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Officials Highlight Ongoing Terrorist Threats And Dire Humanitarian Needs In Somalia

A UN Security Council meeting on Monday detailed Somalia’s “exacerbated” humanitarian needs in the face of climate shocks and ongoing Government efforts to counter the terrorist group, Al-Shabaab.

James Swan, head of the UN Assistance Mission in Somalia (UNSOM) briefed ambassadors noting that the Somali government is prioritising security and combating Al-Shabaab fighters on many fronts.

“For its part, Al-Shabaab remains determined to continue terrorist attacks with little regard for the loss of civilian life,” he said. “I condemn these terrorist attacks and extend my condolences to the families of those killed.”

Mr. Swan said that current AU Transition Mission in Somalia (ATMIS) forces are leaving the regions as part of a “planned transition of responsibilities to Somali security forces” with the help of the UN Support Office in Somalia (UNSOS).

He noted that 5,000 ATMIS troops have left Somalia since June 2023, and further reductions are planned over the coming weeks.

Humanitarian needs and climate change

Mr. Swan, who is also the acting Special Representative of the Secretary-General for Somalia, informed Council members that the humanitarian situation remains “dire.”

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More than 3.8 million people remain displaced and extreme weather, insecurity and disease outbreaks are all increasing demand for lifesaving support.

He said these challenges can be addressed through investments to reinforce the “longer-term resilience” of communities, infrastructure and the economy.

“At the current rate, the impact of climate change is outpacing our ability to support adaptation and humanitarian response,” he said.

Mr. Swan urged international partners to provide funding to meet humanitarian needs, as the 2024 Humanitarian Needs and Response Plan, which required $1.6 billion as of Sunday, is only 24 per cent funded.

Regional tensions

Also in his briefing, Mr. Swan noted tensions between Ethiopia and Somalia and urged both nations to resolve their differences peacefully.

“I encourage Somalia and Ethiopia to resolve this matter peacefully in accordance with these principles of sovereignty and territorial integrity as enshrined in the UN Charter and international law,” he said.

ATMIS activities

El-Amine Souef, head of the AU Transition Mission in Somalia (ATMIS), described ongoing counterterrorism operations.

He told ambassadors that Al-Shabaab remains resilient, pointing to recent attacks on Somali Security Forces (SSF) in the Galmudug region and on the ATMIS camp in Southwest state.

“The group still retain[s] the ability to conduct devastating attacks, including employing asymmetric tactics, and organising complex operations on civilians and security targets,” he said.

ATMIS’ Head said 2,000 troops will depart by the end of June 2024, and the remaining 2,000 at the end of September 2024, as part of the transition of security responsibility from ATMIS to the SSF.

Mr. Souef said he welcomes the transitions but noted that local leaders, communities and others expressed concern about the potential of “a need to secure strategic locations and strengthen territorial control” with an increased SSF.

He said in order establish lasting peace, security and development in Somalia beyond 2024, there needs to be a smooth and orderly transition as well as, “building capacity, strengthening security institutions, countering Al-Shabaab and securing critical infrastructures.”

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