UK statement Security Council briefing on Somalia

Statement by Ambassador Barbara Woodward at the Security Council briefing on Somalia

Thank you, President.

Firstly, the United Kingdom is deeply concerned about the developments in Las Anod. Alongside partners, we have supported ceasefire negotiations between the parties and issued statements calling for restraint on all sides, dialogue, the protection of civilians and unfettered humanitarian access. We encourage all Council members to do likewise.

President, the problems in Las Anod are a reminder that we need to support Somalia to make progress on fundamental questions of power and resource sharing, including finalising the constitution. These are vital building blocks for long-term state-building and security.

President Hassan Sheikh has demonstrated commitment through the National Consultative Councils, bringing federal member state (FMS) leaders to the table to answer these questions. We should encourage and support Somalia’s leadership to translate agreements into tangible outcomes and to lock in incremental progress. This requires technical groundwork in advance of the meetings, and consultative mechanisms afterwards, to produce credible governance models and to be sustainable. These efforts must also include the full, equal and meaningful participation of women to embed their inclusion into future political processes. We must underline the importance of all FMS leaders engaging constructively.

Second, President, as we have heard the humanitarian crisis is entrenched and deteriorating. The fact that famine was averted in 2022 gives no ground for complacency. With drought forecast to continue in 2023, and over 227,000 people estimated to have been displaced in January alone, we must continue to work together to fund life-saving assistance, lift access restrictions and ensure aid reaches those who most need it.

Women and girls comprise 80% of those displaced by drought and displaced populations and are especially vulnerable to sexual violence. The UK’s joint programme with UNFPA responds to incidents of gender-based violence amongst newly displaced populations, reaching up to 34,800 women.

Finally, President, we commend the progress made by Somali security forces in the fight against al-Shabaab since President Hassan Sheikh’s election. There is indeed cause for optimism in the months ahead. We urge the UN to ensure an effective ATMIS benchmark assessment process and look forward to returning to this subject in March ahead of our deliberations in June.

Thank you.

La Xiriira

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