Global Policy Forum

Update Report on Somalia


Security Council Report compiled an Update Report on Somalia in August. UN humanitarian agencies have also declared famine in two southern regions of Somalia, the most serious food insecurity situation in the world. The report highlights the key issues on the Security Council’s agenda, which include the effectiveness of the humanitarian response, its engagement with the Somali government and the use of sanctions in the most effective ways. The Security Council has renewed the mandate of the Monitoring Group on Somalia and Eritrea and the sanctions committee continues to impose targeted sanctions on members of Al-Shabaab. The consultative meeting of the Somali stakeholders will take place from 4 to 6 September.

August 8, 2011


Expected Council Action

On Wednesday 10 August the Council expects to be briefed by Augustine Mahiga, the Secretary-General’s Special Representative for Somalia. Mahiga is likely to cover progress on the implementation of the June Kampala Accord, preparations for the repeatedly postponed consultative meeting of Somali stakeholders (now scheduled in Mogadishu for 4-6 September) and the impact and implications of famine. Mahiga will brief by videoconference, in order to avoid leaving the region during this challenging period. The briefing is likely to be followed by consultations. At this time no Council decision is expected.

The mandate of the Council-authorised AU operation in Somalia, AMISOM, expires on 30 September.

Key Recent Developments

On 18 July the final report of the Monitoring Group on Somalia and Eritrea of the sanctions committee was released publicly. (The 417-page report had been circulated to Council members in June.) It provides detailed information regarding several security problems in the region. A large part focuses on Al–Shabaab, in particular its sources of funding. The report stated that Al-Shabaab has considerable economic strength in part because it was able to generate between $70 million to $100 million per year in revenue from taxation and extortion. The report also says that Eritrea provided considerable and multi-faceted assistance for Al-Shabaab.

On 29 July the Council, in resolution 2002, renewed the mandate of the Monitoring Group on Somalia and Eritrea for 12 months. In the resolution, the Council also signalled that non-local commerce via Al-Shabaab controlled ports was a threat to the peace, stability and security of Somalia and that individuals and entities engaged in such commerce could be designated as subject to targeted sanctions. (The southern port of Kismaayo has been a particularly important location for international trade.) The resolution further expanded criteria for targeted sanctions by stating that political and military leaders recruiting or using children in armed conflict, as well as individuals committing violations involving the targeting of civilians could be subject to targeted measures. In its preambular part, the resolution also highlighted the need for accountability on the part of the Transitional Federal Institutions (TFIs) and for the TFIs and international donors to be mutually accountable and transparent in the allocation of financial resources. The resolution also called for the end to the misappropriation of financial resources undermining the ability of local authorities to deliver services in Somalia.

In July, based on the malnutrition and mortality rates registered in Somalia, UN humanitarian agencies declared famine in two southern regions of the country, calling it the most serious food insecurity situation in the world. The crisis is caused by drought. But it has been severely exacerbated by difficulties in humanitarian access to Al-Shabaab held areas.  In June and July alone, the food crisis caused over 100,000 internally displaced persons (IDPs) from the most severely affected areas to flee to Mogadishu in search of food, water, shelter and other humanitarian assistance. Aid delivery in Mogadishu was severely affected by the fact that Al-Shabaab was in control of some key areas of the city. Refugee camps in neighbouring Ethiopia and Kenya have therefore experienced an extremely high surge in new arrivals.

On 25 July, the Council was briefed by Catherine Bragg, Assistant Secretary-General in the Office of the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) on the humanitarian situation in Somalia. It then issued a press statement that called on all UN member states to contribute to the humanitarian effort, “urged all parties to ensure full, safe and unhindered access for the timely delivery of humanitarian aid” and “urged all parties and armed groups to take appropriate steps to ensure the safety and security of humanitarian personnel and supplies.”

On 1 August OCHA’s head Valerie Amos warned that the famine was likely to spread to five or six more regions unless there was a massive increase in humanitarian response. Amos said that “tens of thousands of Somalis have already died and hundreds of thousands face starvation.” 

On 3 August, three more areas, including IDP settlements in parts of Mogadishu, were declared as full-fledged famine regions in Somalia.

Large parts of Somali territory continue to be held by Al-Shabaab, but as a result of the latest offensive undertaken in Mogadishu by AMISOM and forces of the Transitional Federal Government (TFG), the Islamist group retreated from the city on 6 August. The UN humanitarian agencies started deliveries to previously Al-Shabaab held areas.

The consultative meeting of the Somali stakeholders, most recently expected in mid-July, has been postponed again and is now set to take place soon after the end of Ramadan, from 4 to 6 September in Mogadishu. The meeting, to be facilitated by the UN, is likely to involve between 100 and 140 Somali actors from Mogadishu, Puntland and Galguduud. The consultative meeting is expected to result in the adoption and publication of the Road Map, currently being elaborated and discussed, for the implementation of the Kampala Accord.

Key Issues

Regarding the humanitarian catastrophe affecting Somalia, a key issue for the Council is whether it can play a role in enhancing the effectiveness of the humanitarian response, in particular in the context of the security challenges for humanitarian operations.

On the political dynamic in Somalia, an ongoing issue for the Council is how to enhance its engagement with the TFIs so as to complete the transitional process by the newly determined deadline of 20 August 2012.

Regarding sanctions, an issue for the Council will be to see how this tool could be used more effectively to manage the situation and to realise the political and humanitarian goals for Somalia.

Council Dynamics

The acute humanitarian crisis in Somalia is now a serious concern to all Council members.

On its approach to the political infighting among the Somali actors, in particular the TFIs, the Council achieved a high degree of consensus during the 25 May meeting in Nairobi. The travelling Council members conveyed a clear and unanimous message of demand for the different leaders to stop their infighting, to focus on implementing reforms and to cooperate with the Special Representative of the Secretary-General. The US and the UK have been particularly forceful in public statements on the matter.

Following the circulation of the report of the Monitoring Group, there appears to be enhanced interest in using sanctions more effectively as a tool for the management of the situation in Somalia, with some members advocating a more ongoing engagement on the implementation of the sanctions regime.

The UK is the lead country on Somalia in the Council and India chairs the sanctions committee.


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