I would like to thank Special Representative Laing and African Union Special Representative Souef for their presentations and their work. I would also like to welcome the Representative of Somalia to this meeting.
At this pivotal time for Somalia's security transition, the country faces multidimensional and complex challenges. I would like to highlight three points:
First, as the Secretary-General points out in his report, Somalia is at the epicentre of climate change. The humanitarian situation remains dramatic and is likely to worsen as a result of rainfall linked to the El Niño phenomenon. The interdependent effects of conflict and climate change have displaced more than a million people over the past year, the majority of them women and children. Many regions are still struggling to recover from prolonged drought. In addition, more than a hundred thousand people will soon be affected by the second rainy season, while over a hundred IDP camps have already been flooded.
The informal group of experts on climate and security - co-chaired by the United Arab Emirates, Mozambique and Switzerland - recently discussed the impact of the floods and the potential consequences for UNSOM's mandate. In this respect, we welcome the initiative of the Somali Disaster Management Agency to convene a committee to enable better preparedness and crisis management for the expected floods. We also stress the importance of regional and sub-regional efforts. Finally, a section in future reports of the Secretary-General dedicated to the negative impacts of climate change on peace and security would facilitate analysis in this specific dimension.
Second, a coordinated, holistic and inclusive approach must guide stabilization and peace-building efforts. While it is important for Somalia to be able to take charge of its own security in the medium term, this transition must not be rushed, in order to avoid negative repercussions on the security and humanitarian situation on the ground. According to the recent independent stabilization assessment report, progress has been made towards this inclusive approach. Nevertheless, there are still worrying gaps in the involvement of women. In this respect, Switzerland supports various local partners, from Mogadishu to Hargeisa, in their efforts to empower women to participate in decision-making and to set up inclusive political processes. They are essential to the establishment of a stable democracy. Switzerland welcomes Somalia's intention to introduce a one-person-one-vote system. The change of system and the objective of synchronizing elections must not, however, be used as a pretext for postponing elections within federal member states.
Third, respect for international law must be the backbone of the response to insecurity throughout the country. We deplore the continuing attacks by Al-Shabaab and other armed groups, and recognize the efforts of the Government and the African Union Transitional Mission (ATMIS) to address them. We call on all actors to respect human rights and international humanitarian law, and to ensure the protection of civilians.
In this context, we particularly deplore the forced recruitment of children, for which Al-Shabaab is primarily responsible. Somalia remains one of the countries where the greatest number of serious violations against children are perpetrated, with an alarming increase. Of particular concern are attacks on schools and hospitals in the Las Anod region. Although the number of casualties has fallen due to a decrease in the intensity of fighting in this region, hostilities continue and the risk of escalation with serious consequences for civilians remains high.
I would like to congratulate UNSOM on the crucial role it is playing. Switzerland continues to support the mission, Somalia and its people in their efforts to build peace and a prosperous future.
I thank you.