliance with the United Nations Charter, international human rights instruments and the UN Security Council Resolutions including resolution 1325 on women, peace and security,” he said.

“I have great expectations and I am confident that your discussions on Gender and its mainstreaming across the mission will lead to a concrete Gender Strategy that will guide the mission in current and future operations,” he added.

The Director of Women, Gender and Development Directorate of the African Union Commisssion-Ms. Litha Musyimi-Ongana, reiterated the AU’s full support to AMISOM in the implementation of the strategy once it has been adopted. She thanked the participants and ACCORD on behalf of the Chairperson of the African Union for the fruitful deliberations which resulted in the draft strategy. The position was appreciated by Ambassador NTAMWANA-AMISOM Chief of Staff who represented the SRCC during the closing of the workshop.

The workshop highlighted key areas of achievement and lessons learned from other similar peacekeeping missions, and identified priorities that informed a draft strategy to be submitted to the mission’s leadership for endorsement.



African Union Commission (AUC)


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Security Council Extends Mandate of African Union Mission in Somalia

Posted by African Press International on November 13, 2013

NEW YORK, November 13, 2013/African Press Organization (APO)/ – The Security Council today extended the mandate of the African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM) to 31 October 2014, requesting the African Union to increase the troop strength of that regional peacekeeping body from 17,731 to a maximum of 22,126 uniformed personnel as part of overall efforts to combat the increasingly asymmetrical tactics of Al-Shabaab rebels in the country.

Unanimously adopting resolution 2124 (2013) under the Charter’s Chapter VII, the 15-member body also expanded the logistical support package for AMISOM for a maximum of 22,126 uniformed personnel until 31 October 2014. It agreed with the Secretary-General that conditions in Somalia were not yet appropriate for the deployment of a United Nations peacekeeping operation, taking note of benchmarks for such efforts outlined in his 14 October letter (document S/2013/606).

By other terms, the Council underlined that increases in force strength were to provide enhancement of AMISOM’s military capacity for 18 to 24 months, and further, were part of the Mission’s overall exit strategy, after which a decrease in force strength would be considered. It agreed with the Secretary-General on the critical need for sourcing contingent-owned equipment, including force enablers and multipliers, either from existing AMISOM troop contributors or other States, citing the particular need for up to 12 military helicopters. It encouraged Member States to respond in that regard.

Further, the Council requested the Secretary-General to work with the African Union to improve by 1 January 2014 the strategic management of AMISOM by strengthening command and control structures, the coordination of contingents, joint operations with the Somali National Army (SNA) and information management.

As for Somali institutions, the Council requested the United Nations Support Office for AMISOM to provide – as exceptional support — food, water, fuel, transport, tents and “in-theatre” medical evacuation to front-line units of the Somali National Army, the funding for which would be provided from an appropriate United Nations trust fund.

Regarding United Nations personnel, the Council took note of the Secretary-General’s intention to deploy a guard force to strengthen security at the United Nations Assistance Mission in Somalia (UNSOM). It requested details on its deployment “as soon as possible” and emphasized, in that context, the importance of AMISOM’s protection of Mogadishu International Airport Compound within the troop ceiling. On the political front, it urged increased collaboration among the African Union, United Nations and Somali Government towards a comprehensive approach to peace, security and development.

Speaking after adoption, the representative of the Russian Federation said he had voted in favour of the resolution to support African Union efforts in fostering settlement in Somalia, based on the key role that its mission had played in that regard. However, some of his Government’s concerns had not been borne in mind. He was seriously concerned by the wording in paragraph 21, which outlined the Somali Government’s requirement to provide full access to humanitarian organizations, which ran counter to the principles of humanitarian assistance.

He went on to say that the Federal Government was not in a position to control a significant part of the country and that humanitarian organizations were leaving Somalia not because they had been hindered by the Government, but rather, because of the security situation. In establishing humanitarian principles, the Council was getting into an area not covered by its remit — standard setting, which was covered by the General Assembly. Therefore, he did not consider the wording in paragraph 21 as setting a precedent.

