Cablegate: Somalia - Internationals and Somalis Meet On Humanitarian,

DE RUEHNR #2232/01 2661407
R 221407Z SEP 08




E.O. 12958: N/A
SUBJECT: Somalia - Internationals and Somalis Meet on Humanitarian,
Security Situation

REF: Nairobi 2182

NAIROBI 00002232 001.2 OF 002

1) SUMMARY: The International Contact Group (ICG) for Somalia met on
September 17 in Djibouti on the eve of a second round of talks
between the Transitional Federal Government (TFG) and Alliance for
the Re-Liberation of Somalia (ARS). Both the Somali Prime Minister
and opposition leader addressed the ICG, promising to make concrete
progress on implementing the June 9 Djibouti peace agreement, to
expand humanitarian access, and to combat piracy. ICG internal
discussions centered on the Somalis' capacity to implement a cease
fire, the worsening humanitarian situation, and progress on
instituting the Transitional Federal Charter. END SUMMARY.

2. On September 17 members of the International Contact Group for
Somalia (ICG) met in Djibouti to discuss the political, security and
humanitarian situation in Somalia (reftel). The meeting took place
on the eve of the second round of talks between the Joint High Level
and Security Committees. It was the first meeting under the
auspices of the SRSG who assumed the ICG mantle from the co-founders
United States and Norway following the April Oslo meeting.
Participants included the UN, African Union, European Commission,
European Union Council Secretariat, Presidency of European Union
(France), IGAD, League of Arab States, Organization of Islamic
Conference, World Bank, Canada, Djibouti, Egypt, Ethiopia, Italy,
Kenya, Norway, Sweden, United Kingdom, United States. The ICG asked
TFG Prime Minister Nur Hassan Hussein and Deputy Prime Minister
Ahmed Abdisalam Adan, and ARS leaders Sheikh Sharif Sheikh Ahmed and
Sharif Hassan Sheikh Aden to address the ICG as one entity, behind a
single "Somalia" nameplate. The significance of this was not lost
on the gathering; earlier this year the ARS and TFG had refused to
meet face to face.

3. After the Special Representative of the Secretary General (SRSG)
Ahmed Ould-Abdullah and the Djiboutian Foreign Minister opened the
meeting, Prime Minister Hussein made remarks. He acknowledged the
Somali people, as well as the international community, were
frustrated by lack of progress on the Djibouti Agreement's
implementation. Nevertheless, he was determined that future Joint
High Level and Security Committee meetings will be held in Somalia.
The PM praised French actions against pirates (Note: That morning
French Special Forces had rescued two French hostages and captured
or killed the pirates holding them. End Note.) He asked for the
international community to continue escorting World Food Programme
sea shipments to Somalia (Note: Canada will provide escorts until
the end of September. End Note.) (Comment: The PM's remarks,
which he read in English, were rambling and disorganized. Several
times he lost his place, then repeated himself. End Comment.)

4. By contrast, Sheikh Sharif's remarks were concise and well
delivered. Speaking through a translator, Sharif specifically
thanked the SRSG and the United States for their support. He said
this week he will work for a joint TFG-ARS humanitarian committee to
protect aid officials and assist food deliveries. He also called
for joint action on policing, a cease-fire, and piracy. In
conclusion, he noted that spoilers would try to exploit the
Agreement's setbacks, but with international and Somali cooperation,
the Agreement would succeed. Following the opening session which
also included remarks from former ICG co-chairs Norway and USA, the
TFG and ARS delegations withdrew.

5. AU Special Representative for Somalia, Bwakira, assessed that
the security situation was worsening, and unconventional attacks
were increasing, both on AU forces and civilians. The ARS, the AU
maintained, recognized that a precipitous Ethiopian withdrawal would
cause a vacuum. In discussions on the margins, ARS military
officials confirmed to poloff they appreciated the need for a
scheduled, phased withdrawal. The Arab League and Egypt expressed
concern that the ARS lacks command and control of sufficient forces
to effect a ceasefire; the SRSG said the ICG should help the ARS
leaders go with confidence and be visible in Mogadishu. Ethiopian
Ambassador to Djibouti explained that the GOE has done everything
they could to provide stability, but a strong UN force should enter
Somalia as soon as possible. The French delegate, as EU Presidency,
told the ICG military patrols and interdictions could tamp down
piracy. He also urged investigating piracy under the UN's Somalia
arms embargo, and seizing assets, including ransom money. The
Kenyan delegation offered to host and train Somali security forces
if the international community will provide funding.


NAIROBI 00002232 002.2 OF 002

Humanitarian Situation

6. Mark Bowden, UN Resident Humanitarian Coordinator reminded the
ICG that the humanitarian situation is dire and worsening. A
massive food crisis is affecting 3.2 million Somalis, and expanding
from south and central Somalia to the northern regions of Puntland
and Somaliland. Twice as much food aid has been distributed this
year than last. Food prices have increased by 200 to 700 percent
this year due to inflation, drought, and conflict. Violence has
displaced 1.1 million Somalis, leaving them vulnerable to shortages
of food, water, and essential services. Soup kitchens are feeding
80,000 Somalis per day in Mogadishu. Shrinking humanitarian access
to the needy and problems monitoring the delivery of food are
compounding the crisis.

Development Update

7. UN Development Program for Somalia Country Director Bruno
Lemarquis announced the UNDP and Somali Central Bank had developed a
new, accountable system for paying stipends to civil servants and
other government officials. (Note: after the July murder of UNDP's
Mogadishu Head of Office, the UNDP evacuated the city and suspended
stipends to government officials due to lack of oversight. End
Note.) The new payment system opens the door to pay stipends to
over 2,000 newly trained police who've gone without salaries for
months. Lemarquis also noted some progress on transitional charter
tasks. Drafting committees had produced an outline for a new
constitution, and the ARS would be joining the committees to give
input. The ICG agreed that Sweden and Italy would spearhead
planning for reconstruction and development conferences for early
2009 to meet the Djibouti Agreement commitment.

8. COMMENT: AS Contact group meetings go, this was fairly
unremarkable except that it was SRSG's first Chairing and that it
was on eve of TFG/ARS Meetings under Djibouti Agreement and meant to
give them a good launch. Despite onerous wrangling on the wording
of an over-long Communique, the presence of the International
Community did seem to energize and focus the delegations even though
their meetings fell just short of the desired Cesase Fire


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