New York, US - The Special Representative of the UN Secretary-General in Somalia, Mr. Nicholas Kay, says the best hope for peace and stability in the country, the Horn of Africa and beyond remains a united, secure and federal Somalia.
Mr. Kay, who made this known while briefing the UN Security Council on the situation in Somalia, warned that after a series of attacks against high-profile targets in Mogadishu, insecurity in the capital city posed challenges for Somalis and their international partners.
He stated: '2014 is a crucial year, marked by security and political challenges, which will be overcome if the Federal Government of Somalia and international partners remain united and if both accelerate delivery of their mutual commitments.'
He stressed the need for continued support from donors and other stockholders to ensure peace, security and stability in the country.
According to him: 'Progress in Somalia has been mixed so far, but it is progress. National reconciliation, federalism, the conclusion of the constitutional process and the rebuilding of security institutions are critical.'
The envoy noted that security remained a vital concern, particularly in Mogadishu, where the situation had deteriorated as insurgents carried out often complex suicide attacks against several targets, including a UN convoy, the Presidential compound and the National Intelligence headquarters, all in the month of February.
'The risk of further attacks against Somali Government and international targets remains high,' Mr. Kay warned.
He added that the African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM) and the Somali National Army (SNA) were pursuing a renewed offensive against Al Shabaab insurgents, who in 2011 were forced to retreat from the capital.
'This new offensive will be the most significant and geographically extensive military advance since AMISOM was created in 2007,' he noted, highlighting the UN’s role through its support office for AMISOM (UNSOA) in stockpiling food, fuel and water ahead of the operations.
The envoy disclosed that UNSOA, along with UN Somali Mission in Somalia (UNSOM), has also supported training the army in human rights, international humanitarian and refugee law, in accordance with Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon’s Human Rights Due Diligence Policy.
'Despite the obvious importance of greater security, the political dimension of state-building and peace-building is equally vital this year.'
He also said the Federal Government was finalizing a detailed plan and timetable for a process leading to the formation of Federal States, a final Constitution and democratisation by 2016.
'This formation of Federal States needs to be accelerated', the envoy said, noting the positive steps towards political cooperation in Jubaland and in Puntland.
Among other issues raised in his briefing, Mr. Kay noted that a change in immigration policy in Saudi Arabia forced back more than 22,000 Somalis with an additional 33,000 people expected to return in the next three months.
He added that the influx into Mogadishu could exacerbate the plight of the internally displaced in the country, which, at 1 million people, were part of the largest and most complex humanitarian crisis in the world.
After decades of factional fighting, new Somali Government institutions emerged last year, as the country ended a transitional phase toward setting up a permanent, democratically-elected government under President Hassan Sheikh Mohamud.