Somalia is making definite progress thanks to the new federal government that embraces reforms, although daunting challenges remain, a UN official told the Security Council on Wednesday.
Since the peaceful transition of power almost a year ago, the new government led by President Mohamed Abdullahi Mohamed has been through a steep learning curve and has embraced reforms to bring job creation and conflict resolution, said Michael Keating, the UN secretary-general’s special representative for Somalia.
“It has crafted a commendable national agenda embracing financial reform, job creation, inclusive politics, conflict resolution and reform of the security sector.”
He also observed that the relationship between the federal government and states has stabilized following a period of tension. “The form and structure of Somalia’s federal system is still a matter of vigorous debate, but the renewed commitment of the federal government and federal member states to cooperate to address Somalia’s needs is essential in order to make progress on political, security and development priorities.”
But he warned that Somali politics remain turbulent. In December 2017, tensions were sharply raised by the violent arrest of a prominent opposition politician and the raid on the house of a leading member of parliament, he noted.
He also warned that corruption undermines reform efforts, limits the confidence and trust of Somalis in their leaders and institutions.
Keating stressed the need for all Somali actors to respect the rule of law and resist the use of violence against their political opponents. “Otherwise the risk is that the many positive developments underway will be overshadowed, and the government’s ability to implement its broad agenda and improve the lives of the population will be undermined.”
The scale of challenges facing the country are daunting, warned Keating.
Chronic poverty and persistent humanitarian needs cast an ominous shadow over the Horn of Africa country. The risk of famine still looms after four consecutive failed rainy seasons. The country needs 1.6 billion U.S. dollars in 2018 for humanitarian assistance targeting 6.2 million people, he said.
Malnutrition reached emergency levels in many parts of the country and is expected to rise. Drought and conflict have displaced more than 2 million people within the country, up to 1 million of them in the last 12 months, including many children and more than 80,000 pregnant women, he said.
On the security front, Keating said the African Union Mission in Somalia has been fundamental and has allowed space for political progress. But he warned that the mission cannot stay in the country indefinitely, and this will require the government, the United Nations, and other partners to help strengthen the Somali security sector.