UN: UN official calls for strengthening UN Support Office in Somalia

New York, US (PANA) - The UN Support Office for the African Union Mission in Somalia (UNSOA) will need to be significantly strengthened, the UN Under Secretary-General for Field Support, Mr. Atul Khare, told the UN Security Council.

Mr. Khare, who addressed the Council on Thursday in New York, said that, with UNSOA being reprioritized around strategic objectives set by the UN Security Council and within areas of African Union operations with the Somali National Army, there was need to enhance its capacity and increase investment for the Support Office.

Laying out a series of proposals, he said such changes meant redefining the Support Office’s
clients as the African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM), the UN Assistance Mission in Somalia (UNSOM) and the Somalia National Army.

He also said medical support infrastructure would be extended on a limited basis to provide
medical evacuation assistance to the Somali National Police in areas where AMISOM operated.

The UN official noted that the UN Secretariat would do its part, while critical support would need to come from the Security Council, the UN General Assembly, UN member states and the African Union.

Mr. Khare disclosed that a three-month strategic review of the Support Office, from July to September, had found that its resources had not kept pace with the "dramatic expansion of its tasks", which now included support to both high-intensity military operations, as well as highly mobile political engagement in Somalia and beyond.

He also said the clients had grown from one to five, and the number of personnel it supported from 8,000 to 33,000 – all in an area that had expanded from 100 square kilometres to more than 400,000.

"UNSOA is working in a significantly non-permissive environment with the backdrop of the scourge of Al Shabaab, and a continuing humanitarian crisis," he explained.

The UN official recalled that fatalities in AMISOM last year exceeded the combined fatalities from malicious acts in all UN peacekeeping operations combined, and in the last 18 months, UN personnel and facilities had been attacked an average of once every 10 weeks.

According to him, "the logistical enabling environment is also weak, and is affected by insecurity in the major supply routes, where three quarters of all improvised explosive device attacks against AMISOM occur."

He, however, said that, while he was proud of what UNSOA has achieved with its comparatively small and restricted resource base, that has come at the expense of effective service delivery in critical areas of maintenance services, field defence supplies, tentage, mobility and construction.

"As such, future efforts would also be refocused on surge support to address critical gaps, strengthening human rights due diligence policy and sexual exploitation and abuse compliance, coordination and joint decision-making frameworks, and environmental stewardship.

"The Security Council would also need to strengthen the Support Office’s accountability framework, through a single, clear mandate focused on the delivery of support to, but operationally separate from its clients.

"That would require a stronger reporting relationship with the Council, a leadership function headed by an Assistant Secretary-General and a new name," he stated.

Mr. Khare also said that clear roles for the delivery of logistical support had been agreed with the African Union Mission, noting that the UN was encouraged by the AU's efforts to generate the enabling units authorized as part of AMISOM.

He said that, in parallel, UNSOA would support the establishment of those units in all sectors of the Union’s operations to support the opening of the main supply routes.

He also hoped to present proposals to the UN General Assembly for strengthening the Support Office, which would likely represent a US$60 million annual increase and a one-time cost of US$13 million in investment.

The UN official also said that he would send the UN Assistant Secretary-General for Field Support, Anthony Nathan Banbury, to Somalia from 18 to 20 October to follow up on the Security Council’s guidance.

During Mr. Banbury’s visit, he would also address the UN Support Office staff in Mogadishu on 19 October.
-0- PANA AA/VAO 15Oct2015

15 october 2015 15:28:30

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