The representative of Somalia said that, over the last year, the important parts of his country’s six-pillar policy had been implemented. While the Council had “sustained” Somalia for a long time, there was now a light at the end of the tunnel. Its partnership in support of critical priorities was at a turning point. Indeed, the Council had noted the achievements of AMISOM to liberate Somalia from the scourge of Al-Shabaab, as well as the assistance and training that had enabled his Government to liberate the residual components of that group.

He went on to express hope that the Somali Army contingent fighting with AMISOM to defeat Al-Shabaab would be supported in a more consistent and timely manner by the United Nations, raising questions over when resources from the United Nations trust fund would arrive. AMISOM had been given 18 to 24 months to complete its mandate and he wondered if the trust fund would allow Somali armed forces to liberate the country in enough time for preparations for elections in 2015-2016 to proceed. All means should be applied to ensure those funds arrived as soon as possible. “Otherwise it will be a disaster for Somalia once again,” he cautioned.

The meeting began at 10:10 a.m. and ended at 10:25 a.m.


The full text of resolution 2124 (2013) reads as follows:

“The Security Council,

“Recalling its previous resolutions on the situation in Somalia, in particular resolutions 2036 (2012), 2093 (2013) and 2111 (2013), and statements of its President on the situation in Somalia,

“Reaffirming its respect for the sovereignty, territorial integrity, political independence and unity of Somalia, and reiterating its commitment to a comprehensive and lasting settlement of the situation in Somalia,

“Taking note of the Joint African Union (AU)-United Nations Mission on the benchmarks for a United Nations Peacekeeping Operation in Somalia and their assessment of the African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM) and Somali National Security Forces, and underlining the importance it attaches to greater peace, prosperity and stability in Somalia,

“Taking note of the AU Peace and Security Council’s 10 October Communiqué on the Joint AU-United Nations Review of AMISOM and the benchmarking exercise, and welcoming in particular its call to all AU Member States to contribute financially to AMISOM,

“Welcoming the constructive manner in which both the Secretariat and the AU conducted the joint review,

“Underlining its gratitude for the work of AMISOM, in particular the extraordinary sacrifices made by AMISOM forces and personnel in pursuit of peace in Somalia,

“Welcoming the support of the international community to peace and stability in Somalia, in particular the European Union for its substantial contribution in supporting AMISOM, and emphasizing the importance of new contributors sharing the financial burden of supporting AMISOM,

“Noting with appreciation recent high-level events on Somalia which have generated substantial pledges of support, and underlining the importance of delivering on any support pledged at these events,

“Condemning recent Al-Shabaab attacks in Somalia and beyond, which serve to undermine the peace and reconciliation process in Somalia, and expressing its solidarity with the people and Governments of Somalia and the region,

“Expressing serious concern at the Secretary-General’s assessment in his

14 October letter to the Security Council that recent security gains against Al Shabaab are at serious risk of being reversed, and noting that the Somali National Army (SNA) and AMISOM have now assumed a more defensive posture,

“Noting the Secretary-General’s assessment that there is an urgent need to resume and strengthen the military campaign against Al Shabaab, which requires an enhancement of international support to the Somali National Security Forces and to AMISOM,

“Noting the Secretary-General’s assessment that a comprehensive strategy that includes political, economic and military components is needed to reduce the asymmetrical threat posed by Al-Shabaab,

“Acting under Chapter VII of the charter of the United Nations,


“1. Decides to authorize the Member States of the AU to maintain the deployment of AMISOM, as set out in paragraph 1 of resolution 2093 (2013), until 31 October 2014, which shall be authorized to take all necessary measures, in full compliance with its obligations under international humanitarian law and human rights law, and in full respect of the sovereignty, territorial integrity, political independence and unity of Somalia, to carry out its mandate;

“2. Agrees with the Secretary-General that conditions in Somalia are not yet appropriate for the deployment of a United Nations Peacekeeping Operation, takes note of the benchmarks for a United Nations Peacekeeping Operation as set out in the Secretary-General’s 14 October letter, and endorsed in the 11 October letter of the AU Commission Chairperson, and requests that the Secretary-General keeps progress against the benchmarks under continuous review, in consultation with the AU, and with a view to creating conducive conditions for the potential deployment of a United Nations Peacekeeping Operation and the hand-over of security responsibilities to national authorities;

