Peace efforts in Gaalkayo progress as local leaders, police and community leaders meet for community discussions
Gaalkayo – Leaders, community members and police from North and South Gaalkayo have come together this week for a week-long discussion to establish a community forum and joint police community action plans – key steps in furthering peace-building progress in the region.
In 2017, a ceasefire agreement was signed between Puntland and Galmadug following violent clashes between the two states over territory in Gaalkayo, which straddles the borders of the two federal states. Known as the ‘Gaalkayo Ceasefire Agreement,’ it established a Joint Police Patrol Unit (JPPU), made up of officers from both states, to oversee the ceasefire by upholding the rule of law and acting as peace-building officers.
“The JPPU and the community policing initiative is bringing relief to communities here,” the Mayor of Gaalkayo, Hersi Yusuf, said at the opening of the discussion on Monday, while also thanking the UN and international community for their support.
The discussions on the community forum and community-police action plans are seen as a next key step in ensuring community-led engagement and police community partnership in the city.
The event is being led by the leaders of Puntland and Galmadug, with the support of the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and the United Nations Assistance Mission in Somalia (UNSOM), under a joint UN Rule of Law programme, with funding from Germany.
Speaking at the event, the Governor of Mudug, Hassan Khalif Mohamed, spoke about the need for continued international support for local peace-building efforts and for the JPPU.
“Gaalkayo was perceived as a no-go zone years ago, but now this has changed with persistent effort from the community, government administration and the United Nations,” he said. “Community policing is the bridge which connects the community and the police, we need more supports on this and projects to restore rule of law, and economic and community development.”
Others who attended the opening of the discussions included the Mayor of the Puntland part of Galkaayo, Mohamed Yasin Ahmed; the Commissioner of the Somali Police Force, General Bashir Abdi Mohamed; the Acting and Deputy Galmudug Police Commissioner, Abdi Jama Abdulle; the UN Secretary-General’s Special Representative for Somalia, Michael Keating, and the Head of the UNDP Programme Area Office in Puntland, Sayed Sahibzada.
In his remarks, the top police officer praised and encouraged efforts which have seen young people and local police come together to work towards peace in Gaalkayo.
“I commend UNDP’s efforts and commitment to develop the capacity of society in this way. The progress in Gaalkayo is hope for Somalia,” General Mohamed said. “Community policing is very important, and I’m urging the youth to prioritize peace and security here.”
Meanwhile, the UN envoy highlighted the importance of partnership between the Federal Government and local authorities, as well as working with local communities in ensuring peace.
“I’m delighted to see so many young people, women and community members here. Gaalkayo is very different today than it was two years ago when I came here for the first time,” Mr. Keating said.
“You are the community leaders people will look to for leadership – to try to solve the problems and maintain peace. Ensuring engagement in this process is important, we need to try to get as many people in different sectors of the society to talk to each other,” he added.
The week-long event is due to finish on Thursday, 26 July, with agreement expected on the next steps to take for the development of the community forum and police-community action plans.
Concurrently, on the sidelines of the week-long discussions, UNDP is holding the third in a series of trainings on community policing, focusing on building police leadership and community interaction.