Thank you Madam President,
Somalia is indeed experiencing important changes at several levels. We fully subscribe the Secretary-General’s assessment that it is time to take advantage of the existing "window of opportunity" in three different but interlinked dimensions: security, humanitarian and political. Therefore, I start by thanking you for conveying today’s debate, bringing together key partners to exchange views at this critical juncture for Somalia, and for your important statement.
Allow me to greet and thank the Ministers of Azerbaijan, Kenya and Uganda for their very useful contributions to our debate, and also thank Under Secretary-General Pascoe and Commissioner Lamamra for their very comprehensive briefings.
Portugal shares the assessment that it is essential to consolidate the gains made on the ground, both in Mogadishu and elsewhere in the country, by ensuring the delivery of basic services to the population, promoting good governance and safeguarding peace and security in Somalia. By doing so, the efforts and sacrifices of AMISOM, regional partners and of the Somali Security Forces, all of which we commend, will also be honored.
Safeguarding peace and security is a task to be fulfilled, in the first instance, by the Somali military and police forces. This is an objective to which we will continue to contribute, namely through the EU’s training mission in Somalia. Nevertheless, AMISOM has played and will continue to play a crucial role, supporting and protecting the Transitional Federal Institutions. We reiterate our support to the Mission and look forward to the Secretary-General’s report, in light of the recent recommendations of the African Union Peace and Security Council for AMISOM’s future operations.
At the same time, Portugal believes that the acceleration of the deployment of additional troops would positively contribute to fill the security vacuum created in the areas liberated from Al-Shabaab’s presence. In this regard, we express our appreciation to Burundi and Uganda for their willingness to deploy additional troops to reach the currently UN-authorized strength of 12,000 troops, and we pay tribute to the courage and sacrifice of their soldiers.
We also take this opportunity to acknowledge the efforts so far made by all partners involved in military action to minimize the negative impact of military intervention on Somali civilians, and we encourage them to continue to do so, as well as to promote the safety and welfare of civilians fleeing conflict and the food crisis in the country.
Despite the positive trend, Al-Shabaab attacks, which are still a reality, along with continuing famine throughout the country and the piracy off the coast of Somalia, highlight the importance of ensuring a successful implementation of the Roadmap, as military action alone will not create lasting peace in Somalia.
Within the framework of the Kampala Accord and the Roadmap to end the transition in Somalia, some progress has been achieved, the most recent being the holding of the Garowe Constitutional Conference. However, many challenges still lay ahead. We call on the signatories of the Kampala Accord to ensure cohesion, unity and focus on the completion of the priority tasks so that the transitional period may, indeed, come to an end in August. Like Portugal has stated before, it is also of paramount importance to ensure inclusiveness and representativeness throughout that process, and we recall to this end the constructive role women can play in this context, as well ensuring full respect for human rights.
On the humanitarian front, we remain deeply concerned over the prolonged nature of the crisis and with the famine that continues throughout the country. We are, nevertheless, encouraged by the enduring efforts on the ground being made by all the humanitarian partners, against a background of very challenging conditions. However, assistance will only be fruitful if it reaches those in need in a timely way. To this end, we urge all parties to ensure full and unhindered access for humanitarian aid across Somalia.
The Secretary-General’s visit to Somalia was an unequivocal sign of the political commitment of the international community to the country and its people. We call on the Somali parties to continue to closely pursue the path towards peace and stability.
On her part, Portugal will continue her efforts, within the different fora, to help defining a strategy that comprehensively addresses the multiple challenges Somalia faces at political, security, humanitarian, human rights and socio-economic levels. In this context, we welcome the upcoming London Conference.
In concluding, let me also extend a word of appreciation to the work carried out by the Secretary General’s Special Representative, Mr. Mahiga, and the African Union and other regional partners’ commitment in making the current moment, like Mr. Ban Ki-Moon underlined last month, “a moment of fresh opportunities for the future of the Somali people”.
I thank you.