“3. Requests the AU to increase AMISOM’s force strength from 17,731 to a maximum of 22,126 uniformed personnel as set out in the Secretary-General’s 14 October letter;

“4. Decides to expand the logistical support package for AMISOM, referred to in paragraph 4 of resolution 2093 (2013), for a maximum of 22,126 uniformed personnel until 31 October 2014, ensuring the accountability and transparency of expenditure of the United Nations funds as set out in paragraph 6 of resolution 1910 (2010), and consistent with the requirements of the Secretary-General’s Human Rights Due Diligence Policy;

“5. Underlines that, in line with the Joint United Nations-AU Review of AMISOM, the increases in the force strength decided in this resolution are to provide a short-term enhancement of AMISOM’s military capacity, for a period of 18 to 24 months and as part of an overall exit strategy for AMISOM, after which a decrease in AMISOM’s force strength will be considered;

“6. Agrees with the Secretary-General on the critical need for sourcing contingent owned equipment including force enablers and multipliers as provided for in paragraph 6 of resolution 2036 (2012) either from existing AMISOM Troop-Contributing Countries or other Member States, emphasizes in particular the need for an appropriate aviation component of up to twelve military helicopters, and encourages Member States to respond to AU efforts to mobilize such equipment;

“7. Reiterates paragraphs 5 of resolution 2093 (2013) regarding logistical support to AMISOM;

“8. Further reiterates paragraph 13 of resolution 2093 (2013) on the strengthening of women and children’s protection in AMISOM operations and activities;

“9. Requests the Secretary-General to work closely with the AU in order to support the implementation of this resolution, in particular by improving efficiency in the planning and strategic management of AMISOM, including strengthening command and control structures, the operational coordination of contingents, joint operations with the SNA, and information management, through a new Concept of Operations by 1 January 2014, with a view to enabling AMISOM to respond to the increasingly asymmetrical tactics used by Al-Shabaab, through an effective resumption of the military campaign against Al-Shabaab, which would rapidly reduce its capacity to control key strategic locations, and further requests the Secretary-General to continue to provide technical and expert advice to the AU in the planning, deployment and management of AMISOM through the United Nations office to the AU, and reiterates its request to the Secretary-General, in view of the substantial increases in AMISOM capabilities and support to the SNA, to enhance the provision of technical advice to the AU through existing United Nations mechanisms;

“10. Requests the AU to advance efforts to implement a system to address allegations of misconduct, which includes clear mechanisms for receiving and tracking allegations, as well as for following up with troop-contributing countries on the results of the investigations and disciplinary actions taken as applicable, and requests the United Nations to redouble its efforts to advise and provide guidance to the AU in this endeavour;

“11. Reiterates its request, and that of the AU Peace and Security Council, for AMISOM to develop further an effective approach to the protection of civilians, and stresses in particular the urgent need for AMISOM to establish and use a Civilian Casualty Tracking, Analysis and Response Cell, as requested in resolution 2093 (2013);

“12. Underlines the importance of AMISOM abiding by all requirements applicable to it under international human rights and humanitarian law, further underlines in particular the need for AMISOM to ensure that any detainees in their custody, including disengaged combatants, are treated in strict compliance with applicable obligations under international humanitarian law and human rights law, including ensuring their humane treatment and further requests AMISOM to allow appropriate access to detainees by a neutral body, and to establish Standard Operating Procedures for the handover of any detainees, including children, who come into their custody during a military operation;

“13. Reiterates its call for new donors to support AMISOM through the provision of additional funding for troop stipends, equipment, technical assistance and uncaveated funding for AMISOM to the United Nations Trust Fund for AMISOM, and underlines the AU’s call for their Member States to provide financial support to AMISOM;

