Remarks at UN High-Level Meeting on Somalia

Hillary Rodham Clinton
Secretary of State
United Nations
New York City
September 23, 2011

Thank you very much, Secretary General. Thanks also to African Union Chairman Ping and to Prime Minister Abdullahi for your remarks. And to all of our colleagues, I have to say I sit through a lot of these meetings, as we all do, but I thought the remarks from Kenya, Burundi, and Uganda were especially substantive, very helpful, and help us all to focus our attention on the decisions that have to be made.

And I also want to congratulate the Somali leaders and the international partners gathered today by signing the roadmap for ending the transition in Somalia. You have taken a crucial step toward building a stable, prosperous future for the Somali people. And we have an opportunity today because of the withdrawal of al-Shabaab forces from most parts of Mogadishu. That has created a welcome shift in momentum, and that allows the Transitional Federal Government an unexpected opportunity to show Somalis that you can deliver security and basic services and lay the foundation for a stable, funcitoning government. That is what we want to see for the people of Somalia.

The political instabilty, the limited rule of law, the security threats have tragically affected Somalis for many years, and today it has an added tragic consequence because it has prevented many Somalis from getting acess to aid during the drought and famine. Fully one-third of all Somalis are now displaced in their own country or in countries bordering Somalia. And I thank the bordering countries for their generosity and hospitality under very difficult circumstances.

But al-Shabaab’s efforts to block NGO access to the most vulnerable areas of Somalia and its limitations on the delivery of life-sustaining humanitarian assistance has exacerbated this crisis. As the famine persists and al-Shabaab continues to deny Somalis access to life-saving assistance, the TFG and the international community have to work even harder together.

The U.S. has provided more than $600 million in this crisis response, including approximately 102 million directly for Somalia to increase access to clean water, sanitation, heath, and of course, food. And I am pleased that the United States today will be contributing an additional $42 million for the region with $30 million specifically for the people of Somalia.

But we have to send a message to al-Shabaab. And we and all of our partners, including the Arab League and the OIC, must continue to call on al-Shabaab to allow unfettered access. I honestly do not understand what is in it for them, what possible ideological or political motive can compel them to see women and children die because they cannot get access to help.

But it’s not only that we as the international community have an obligation to assist in this crisis. We have an obligation to support Somali efforts to develop a politically stable government. And I am encouraged that such a broad range of partners has comitted to fulfill the goals of the roadmap and its four prioirty tasks to be accomplished by August. These are ambitious but necessary goals.

By securing Mogadishu, we can create the conditions for the TFG and other international actors to improvide basic services. So I join in the request that I already heard to help strengthen and expand the number of AMISOM troops on the ground within the current mandate and to purchase equipment and uniforms and support training.

Secondly, we want to put the process toward a constitution to protect the rights of all Somalis, a timelie for parliamentary reforms and credible elections for the president and speaker of the parliament in August 2012.

Third, we will continue to call for all Somalis to renounce violence, lay down their arms, and to continue this good work with regional leaders to try to create a culture in which such violence is not tolerated.

And finally, we wish to assist in promoting better goverance by fighting corruption and increasing transparency that in turn will give Somali people confidence in their officials and public institutions.

I think it’s important that we be absolutely clear. Somalis have suffered for too long. And we see the success of those Somalis who have been forced out of their homes who are living in countries around this table. They are doctors and nurses. They are business leaders. They are hard-working people. We are proud to have many Somali Americans in the United States.

But they have a right to have a country that is safe and secure and where they can have opportunities for themselves and their children. Time may be running out. If we don’t do this right now, given the fact that AMISOM has been successful in opening up the space in Mogadishu, if Somali leaders do not follow the roadmap that has been negotiated by Africans for Africans, then I don’t know that the international community will be here next year and the year after with support. It is now up to Somalis. We have created the space. It’s not been easy. And as the secretary general has said, many, many Somalis, but also soldiers from Burundi and Uganda and elsewhere have died to give the Somali people this opportunity.

So there’s a lot of hard work ahead of us, but we can build a stable, legitimate government that delivers for its people. And the United States stands ready to support in achieving that goal. Thank you. (Applause.)

PRN: 2011/1592