Remarks by UN Secretary-General’s Special Representative for Somalia, James Swan, to the Media in Jowhar

28 Jan 2021

Remarks by UN Secretary-General’s Special Representative for Somalia, James Swan, to the Media in Jowhar

Good Afternoon, Mr. President.

I would like to thank you and your team for the warm welcome that you have extended to us today.

Mr. President, you and I have seen each other of many video screens and we have met before in Mogadishu, but it’s a great pleasure for me to call on you here in Hirshabelle along with my team. 

I am here with the Mohamed Yarrow of the UN Food and Agriculture Organization, and also Meinolf Schlotmann, who is the Police Commissioner for the UN Assistance Mission in Somalia. 

We’re very pleased to be in Jowhar today. We have come to discuss with the President, and his ministers and other advisors, the work of the United Nations in support of Hirshabelle.

Hirshabelle is the youngest of Somalia’s Federal Members States, established in 2016. We know that its development needs are significant in light of this, and the UN family continues to provide support in various fields, including with development and humanitarian assistance, but also with security and reconciliation efforts.

Allow me to share a few specific examples.

On the humanitarian front, tied into the desert locust infestation experienced in many parts of the country, the UN World Food Programme is providing much-needed assistance to people through its nutrition programme for locust-affected villages. 

Flooding has also impacted development efforts. In that regard, the UN Food and Agriculture Organization has identified at least 60 water breakage points and is working with local authorities to close 13 high flood risk river embankments – and four of these have already been completed.

I’m pleased to add that the UN Food and Agriculture Organization is also rehabilitating 35 kilometres of major irrigation canals. This will enable Hirshabelle to continue to realize its potential as the breadbasket of Somalia. 

As other examples, the International Organization for Migration is working in Hirshabelle at the community level. It has supported the construction of primary schools, a modern market complex, a women’s centre and more in many localities in Hirshabelle.

On the security front, along with its partners, the United Nations remains committed to supporting the Hirshabelle police. Currently, some 579 police officers are receiving stipends through the UN Joint Police Programme. The Programme will also fund the construction of police stations, provide equipment and develop programmes on community policing.

Again, these are just some examples of our close partnership with Hirshabelle, and one that we look forward to continuing and developing further.

As was the case with other heads of Federal Member State with whom I’ve met recently, we also discussed the broader political situation in Somalia, primarily the upcoming elections.

I shared with the President that I was pleased to see the statement this morning from Jubaland and Puntland, as well as the announcement of their nominees to the State Electoral Implementation Teams. I will be consulting, later today, with other international partners as we agree on our collective response to these developments. But my initial reaction is that, while overdue, the issuance of these lists is a positive, welcome development.

I also welcome the very helpful proposal for a meeting of Federal Government of Somalia and Federal Member State leaders, which is fully consistent with repeated partner appeals for Somalia’s leaders to reach agreement on the implementation of the electoral model adopted on September 17th. 

These are positive, conciliatory moves by Jubaland and Puntland, and I urge that they be reciprocated by the Federal Government and other Federal Member States.

With that, once again, Mr. President, my sincere thanks for your time, for your hospitality and for sharing your insights and your ambitions and your expectations for Hirshabelle. The UN family in Somalia looks forward to working together with you and your team to improve the lives of the people of Hirshabelle as it grows and develops in 2021 and beyond.