Somali federal security institutions

“14. Takes note of the Secretary-General’s recommendation of the need to provide targeted support to front line units of the Somali National Army (SNA), requests UNSOA to support the SNA through the provision of food and water, fuel, transport, tents and in theatre medical evacuation, decides that this exceptional support shall be provided only for joint SNA operations with AMISOM and which are part of AMISOM’s overall Strategic Concept, further decides that funding for this support will be provided from an appropriate United Nations trust fund, and encourages Member States to make uncaveated contributions to the trust fund;

“15. Underlines that the support outlined in paragraph 14 of this resolution must be in full compliance with the United Nations Human Rights and Due Diligence Policy (HRDDP), further underlines its expectation that the Secretary-General will report on all UNSOA support to the SNA including on the implementation of the HRDDP, and also requests AMISOM to use its Civilian Casualties Tracking Analysis and Response cell as part of its reporting on joint AMISOM operations with the SNA;

“16. Underlines that all forces supported by UNSOA shall act in compliance with the Secretary-General’s Human Rights and Due Diligence Policy (HRDDP), and in that context further underlines its expectation that the Federal Government of Somalia will give its assurance to the Security Council, including in writing, that any Government forces being supported by UNSOA on joint operations with AMISOM will act in compliance with the HRDDP, and recalls the importance of training in this regard;

“17. Requests that to assist UNSOM to fulfil its mission, the Head of UNSOA shall keep the Special Representative of the Secretary-General informed on the implementation of the AMISOM support package, and further requests the Secretary-General to include this information in his regular reporting to the Security Council;

“18. Calls upon the Federal Government of Somalia to continue its efforts, with the support of the United Nations Assistance Mission in Somalia (UNSOM), AMISOM (in accordance with their respective mandates), and other international partners to strengthen the Somali National Security Forces including by mapping the structure of these forces, establishing clear command and control systems, implementing appropriate procedures, codes of conduct and training including to ensure the safe storage, registration, maintenance and distribution of military equipment and finalizing and implementing a national program for the treatment and handling of disengaged combatants and promoting respect for human rights, including through implementing the relevant Somali Government action plans on children and armed conflict;

“19. Further requests UNSOM, in accordance with its mandate, to continue to assist in the rebuilding of Somali security institutions, and reiterates in particular UNSOM’s role in providing strategic policy advice on security sector reform (SSR) and assisting the Federal Government of Somalia in coordinating international donor support on SSR;

“20. Requests UNSOM, working closely with the AU, to assist the Federal Government of Somalia in developing broad principles on the nature of policing in Somalia with a view to proposing further options to support the development of an effective police force in Somalia;

“21. Requests the Federal Government of Somalia to ensure the protection and well-being of all internally displaced persons, including from sexual violence and exploitation, paying particular attention to ensuring that the human rights of internally displaced persons in Somalia are respected in relation to relocations, and to ensure a fully consultative process, providing prior notice and ensuring safe, sanitary new sites that have basic services, as well as full, safe and unhindered access for humanitarian organizations;

Security of United Nations personnel

“22. Takes note of the Secretary-General’s intention to deploy an appropriate United Nations Static Guard unit to strengthen security at UNSOM compounds, looks forward to receiving further details of its deployment as outlined in the Secretary-General’s 14 October letter as soon as possible, and strongly emphasizes the importance of AMISOM’s protection of Mogadishu International Airport Compound within the troop ceiling authorized in this resolution;

Political process

“23. Urges increased collaboration between the AU, United Nations and Federal Government of Somalia, including on a comprehensive approach to peace, security and development which integrates political, security, peacebuilding and development activities, recognizing that none can succeed in isolation;

“24. Recalls its 13 September 2013 statement welcoming the agreement between the Federal Government of Somalia and the Interim Jubba Administration, emphasizes the importance of all parties ensuring that the timelines as stipulated in the agreement are met, and further emphasizes the importance of the Federal Government of Somalia ensuring the right political conditions are in place to ensure greater peace and stability in Somalia;

