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

31 Jan 2021

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

Good afternoon, Mr. President.

I would like to begin by thanking you – President Ahmed Mohamed Islam ‘Madobe’ – and your team, for the warm welcome that we’ve received here in Kismayo today.

I’m here with colleagues from different parts of the UN family in Somalia – the Country Director of the World Food Programme, Cesar Arroyo; the Representative to Somalia of UNHCR, the UN refugee agency, Johann Siffointe; the Representative of the World Health Organization, Dr.  Mamunur Rahman Malik; and from the UN Food and Agriculture Organization, the Fisheries Coordinator for Somalia, Mr. Andrew Read.

And they represent only a sub-set of the 15 UN entities operating to support the people of Jubaland.

We’re very pleased to be in Kismayo today. It is the latest in our visits to the Federal Member States at the beginning of 2021. We have come to discuss with the President and his team the work of the United Nations in support of Jubaland in 2021 and beyond.

Among many programmes, the UN efforts include support for primary health and wellbeing, economic empowerment and protection of the most vulnerable.

I would like to share a few specific examples.

The World Food Programme has been working to strengthen the long-term resilience of communities in Jubaland against drought, flood and other shocks. This development work includes livelihoods, food systems and safety net programmes.

It builds on the well-established humanitarian portfolio in Jubaland – where it supports more than 400,000 food insecure people with urgent food relief, nutrition programmes and school meals. And there is a particular focus on the nutrition of mothers and young children.

Another example of the World Food Programme’s work here, right here in Kismayo, is the rehabilitation of Kismayo port. The World Food Programme has removed the sunken wrecks of two ships that have long impeded access through the seaway.

Clearing those wrecks will enable humanitarian logistics services through the port, but also offers a significant opportunity to improve port services for Jubaland’s economy.

The World Health Organization has been working closely with the Ministry of Health here in Jubaland, and at the federal level, to ensure that the people of Jubaland have better access to health care.

This includes, of course, help with the response to COVID-19. But WHO, in recent months, has also been busy helping with mass immunization campaigns. These include three polio campaigns to reach around 300,000 children in 11 accessible districts. And, in October last year, the World Health Organization also conducted a measles immunization campaign here in Kismayo, a hotspot for measles, vaccinating more than 56,000 children against the disease.

The Food and Agriculture Organization [FAO] has supported the development of the fishing industry. This support included the design and building of 16 new fishing vessels, and the provision of modern fishing gear, along with full training.

FAO has further provided renewable energy-powered ice machines and fridge freezers, which have allowed catch quality to be improved, reducing the spoilage of fish, increasing prices, and further contributing to food security in Jubaland.

UNHCR, the refugee agency, supports returnees, internally displaced people and host communities across Jubaland. In 2020, this included construction of more than 1,000 housing units plus other infrastructure for returning refugees, as well as support for flood-affected households. UNHCR also supports more than 28,000 students to enhance enrolment and retention, especially for girls.

Again, these are just some examples – but they give a sense of the scope of UN family support, and that’s what we hope to build on as we listen to what Jubaland’s authorities are seeking for the future and what they expect from the United Nations, and we look forward to that close partnership.

President Ahmed Islam and I also discussed the wider political situation in Somalia, particularly the elections. 

The United Nations was one of many of Somalia’s partners which welcomed the announcement late last week by Jubaland – along with Puntland – of the nomination of their State-level Electoral Implementation Teams.

We also welcome yesterday’s announcement by President Mohamed Abdullahi Mohamed ‘Farmaajo’ that he will hold the National Consultative Forum with FMS [Federal Member State] leaders in Dhusamareb on February 1-3.

We commend the President’s initiative in convening this meeting and urge constructive participation by FGS [Federal Government of Somalia] and FMS leaders, in a spirit of compromise, to reach agreement together on rapid implementation of the 17 September electoral model.

As part of those discussions, it is important to find compromise on administrative and security arrangements in Garbaharey to ensure the electoral process may proceed under the terms of the September 17 agreement. We hope that there can be progress in these discussions and urge that such efforts continue.

The President and I also discussed the clashes in and around Belet Hawo on January 25th. I expressed condolences to the families who lost loved ones, including innocent civilians and, indeed, a number of children. I stressed that this a time for restraint and de-escalation of the situation, and that that approach should guide all sides involved in these recent clashes.

Once again, Mr. President, my sincere thanks for your time and hospitality, and that of your team. We look forward to working together with you, and your team, and the people of Jubaland in 2021, to build a better future together. Thank you, sir.