Thank You, Madam President.
I join others in thanking the briefers for their insightful overviews, and I would also like to welcome the Foreign Minister of Somalia to today’s discussion.
Estonia is very concerned about the deteriorating security situation, and strongly condemns the violence that has taken place in Mogadishu. I call on all parties to exercise restraint and calm, as violence will only exacerbate the existing problems. It will only feed the growing grievances of Somali people, as well as open opportunities for terrorist groups and spoilers to exploit. The recent spike in Al-Shabaab activity is a stark reminder of how there is no room for error to let the political impasse to derail the progress we must continue to make.
Therefore, it is crucial for the Somali leaders to urgently come together, and put the interests of Somali people first. The leaders need to arrive at a broadly accepted understanding within the framework of 17 September Agreement, and hold the elections without further delays. I welcome the 16 February Agreement of the Technical Committee as a step in the right direction, and call on the leaders to act on it. Holding peaceful and inclusive elections is also important to renew the legitimacy of the Somali federal institutions. This is necessary not only to safeguard immediate stability in the country, but also for building long-term sustainable peace in Somalia.
In the upcoming elections, Estonia urges Somali authorities to implement the 30% female quota and ensure that marginalized groups, including youth, are included. I also call to protect freedom of expression and the press. Additionally, Estonia underlines the need to put in place measures and institutions to protect human rights. I reiterate the call to establish the Independent National Human Rights Commission, which has a key role to play in promoting and protecting human rights. The high level of conflict-related sexual violence remains very concerning. It is crucial to hold the perpetrators of sexual violence accountable. Therefore, I urge the Federal Government to take steps to protect women and girls from sexual and gender-based violence by enacting the 2018 Sexual Offence Bill. Estonia also calls for the implementation of conclusions of the Working Group on Children and Armed Conflict on Somalia.
In order to ensure that Somalia is making progress in its democratization process, I strongly support the development of an agreed pathway to one-person-one-vote elections in 2024/25. On this note, I would also highly support institutionalization of regular consultations between the Federal Government and Federal Member States so that they could be making progress on a number of state-building priorities.
Estonia is encouraged by the recent progress towards the security transition in Somalia, and we welcome the Independent Assessment as well as the updated Somali Transition Plan. This momentum must continue to build the stepping-stones necessary for Somalia to take full responsibility for its security by the end of 2023, as set out in the updated Somali Transition Plan. However, for this to happen, serious work and planning must commence already now. This includes, holding the force generation conference, and renewing AMISOM’s mandate to reflect the evolved situation on the ground.
I would also like to take this opportunity to pay tribute to the commitment and sacrifice of AMISOM forces in Somalia alongside courageous Somali forces to defeat Al-Shabaab.
Estonia is deeply concerned about the dire humanitarian situation, especially about the projection that the humanitarian situation is set to worsen this year. According to the recently issued Humanitarian Response Plan, 1.09 billion US dollars is required in 2021. I call on international community to provide the necessary funding to save lives in Somalia.
In conclusion, the coming months will be crucial for Somalia, and allow me to reiterate Estonia’s full support for the country and its people.