“25. Welcomes in this context the efforts undertaken by the Federal Government of Somalia to consolidate security and establish the rule of law in areas secured by AMISOM and the Security Forces of the Federal Government of Somalia, and encourages it to continue to lead an inclusive national dialogue, with the support of UNSOM, the Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD), and the AU to clarify and settle relations between the Federal government of Somalia and existing and emerging local administrations and initiate processes of national reconciliation in order to accelerate efforts to establish sustainable, legitimate and representative local governance structures across the country, especially in areas recovered from Al-Shabaab;

“26. Encourages the Federal Government of Somalia to finalize and adopt a federal Constitution by December 2015, to prepare for and hold credible elections in 2016; and to ensure the equitable participation of women, youth, minority groups and other marginalized groups in national political processes;

“27. Further encourages the Federal Government of Somalia to implement its “Vision 2016″ agenda which sets out the importance of a Somali-owned, inclusive, and transparent political process and economic recovery, consistent with the Provisional Constitution and including an effective federal political system and a comprehensive reconciliation process that brings about national cohesion and integration;


“28. Expresses concern at continuing violations of the Security Council charcoal ban requests the Secretary-General and his Special Representative to raise awareness amongst relevant Member States on their requirements to abide by the charcoal ban, as set out in resolution 2036 (2012);

“29. Underlines the importance of the Federal Government of Somalia and Member States complying with all aspects of the arms embargo, including the reporting and notification requirements set out in resolution 2111 (2013);


“30. Requests the Secretary-General to report on the implementation of all aspects of this resolution as part of his regular reporting to the Security Council on the situation in Somalia;

31. Decides to remain actively seized of the matter.”





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My journey in back home to Somalia after almost two decades in Kenya

Posted by African Press International on August 30, 2013

MOGADISHU,  – My journey back to Somalia, my home country, was a dream and a choice I always wanted to achieve. I wanted to live on the soil of my ancestors away from the congested refugee ca mps of Dadaab and far from the tall buildings of Nairobi that hosted me temporarily and offered me an opportunity to be a citizen in a second home where I grew up and studied peacefully. 
After almost two decades in Kenya, I finally decided to return to the country of my origin after getting an exciting opportunity to work with the Ministry of Education in order to bring hope to the next generation and give back my skills and knowledge to my community.

I arrived at Aden Ade International Airport in Mogadishu on 26 July, a Friday morning. Almost all the passengers in the plane I was travelling in were Somalis, mostly returning from abroad. The small airport and its facilities were very busy and chaotic. It was far from international standards – with all the signs of the wreckage of war and unfinished reconstruction under way.

I was driven by a colleague in a taxi through many checkpoints with heavily armed guards comprised of AMISOM [African Union Mission in Somalia] and Somali troops. We drove along the airport road, one of the city’s most dangerous, with heavily armed security personnel at frequent road blocks.

There was a high security alert. I was extremely scared and could not believe my eyes. I thought they were clearing up the aftermath of a fight in the city, but little did I know that this was the order of the day in Mogadishu.

That day was unique in particular because it was the 17th day of Ramadan, a day on which every year [militants] are known to carry out deadly attacks to commemorate one of the Islamic holy wars that took place on this day in history.

We turned onto another highway that was also very scary for newcomers like me, but normal for local residents. It is Maka Al-Mukarama road, known for nearly non-stop hooting vehicles – mainly small shuttle buses with overloaded passengers, some hanging onto the doors and windows while the conductor clings to the rear side as he shouts for more passengers.

“Stay calm, this is normal”

This road is also one of the busiest roads in Mogadishu; it directly connects State House and the airport. The traffic is hectic and it is controlled by traffic police, military and administration police. Gunshots, I was told, are used as “traffic lights” to disperse jams and as warning shots.

Surprised at my anxiety and restlessness, the driver said: “My friend, stay calm, this is normal.” I smiled to respond positively but did not say a word. I was speechless until we reached Taleh residential area.

This area was relatively calm. Residents were busy with their daily activities during the Ramadan fast.

I stayed indoors on advice from family and friends in Kenya. I was told to minimize my movement in the city and avoid crowded areas. However, I felt very insecure even inside my room because I was traumatized by the deafening sound of gunshots outside. I hear gunshots all day, like I hear the call to prayer, and it makes me sick.

