New York (Caasimada Online) – In the face of mounting threats from climate crises, spates of violence, and the ever-present specter of terrorism, Somalia is reaching a critical juncture.
United Nations officials alerted the Security Council that addressing these threats requires an intensified effort and more significant funding, particularly considering the impending food crisis.
According to Catriona Laing, the UN Secretary-General’s Special Representative for Somalia, the nation has made significant strides in combating terrorism and furthering electoral processes.
Despite this, the country continues to face severe challenges and threats. As the head of the UN Assistance Mission in Somalia (UNSOM), Ms. Laing urged international partners to offer additional support to the Somali people.
The security situation is worrisome, particularly in Laascaanood, the capital of the long-disputed Sool region between “Somaliland” and Puntland.
The conflict between the “Somaliland” forces and the local Dhulbahante clan militia has led to substantial casualties, infrastructural damage, and civilian displacement.
The humanitarian cost of conflict
Ms. Laing reported 308 civilian casualties to date, with 36 people killed and 272 injured.
Despite commending the efforts by all parties and the Security Council towards achieving a ceasefire, she admitted that the path to peace remained fraught.
In a worrying statistic, she revealed that the first three months of 2023 saw the highest number of improvised explosive device attacks since 2017.
Simultaneously, there has been a resurgence of deadly terrorist attacks, pointing to the Pearl Beach Hotel incident in June as a stark example.
Highlighting recent positive political developments, Ms. Laing noted the Somali government’s notable progress in crucial national areas.
The fight against terrorism, spearheaded by the government, has successfully dislodged terrorist groups from some parts of the country.
Despite this, she cautioned that Al Shabaab remained a considerable threat.
She stressed the need for sustained security, essential services, reconciliation, and long-term political and state-building processes in regions recovered from the terrorist group.
Looking forward, Ms. Laing laid out the priorities for the remainder of 2023. These include a leading role for UNSOM in rallying the international community’s efforts to stabilize the country, support the state-building process, and resolve the conflict in Laascaanood.
Humanitarian crisis and climate threats
The humanitarian situation in Somalia remains precarious, despite improved security from the ongoing operation against Al-Shabaab.
From January to March, 430,000 people were displaced by violence, and 580,000 individuals live in areas controlled by non-state armed actors.
Climate shocks and a lack of political, peace, and security representation for women add to the crisis.
Pointing to Somalia’s failure to ensure a 30 percent quota of women in federal elections, Ms. Laing emphasized, “Their representation needs to be codified.”
Cindy McCain, the Executive Director of the World Food Programme (WFP), outlined the toll of violence and instability on the country’s infrastructure.
She stressed the urgent need to prevent a backslide into famine-like conditions that Somalia narrowly avoided in 2022.
“The international community saw the warning signs flashing red and raced to respond,” she said, “But now we are in danger of losing the precious gains we have made since those dark days last year.”
Confronting the challenge
McCain called for collective efforts to ensure safe aid deliveries, spearheaded by the Security Council, to secure unimpeded humanitarian access to all vulnerable communities in Somalia.
She advocated coupling food assistance with investments to rebuild livelihoods, strengthen resilience, and support climate adaptation programs.
She also urged Member States to contribute to the country’s underfunded humanitarian response plan.
WFP has already had to cut back on its assistance programs, a move she described as a last resort.
“We all have to work together to find political solutions to create stability and peace in Somalia,” McCain said. “This is what the exhausted people of Somalia want and need, above all.”