Addis Ababa February 1/2023 /ENA/ The Executive Secretary of Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD) called on member states and the international community to scale up their support to fight against terrorism in the Horn of Africa.
Addressing the 3rd State of the IGAD Region Session, Workneh Gebeyehu, Executive Secretary said that 2023 is a critical year for the fight against terrorism in Somalia.
The executive secretary underlined the threat of terrorism, though unsuccessful, seeks to weaken the unity of the east African region.
As a result of the threat that has remained in the region, Workneh called on the IGAD member states and the international community to reinforce support in fighting against terrorism particularly, in neutralize Al-Shabab in Somalia.
“2023 is therefore a critical year for the fight against terrorism in Somalia. We call upon IGAD Member States and the international community at large to scale-up support to President Hassan Sheikh Mohamud and the Somali National Security Forces to finally neutralize the group.”
Specifically, IGAD appeals for increased regional, continental and international support for the African Union (AU) Transition Mission in Somalia (ATMIS) which is working together with the Somalia Security Forces, the executive secretary noted.
According to him, this support from partners would have a more lasting and effective remedy to the problem of terrorism in Somalia, with a strong emphasis on the protection of civilians.
IGAD commends the government, security forces and people of Somalia for the recent gains and sustained efforts to counter the influence of the Al-Shabab terrorist group, Workneh added.
Speaking on the political and diplomatic level, Workneh said IGAD shall continue to work with its partners within the quartet framework that convenes IGAD, the AU, the European Union and the United Nations to coordinate joint efforts towards ensuring peace, security and development of member states.
IGAD also takes note of the recent tensions in Laascanood, Somaliland at the end of 2022 which became a matter of concern considering the significant number of civilian deaths and casualties, he pointed out
“In this regard, the Somaliland issue continues to require our full attention towards a peaceful resolution. At this point, IGAD appreciates the mediation efforts made so far by President Ismail Omar Guelleh, President of the Republic of Djibouti and further encourages his continued engagement.”
Lastly, in South Sudan, progress has been recorded in implementing the revitalized peace agreement, notably the establishment of a fully functional executive, the transitional assembly, state and local governments.
He added that IGAD also welcomes the progress recorded under the Transitional Security Arrangements and congratulates the Republic of South Sudan for the necessary unification of forces of which 82 percent have graduated in the first phase last year.
The IGAD executive secretary also highlighted regional disaster and humanitarian issues, and went on as saying: ” And this is where I turn to the non-Conflict issues affecting our region that still have an impact on peace and security and stability. 2021-20122 were some of the most challenging years in the history of IGAD. It was one of the hottest, driest and most conflict-affected periods for our region in recent memory.”
Rising to the challenge, Workneh pointed out that IGAD worked diligently to respond to the challenges posed by the global pandemic, climate change, the persistent drought, pest invasions and seasonal flooding, all of which combined contributed to a dire regional food security situation.
The regional integration in the horn of Africa remains the core mandate of IGAD, he stated.
“All the preceding work we are doing in peace and security, health and social development, agriculture and environment, disaster prevention and response is geared towards one goal: to create optimal conditions for our people to interact, make a decent living and prosper in a peaceful and predictable environment,” he underscored.
As one of the most important geo-strategic locations in the world, the secretary said it has incredible integration potential that is waiting to be unlocked.
The IGAD region is approximately 50 percent integrated, meaning it still has half-way to go starting this year, he indicated.
“I also know for certain that the political will to integrate and exploit the latent potential of pooled resources exists in our region. In the area of infrastructure alone, our region has advanced remarkably in the last decade with road, rail, sea and air links,” he said.