African Union Mission transfers back main university to Somalia’s government
Mogadishu - Somalia’s premier institution of higher learning - the Somali National University - was handed back yesterday to the federal government by the African Union (AU) Mission in Somalia after ten years of being used for military purposes.
The handover ceremony held in the capital Mogadishu and officiated by the federal Minister for Higher Education, Abdirahman Dahir Osman, heralds a new phase for Somalia’s oldest educational institution.
“We are transiting the University of Somalia from a military barracks back into an institution of higher learning,” Ambassador Francisco Caetano Madeira, the AU Special Representative for Somalia said.
The Special Representative of the UN Secretary-General for Somalia, Michael Keating, described the handover as “another marker of going back to normality and disentangling the role of the security forces from the role of civilian actors”.
AU troops from the Burundi contingent entered the university in 2007, using it as a small forward operating base, which later evolved into a battalion headquarters. After the handover, the troops have been moved to the city of Jowhar. “We are here for a sort of triple celebration. One is to recognize the role of AMISOM and in this case, the Burundi contingent, more broadly AMISOM, working in partnership with the Somali security forces in securing this place and so much of Somalia in the last difficult 10 years and I pay deep tribute to that,” Mr. Keating said at the handover ceremony.
The university is expected to start admission as soon as the government gives its consent.
“We give priority to security, economic development and most importantly, education. We believe that education is the foundation for sustainable development,” Mr. Osman told guests, among them senior government officials and Somalia’s international partners.
Mohamed Ahmed Jimale, Rector of the National University, said the revival of the institution “symbolizes the return of peace, security and stability” to Somalia.
Established in 1954, the university suffered extensive damage at the onset of the civil war that broke out in 1991, leading to its eventual closure. However, in August 2014, the university reopened its constituent colleges to offer specialized training.