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29 July 2009 - Security Council: Somalia - Statement by Mr. Jean-Pierre Lacroix, Deputy Permanent Representative of France to the United Nations

(translation of statement made in French)

At the outset, my delegation would like to thank Mr. Ould Abdallah, Special Representative of the Secretary-General, for his briefing, and Mr. Mohamed Abdullahi Omaar, Minister for Foreign Affairs of the Transitional Federal Government of Somalia, and Ambassador Lamamra, Commissioner for Peace and Security of the African Union, for their presentations.

First of all, I would like briefly to comment on the situation that has been described. As Minister Omaar pointed out, it is now clear that the radical groups cannot overthrow the Government militarily, but that they are continuing their attacks nevertheless and creating a very detrimental situation of insecurity and violence.

My delegation notes with concern that, since the attack of the rebel groups on 7 May, fighting is continuing in the countryside and in Mogadishu. The day before yesterday seven civilians were killed in the capital, Al-Shabaab fired a mortar at a parliament session, and foreign fighters continue to fight within the ranks of the fundamentalists. Of course, every day that the situation continues, the suffering of the population increases. Over 3 million people now depend on humanitarian aid, while the attacks launched by Al-Shabaab on United Nations agencies, which we strongly condemn, are hampering United Nations activity. Moreover, more and more people who have lost hope are trying to reach Yemen across the Gulf of Aden aboard smugglers’ boats. Since the beginning of the year, 30,000 people have succeeded and, unfortunately, 300 have died in that attempt.

In that context, as many speakers before me have said, the international community has a very important role to play in helping the Transitional Federal Government to change the situation in its favour. The promises made in April at the Brussels conference must be kept. I recall that the European Commission is to provide €60 million to the African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM) and €13 million to the Rule of Law and Security Programme. We have taken careful note of the information in the Secretary-General’s report (S/2009/373) on the logistic support package to AMISOM. It is of course essential that we give the soldiers our full support and remain mindful of their needs.

More specifically, my delegation has identified four tracks for action by the international community. First, extending concrete support to the Somali National Security Force is essential. This very morning, France began to train Somali troops, chosen by the Transitional Federal Government, in Djibouti. Djibouti, for its part, is doing the same. The European Union is considering the possibility of establishing a security force. At the most recent meeting of their General Affairs and External Relations Council, the ministers for foreign affairs of the European Union decided to send an exploratory mission to the region in August.

Secondly, it is vital that we maintain and strengthen our support to AMISOM, and my delegation pays tribute to the action of Uganda and Burundi in that regard. For its part, France contributed to establishing four of the AMISOM contingents that, in a recent sortie, demonstrated their ability to help the Transitional Federal Government not only to hold its positions, but to push back the extremist fighters. We welcome the prospect of the imminent deployment of a sixth battalion, provided by Burundi.

Thirdly, my delegation encourages the United Nations to continue, as it is bravely doing, its assistance activities, in spite of the dangers. The European Union has extended Operation Atalanta by a year. Counter-piracy operations are crucial, particularly to protect the World Food Programme convoys, and we would not underestimate the risk that the attacks may resume in strength once the weather is again favourable to the pirates. I recall that, at the most recent meeting of the General Affairs and External Relations Council, the European Union reiterated its willingness to develop a comprehensive approach towards Somalia in which the fight against piracy is an important component.

Lastly, I would like to underscore the importance of the political dialogue. The Transitional Federal Government signed a reconciliation agreement with the Ahlu Sunna Wal Jama’a group a month ago. I am delighted by the spirit of openness shown by Minister Omaar in his statement, and France encourages the Transitional Federal Government to continue in that direction.

I would now like to turn briefly to the issue of sanctions. France has begun to actively engage in the discussions taking place within the Somali sanctions committee. We are convinced that, under resolution 1844 (2008), the Security Council can provide a clear, realistic and effective response to the situation in the Horn of Africa. However, we must also take fully into account the border dispute between Djibouti and Eritrea.

In conclusion, I wish to reassure the Special Representative of the Secretary-General that we fully support his efforts and that, in this delicate situation, his role as coordinator of the activities of the United Nations and the international community is as necessary as ever. Naturally, we support the action of the African Union and welcome the involvement of the Intergovernmental Authority on Development.

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Organisation des Nations Unies Présidence de la République France Diplomatie La France à l'Office des Nations Unies à Genève Union Européenne Première réunion de l'ONU