I could not understand why there are all these gunshots in the streets. Then I recall the guys I saw along the airport road and the other young men in government uniforms hanging onto the sides of vehicles speeding up Maka Al Mukarama road all with firearms pointing at the pedestrians and other passing vehicles, their fingers on the trigger.

The following day was another unpleasant experience. The Turkish embassy was attacked. I could hear the blast not far from where I was staying. The thought of going back to Kenya came to my mind but it eventually faded away later that night when the commotion ended and I saw the story on TV.

Meanwhile, the locals are fully engaged in their day-to-day activities, indifferent to what is happening around them. Besides the gunshots, explosions and chaos, there are parallel constructions, business transactions and celebrations on the eve of the Eid festival after Ramadan.

Toy guns

One of the most striking things I saw at this time were all types of big toy guns displayed in the shops for children to play with during the Eid celebrations [marking the end of Ramadan]. On the actual Eid day, I saw children smartly dressed happily enjoying the day but with huge toy guns hanging on their shoulders, shooting one another typically as though they were on a battlefield. When you see the toy guns you will never understand… I was really disappointed how these innocent children are being brought up with such destructive weapons.

Is it because their parents are ignorant? What message does it portray? How will the fresh minds of these children be affected? What does it symbolize? I think we lost two generations already and the third one is growing in a world of lawlessness and ignorance. We have to do something about this and educate today’s parents and youth to save Somalia’s next generations.

Reporting for work

I reported to work the following week. I met new friends. The environment, the people and the job were all fresh and awesome. I felt very fortunate when I sat at a desk where the flag of Somalia flies right beside the computer, a reminder of my identity.

I was motivated to be part of a young, passionate team mostly from the diaspora who came to work with the Ministry of Education. We are specifically designated to work on a unique programme that was independently run by the Ministry, unlike other partner-led projects.

This was a project dubbed “Aada Dugsiyada” (Go to School Initiative) aimed at getting one million children into free and quality public schools by 2016. All the schools in the country are privately run so the challenge of starting the first free public schools after more than two decades of war lay ahead of us.

However, the feedback from all the people – including stakeholders, donors, local media and authorities – is overwhelmingly positive.

Running a whole government ministry that has not been functioning for over 20 years is a nightmare, and requires huge support both financially and in terms of dedicated professional human resources.

Standing firm

I did not understand what “failed state” really meant until I reached Mogadishu. To be honest, I only thought the term was used just to describe how much our country was damaged, but the true picture dawned on me when I explored the capital, where all government institutions are managed.

All the concerted efforts that were made to rebuild this country were focused on primarily handling the security, which still remains a stumbling block, thus leaving the gap for all other vital areas that a fully functioning nation with its dynamic society needs.

But, interestingly, how do you describe those people who have been courageously living in the midst of all these clashes, the devastation, droughts, famine and atrocious terror situations for decades and counting – yet have been standing firm to keep going with privately run business institutions, booming markets, private schools, social and economic development, while those in diaspora have been supporting them financially doing odd jobs in odd hours and facing the challenge of detention, discrimination and death for the same course.

I was really moved when I saw how the old Somali currency is being utilized in Mogadishu. In any business transaction, no one rejects the torn, ragged and spoilt ones because they fully know that there is no replacement or functioning central bank that regulates the money, so they are happy to keep going with what they have and make their lives easy.

I am, therefore, pleased to say that the Somali community to which I belong is exceptionally resilient, productive, hardworking, courageous, intelligent and determined. These are people who can reach beyond measurable heights in the 21st century if only our own political leaders and their foreign stakeholders act honestly in all their endeavours to stabilize Somalia for a better tomorrow.

mh/cb source



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What now for UNPOS and AMISOM in Somalia?

