Remarks by the UN Special Representative for Somalia, Catriona Laing, to the media during her visit to Galmudug

12 May 2024

Remarks by the UN Special Representative for Somalia, Catriona Laing, to the media during her visit to Galmudug

As delivered.

Good afternoon again, Excellency, Mr. President.

It is such a great pleasure to be in Galmudug and thank you so much to you and your team for a very warm welcome to myself and to my UN team.

I am on my final stint for my assignment in Somalia and it's a busy time but I really wanted to come in person to Galmudug for a few reasons. 

One is that we are building an office here in Galmudug, in Dhusamareb, and we had the opportunity to visit the progress this morning and to see how well that is coming along. So that will be an office run by UNSOM, but will also be for the UN Country Team, UNICEF, World Food Programme and others who want to deepen their partnership here in Galmudug, and that is the essence of the relationship – it's a strong partnership where we come in behind your objectives to deliver for the people of Galmudug.

The second reason I'm here is to celebrate a really amazing success, as Galmudug is the first Federal Member State to have passed legislation to outlaw all forms of female genital mutilation (FGM). This is really an absolutely outstanding achievement, championed by the leadership of the President, but with amazing work done by the Minister of Women's Affairs, and many, many women who have campaigned for this who I've been meeting over lunch today. I have a fantastic group photo with them. These are brave women who stood up and said this has to end, and they had a receptive voice, I’m glad to say in the President.

So going forward, we have three objectives, and we have a joint team set up between the UN and the government of Galmudug to do this.

One is here in Galmudug, legislation is step one. But implementation, of course, is challenging because legislation in itself doesn't change cultural behaviours, deep cultural practices, where families feel they are doing their daughter a service by cutting her, and of course, it is quite the reverse. It is dangerous and harmful and traumatic. So, changing people's mindsets will take time. But we want to work with you on that, through education in particular.

Secondly, taking the good work that's been done here to the other Federal Member States, and I'd like to see the President as he discusses issues at the NCC [National Consultative Council) – and this is an appeal to you, Mr. President – next NCC should have FGM on the agenda, and I want to hear about the progress!

And thirdly, let's not just leave it at Somalia. Let Somalia be the champion for the world on this – one of the many things that Somalia can demonstrate its leadership and its progress. So we have a lot of work to do ahead. I won’t physically be in Somalia, but I will be doing my bit to support this with the Somali diaspora. So please lean on me and I will be certainly promoting and supporting the amazing work you have done.

So thank you again for welcoming us and it's been a great pleasure.