The Security Council today extended the mandate of the African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM) to 31 October 2014, requesting the African Union to increase the troop strength of that regional peacekeeping body from 17,731 to a maximum of 22,126 uniformed personnel as part of overall efforts to combat the increasingly asymmetrical tactics of Al-Shabaab rebels in the country.
Unanimously adopting resolution 2124 (2013) under the Charter’s Chapter VII, the 15-member body also expanded the logistical support package for AMISOM for a maximum of 22,126 uniformed personnel until 31 October 2014. It agreed with the Secretary-General that conditions in Somalia were not yet appropriate for the deployment of a United Nations peacekeeping operation, taking note of benchmarks for such efforts outlined in his 14 October letter (document S/2013/606).
By other terms, the Council underlined that increases in force strength were to provide enhancement of AMISOM’s military capacity for 18 to 24 months, and further, were part of the Mission’s overall exit strategy, after which a decrease in force strength would be considered. It agreed with the Secretary-General on the critical need for sourcing contingent-owned equipment, including force enablers and multipliers, either from existing AMISOM troop contributors or other States, citing the particular need for up to 12 military helicopters. It encouraged Member States to respond in that regard.
Further, the Council requested the Secretary-General to work with the African Union to improve by 1 January 2014 the strategic management of AMISOM by strengthening command and control structures, the coordination of contingents, joint operations with the Somali National Army (SNA) and information management.
As for Somali institutions, the Council requested the United Nations Support Office for AMISOM to provide – as exceptional support — food, water, fuel, transport, tents and “in-theatre” medical evacuation to front-line units of the Somali National Army, the funding for which would be provided from an appropriate United Nations trust fund.
Regarding United Nations personnel, the Council took note of the Secretary-General’s intention to deploy a guard force to strengthen security at the United Nations Assistance Mission in Somalia (UNSOM). It requested details on its deployment “as soon as possible” and emphasized, in that context, the importance of AMISOM’s protection of Mogadishu International Airport Compound within the troop ceiling. On the political front, it urged increased collaboration among the African Union, United Nations and Somali Government towards a comprehensive approach to peace, security and development.
Speaking after adoption, the representative of the Russian Federation said he had voted in favour of the resolution to support African Union efforts in fostering settlement in Somalia, based on the key role that its mission had played in that regard. However, some of his Government’s concerns had not been borne in mind. He was seriously concerned by the wording in paragraph 21, which outlined the Somali Government’s requirement to provide full access to humanitarian organizations, which ran counter to the principles of humanitarian assistance.
He went on to say that the Federal Government was not in a position to control a significant part of the country and that humanitarian organizations were leaving Somalia not because they had been hindered by the Government, but rather, because of the security situation. In establishing humanitarian principles, the Council was getting into an area not covered by its remit — standard setting, which was covered by the General Assembly. Therefore, he did not consider the wording in paragraph 21 as setting a precedent.
The representative of Somalia said that, over the last year, the important parts of his country’s six-pillar policy had been implemented. While the Council had “sustained” Somalia for a long time, there was now a light at the end of the tunnel. Its partnership in support of critical priorities was at a turning point. Indeed, the Council had noted the achievements of AMISOM to liberate Somalia from the scourge of Al-Shabaab, as well as the assistance and training that had enabled his Government to liberate the residual components of that group.
He went on to express hope that the Somali Army contingent fighting with AMISOM to defeat Al-Shabaab would be supported in a more consistent and timely manner by the United Nations, raising questions over when resources from the United Nations trust fund would arrive. AMISOM had been given 18 to 24 months to complete its mandate and he wondered if the trust fund would allow Somali armed forces to liberate the country in enough time for preparations for elections in 2015-2016 to proceed. All means should be applied to ensure those funds arrived as soon as possible. “Otherwise it will be a disaster for Somalia once again,” he cautioned.