Posted by African Press International on May 17, 2013

NAIROBI,  – Following the unanimous adoption of a UN Security Council (UNSC) resolu tion setting up an integrated mission in Somalia, the UN Assistance Mission in Somalia (UNSOM) will be set up for an initial one-year period beginning on 3 June; it will be based in the capital Mogadishu

The UN defines an integrated mission as one in which there is a shared vision among all the UN actors at country level.“This strategic objective is the result of a deliberate effort by all elements of the UN system to achieve a shared understanding of the mandates and functions of the various elements of the UN presence at country level and to use this understanding to maximize UN effectiveness, efficiency, and impact in all aspects of its work,” say the Integrated Mission Planning Guidelines endorsed in 2006 by the Secretary-General.According to the resolution, the mission is intended to help Somalia build on the political gains made over the past year; assist the country to develop a federal system of government; review its constitution and hold a constitutional referendum; and facilitate preparations for presidential and parliamentary elections in 2016.

In addition, UNSOM will “promote respect for human rights and women’s empowerment, promote child protection, prevent conflict-related sexual and gender-based violence, and strengthen justice institutions.”

UN agencies working in Somalia are expected to move there. Many are currently based in Nairobi, the Kenyan capital.

In this briefing, IRIN looks at what an integrated approach means for Somalia.

What is the political, humanitarian situation in Somalia?

Somalia has recently made progress towards stability. In 2012, the country set up a functioning federal government under the leadership of President Sheikh Hassan Mohamud, the first such administration since 1990.

However, there continue to be huge political and humanitarian challenges. Insurgents, who still control parts of the country, continue to launch deadly attacks regularly, while more than one million Somalis are displaced due to conflict and drought. One million more have crossed into neighbouring countries, mainly Kenya and Ethiopia.

A 2013 report published by the UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) revealed that over 250,000 Somalis, many of them children under five, died as a result of famine between October 2010 and April 2012. They were unable to receive any humanitarian assistance, in part, due to insecurity.

What is UNSOM’s role?

On 6 March 2013 the Security Council had, while partially lifting a 20-year-old arms embargo on Somalia and extending the mandate of the African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM), for another year, agreed with the UN Secretary-General that the UN Political Office for Somalia (UNPOS) had “fulfilled its obligation” and needed to be replaced by an integrated mission to give the Somali administration “a single door to knock on”.

“It looks like an ambitious plan and is probably the most significant engagement in Somalia by the UN in decades,”

The new mission, to be headed by a special representative of the Secretary-General would include, “the provision of policy advice to the Federal Government and AMISOM on peace-building and state-building in the areas of governance, security sector reform and rule of law (including the disengagement of combatants); development of a federal system (including preparations for elections in 2016); and coordination of international donor support.”

All the UN country teams, both political and humanitarian in Somalia, would be expected, with immediate effect, to coordinate all their activities with the head of the newly established mission.

The office of the UN humanitarian coordinator for Somalia is expected to fall under the office of the special representative from the beginning January 2014.

What now for UNPOS and AMISOM?

With the creation of an integrated mission, UNPOS ceases to exist. Established in 1995 and headed by a special representative of the Secretary-General, UNPOS’s role was mainly political, facilitating political dialogue and peace-building activities. In his letter to the UNSC seeking the establishment of an integrated mission in Somalia, the Secretary-General said UNPOS had fulfilled its mandate and should “be dissolved and replaced by a new expanded special political mission as soon as possible”.

The Somalia Federal Government is largely propped up by the 18,000-strong AMISOM force.

A technical assistance mission to Somalia by the Secretary-General recommended in its report “use of local UN-contracted and trained security guards, the impending deployment of an AMISOM guard force in Mogadishu, and reliance on Somali National Security Forces (SNSF). If these are deemed insufficient, UN Guard Units or international private security companies could be utilized.”

AMISOM has always been involved in limited humanitarian assistance but it is not clear if this will continue with UNSOM.

The UNSC in its resolution, urges the newly appointed special representative to align closely with other stakeholders in Somalia, including UN country teams, the federal government, AMISOM, the Intergovernmental Authority for Development (IGAD), the European Union and “other regional, bilateral and multilateral partners”.

Experts, say the success of UNSOM will depend on whether it aligns its operations with the different actors in Somalia, some of whom may have qualms about sharing their areas of expertise and/or influence.

