(translation of statement made in French)
I should like at the outset to thank Under-Secretaries-General Lynn Pascoe and Susana Malcorra for their presentations, as well as our colleague the Permanent Representative of Somalia.
Two months ago almost to the day, the insurgents of Al-Shabaab and Hizbul Islam rejected the path of dialogue and launched a major offensive. This was and is aimed against the Transitional Federal Government, which has the support of the international community, and also against the positive political process that President Sherif is leading by calling upon all parties to join in the Djibouti process.
The fighting goes on, as recalled by Under-Secretary-General Pascoe, with its violence and suffering. The cost of the attacks is high, and the victims always the same: women, children and other vulnerable people. Two hundred thousand more people have had to leave Mogadishu — and some families had just recently returned. These latest victims are added to the 2 million people who are surviving in makeshift shelters and the more than 3 million who already rely on international assistance.
The conditions in which the humanitarian workers are operating have worsened even further. It must be recalled that last year more than 30 of them were killed. The same is true for journalists, who often give their lives to carry out their profession. The number of refugees in neighbouring countries is growing, in particular in Kenya, where the sites hosting them are overwhelmed. France joins the international community in firmly condemning the attacks and the violence.
We note with the greatest concern reports indicating that the insurgents are benefiting from reinforcements of extremist foreign fighters and the support of foreign Governments, specifically Eritrea, in the form of weapons, which is in violation of the arms embargo imposed by the Council.
France carefully noted the decisions taken at the African Union summit in Sirte and is prepared to continue to follow the path of sanctions against all those who jeopardize the Djibouti Agreements. In that respect, we look forward to the report the Security Council has requested from the Monitoring Group. As I cited the Djibouti Agreement, let me also underscore the very positive role played by Djibouti in dealing with crisis in Somalia, despite the challenges that country has faced since the June 2008 military attack against it by Eritrea.
The Transitional Federal Government is under attack, but it is resisting those continued attacks. The international community must continue to provide full political support and strengthen its technical and material assistance. The training of Somali security forces is key to building the country’s military capacity. For that reason France, as it pledged at the Brussels conference, will begin to train 500 Somalis this month in Djibouti.
European Union ministers meeting in Brussels have begun to consider how the Union could combine our initiative with a possible training mission under the European Security and Defence Policy.
Here, we wish to highlight the courage of AMISOM’s troops, in particular those from Uganda and Burundi, who are resolutely providing support to the Transitional Federal Government. We pay tribute to them at a time when they are regularly targeted by the insurgents.
The international community must provide firm support for the African force. In Sirte, the African Union decided to strengthen the number of troops deployed on the ground in order to reach the mandated goal of 8,000 troops requested by the Somali Government. We are pleased by and welcome that commitment. France has contributed to the training of four contingents for AMISOM. The European Union, which is the leading contributor to the United Nations budget and the leading financial partner of the African Union, including through the Peace Facility for Africa, provides resolute support to AMISOM. Here, I would endorse the statement that the Permanent Representative of Sweden will make shortly on behalf of the European Union.
The United Nations too has an important role to play to facilitate strengthening AMISOM. I thank Ms. Malcorra for her information on the United Nations logistical support package. More than ever before, we need to respond rapidly and in concrete ways to the most urgent operational needs of the African forces.
All of this makes action to fight piracy off the Somali coast even more necessary. Since the initial operations to protect World Food Programme (WFP) vessels launched by France in November 2007, the fight against piracy has grown in scope. The European Union, in launching Operation Atalanta, is playing a very active role in fighting piracy, protecting vulnerable shipping and providing security for the increasingly significant international aid shipments on which millions of Somalis depend. The money spent to keep the European Union naval forces afloat permits the transport of that aid. Those efforts are far from useless; here I would point out that WFP food shipments have quadrupled from 2007 to 2008. Those efforts must continue.
Just yesterday a Turkish ship was attacked by pirates off the Somali coast. It must be remembered that in the past two years French forces have arrested more than 200 pirates in the course of more than 80 maritime operations. For that reason, the European Union has extended the mandate of Operation Atalanta for one more year and is considering a full range of measures that will make it possible to take better account of the various dimensions of counter-piracy operations on the sea and on land. Here I stress the particular importance of capacity-building for States of the region so that they can try and imprison pirates who have been arrested. United Nations support will be crucial.
Because of the gravity of the situation, it is reasonable to give priority in this debate to short-term measures, while bearing in mind more long-term measures such as the fight against impunity, because the culture of impunity that prevails today in Somalia is a major hurdle to peace. There is also a need, once the situation allows, to resume political dialogue, without which there will be no lasting peace in Somalia. In that regard, let me commend the role of the Special Representative of the Secretary-General, Mr. Ahmedou Ould Abdallah, and assure him of France’s full support.
In conclusion, I would like to state my delegation’s support for the draft presidential statement prepared by the United Kingdom, for which I express my thanks.