Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon today welcomed over $200 million pledged to help the emergent Government in Somalia gain a security foothold in the faction-torn country by funding its nascent security forces and the peacekeeping efforts of the African Union (AU).
We have a unique opportunity to support leaders who have shown a commitment to building peace and rebuilding the Somali state, Mr. Ban said as he opened the donors` conference in Brussels under the joint auspices of the UN, the AU, European Union (EU) and the League of Arab States.
By opening the space for security, we open the door to a better life for Somalia`s people, he added, warning that the risks of not supporting the new government are too high and the costs of failure too enormous.
In total, pledges of $213 million were received by the days` end, surpassing the $166 million requested by the AU, of which $135 million was targeted to the AU Assistance Mission in Somalia (AMISOM) and $31 million for Somali security forces.
In January, the Security Council called on the Secretary-General to establish a Trust Fund to support AMISOM and to assist in the re-establishment, training and retention of military and police forces in the country, which has not had a functioning government since 1991.
In the same resolution, it asked Mr. Ban to draw up plans for a UN peacekeeping force to take over from AMISOM when conditions are ripe. In the resulting report, released yesterday, the Secretary-General recommended a phased approach that first relies on strengthening the AU force.
In his plea to donors today, Mr. Ban recognized that in the eyes of many in the international community, Somalia had become synonymous with hopelessness and lawlessness.
But the same could have been said not long ago about Sierra Leone or Liberia, he countered, maintaining that change can happen " but not on its own, requiring determined leadership and international partnership.
He said that despite the obstacles, the UN-supported Djibouti peace process had produced a broad-based Government which is reaching out to forge national reconciliation and making necessary concessions to broaden its base of support further.
We should give strong credit to the progress the new Government has made in two short months, he said. We should push open this window of opportunity.
Security support would help the Government establish its authority throughout the country and give it the space to rebuild state institutions, Mr. Ban said, adding that it would also help it to address the humanitarian emergency and to facilitate economic recovery.
In addition, he said, by helping the Government extend its authority, progress could be made against global challenges that emanate from lawless areas, such as piracy.
The equation is clear: more security on the ground will mean less piracy on the seas, he said.
The conference was attended by representatives of more than 60 countries and regional organizations including Somalia`s president, Sheikh Sharif Sheikh Ahmed, along with Javier Solana, EU High Representative; Amr Moussa, Secretary-General of the League of Arab States; and Ahmedou Ould-Abdallah, UN Special Representative for Somalia.
This evening, following the meeting, Mr. Ban thanked donors for what he called their generous contributions, and said that he is both hopeful and realistic about Somalia`s prospects: hopeful at the strong support and political will that has been shown, and realistic about the need for patience and constant commitment.
During the day today, Mr. Ban also met with AU Chairperson Jean Ping and Kenya`s Foreign Minister Moses Wetangula, among others.
After a breakfast with members of the European Commission, led by its President JosÃ© Manuel Barroso, Mr. Ban told the press that the group agreed that restoring security and stability to Somalia is vital to the success reconciliation efforts, to the fight against piracy and for the survival of the unity Government.
I stressed that despite the European Union`s support, much remains to be done, he said.
The Secretary-General`s week-long travel, which started in Trinidad and Tobago and continued through Switzerland, Malta and Belgium, ended this evening. He will be back at UN Headquarters tomorrow.