“The number of pivotal actors dealing with Somalia has increased as of late, not least as new donors have come in and stepped up their support. Hence, if the international community is serious about UNSOM and would like to see it fulfil its mandate, actors need to be aligned behind UNSOM,” Dominik Balthasar, an expert on Somalia at Chatham House, told IRIN. “Yet, this might possibly be a hard bullet to bite for other actors such as AMISOM or IGAD, as the participation of UNSOM is likely to restrict the roles they have played thus far.”

Abdi Aynte, executive director of the Heritage Institute for Policy Studies (HIPS), a Mogadishu-based think tank, said: “With respect to its relations with AMISOM, the hope is that they become mutually reinforcing [and] not mutually exclusive [since] AMISOM is widely viewed positively.”

What are the merits of UNSOM?

UNSOM will merge the UN’s humanitarian and political operations in Somalia, providing an opportunity to harness the operational capacities of the many agencies into a single mission.

“It looks like an ambitious plan and is probably the most significant engagement in Somalia by the UN in decades,” Cedric Barnes, director, Horn of Africa programmes at the International Crisis Group, told IRIN.

HIPS’s Aynte said the integrated mission will provide a single international community narrative on Somalia, something he says the Somalis have wanted for a long time.

A unification of the development and humanitarian pillars in Somalia, others have argued, would help marshal the much-needed international funding to remedy the situation in Somalia while also “creating coherence and unifying strategies”.

Elmi Ahmed Duale, Somalia’s ambassador to the UN, described the resolution as important and said it had ensured “there was only “one door” to knock on, “as opposed to fragmented approaches in coordinating assistance”.

According to ICG’s Barnes, this will be dependent on how much the government is willing to cede in the new engagement.

“It would be interesting to see how this will play out with a government that might want to assert authority while at the same time fronting the issue of sovereignty,” Barnes added.

The fact that Al Shabab is listed as a terrorist group has made it difficult for many humanitarian agencies to have an engagement with it, at least for the purposes of offering humanitarian assistance in areas still under the group’s control.

Why the dissenting voices against UNSOM?

Humanitarians have voiced their concerns against merging humanitarian operations with political and military activities, arguing it would make their work in Somalia difficult as it runs the risk of delegitimizing humanitarian actors.

“As many Somalis continue to struggle to obtain the basic necessities for survival, such as food, health care, and protection from violence, humanitarian assistance must remain a priority and it must remain completely independent of any political agenda,” Jerome Oberreit, secretary-general of Médecins Sans Frontières, said in a statement.

“The humanitarian aid system must not be co-opted as an implementing partner of counter-insurgency or stabilization efforts in Somalia,” he added.

In March, InterAction, The International Council of Voluntary Agencies (ICVA) and Voluntary Organizations in Cooperation in Emergencies (VOICE), said in a joint statement that the decision risked jeopardizing the delivery of impartial humanitarian assistance in the country: “By requiring UN humanitarian coordination to fall under the political mandate of the new UN peace-building mission in Somalia, the neutrality, impartiality and independence of humanitarian action will be compromised.”

Russel Geekie, public information officer at the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, Somalia office, said: “The integration should not hamper the delivery of aid. In its most recent resolution on Somalia (SC resolution 2102, which follows up on 2093), the Security Council reiterated that impartial, neutral and independent humanitarian assistance must be ensured, wherever those in need are.”

According Chatham House’s Balthasar, integrating humanitarian operations into the broader politico-military stabilization plans “runs the risk of constraining humanitarian space, but that this does not necessarily need to be the case. Moreover, it should not be forgotten that humanitarian aid has always been political and that it has frequently been instrumentalized by a wide variety of actors – not least by those who oppose the government.” With an eye towards the dynamics surrounding humanitarian space in Somalia, he added that ever since Al Shabab had been put on the back foot, humanitarian actors who had become accustomed to negotiating with the insurgents to deliver humanitarian aid lacked clarity over who was in control and how to safely deliver aid.

“Basically, the political situation on the ground appears to have become more, rather than less, complicated. In this situation, devising an integrated mission might not be the worst of all options for the sake of prioritizing stability and the establishment of functioning structures of governance,” he added.

ko/kr/oa/cb source

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