Washington, DC— Today U.S. Senator Cory Booker (D-NJ) served as Ranking Member on a Senate Foreign Relations Subcommittee on Africa and Global Health Policy hearing on Somalia’s current security and stability status.

During the hearing, Booker highlighted the continued threats to Somalia’s stability, including terrorism perpetrated by al-Shabab, the Somali al-Qaeda affiliate; the impact of climate change on Somalia’s refugee crisis; the role external actors, and in particular the Gulf states, are playing in destabilizing Somalia’s fragile government; and the importance of investing in anti-corruption and good governance policies as a part of U.S. foreign policy. Booker also called for the Trump Administration to urgently fill the U.S. diplomatic vacuum in Somalia by nominating a U.S. Ambassador to Somalia and a U.S. Assistant Secretary for Africa.

An excerpt of Booker’s opening statement is below:

“I have a lot of pressing concerns, we have a lot of pressing challenges right now with our diplomatic efforts in Somalia. I was very taken by the fact that we had our Secretary of State in the midst of a very important trip to the continent of Africa, having that trip undercut by continuing disorder, chaos within our diplomatic corps.

I’m concerned that we don’t have an ambassador to a place here. I’m concerned at a time when we have a region in instability we don’t have an overall strategy, everywhere from Syria to Yemen, we have proxy wars and competition going on that are deeply affecting this area.

We have a state that is showing signs of progress but is still ranked as one of the most corrupt states in the world. There are a lot of really pressing issues, not to mention the security concerns we have, and frankly something that Senator Flake has been a leader on with along some of my colleagues, under what authorization are we using military force, who are we targeting, and again under what authorizations. There is so much in this topic that not only deals with a real crisis, a humanitarian crisis, a security crisis but also with larger themes and larger issues that are affecting the globe as a whole and American security overall.”

A video of Senator Booker’s remarks is available here.