Remarks by the UN Special Representative for Somalia, Catriona Laing, to the media, during her visit to Baidoa, South West State
Thank you so much, Mr. President. Let me begin by thanking you and your team for welcoming me to South West State, Baidoa. This is my second visit; I was here back in 1993 during the original UN mission to Somalia. So, it's a great pleasure to be back.
I arrived just a week ago in Somalia, and of course, my first formal meeting was with His Excellency Hassan Sheikh Mohammed, President of the Federal Republic of Somalia. I am trying to do quick visits round all of the Federal Member States because I think it's very important to establish strong relationships early and to see for myself the situation on the ground. So, it's a great pleasure to be here in Baidoa. It's quite a short visit, but one of many to come in the future as we build and continue to strengthen our deep relationship.
As His Excellency the President, I think has said, we've had a very good conversation, including with key members of his cabinet. We started by talking about the ongoing serious humanitarian situation here in South West State, a part of the country that used to be the breadbasket of Somalia, I hear, but now is one of the most vulnerable due to these repeated droughts.
We talked about dealing with a very big humanitarian IDP crisis, with many people now urbanising, coming into Baidoa and other urban centres and the importance of preparing for a long-term solution for those IDPs who now live in urban areas. We also talked about the importance of dealing with the underlying drivers of climate change and building resilience and a stronger economic base in the future.
We then moved on to security with the ongoing challenge of Al-Shabaab, but I commended the president on the really good work to reclaim areas from Al-Shabaab and the importance of us coming behind the government's very good efforts to stabilise those areas that have been taken back from Al-Shabaab, rebuilding trust with communities as basic services are provided, health workers, education and so on. And of course, enduring security through police and the local military forces.
Those were the main topics of our discussion. As I said, it's the first of many visits, and I'm delighted to be here and looking forward to my next visit being longer and hopefully, travelling around South West State.
Thank you again, Mr. President.