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

31 Mar 2024

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

(Edited for clarity)

Mr. President,

Thank you to you and your team for the warm welcome.

I am very pleased to be here in Garowe. This is my fourth visit to Puntland since I started as the UN Secretary-General’s Special Representative.

I am very glad we had the opportunity to have an open and frank discussion. I congratulated President Deni on the appointment of his new cabinet, many of whom ministers we met this morning.

So, we broadly discussed two sets of issues.

The first is about the development program in Puntland, and I've seen the outline summary that the government has put together with the various pillars, which is very clear.

I reassured the president that he has the support and the full commitment of the full UN family. I have George Conway with me today, who is my deputy who leads on development and humanitarian.

So, for example, we discussed the potential around fisheries that Puntland has with the longest coastline within Somalia. If Puntland can get to the point where it can meet international standards, fisheries could be a great export opportunity as well as of course a source of nutrition and livelihoods domestically for the population.

So, many opportunities, but also many challenges. One of the challenges we've discussed is the recent cholera outbreak, which is very serious here in Puntland and we the UN is scaling up our support to help the government tackle the cholera problem.

The second set of issues we discussed is of course, around the ongoing amendments to the Constitution. The vote that took place in parliament yesterday and of course, I've seen the statement the government of Puntland has put out, and I clearly note their concerns on some substantive elements and also around the process.

But I was very pleased to hear from the president that he is committed to try and find a way through this to ensure that dialogue can continue with the federal government to ensure that there is an inclusive process and the whole country can come together to ensure that eventually the constitution at the federal level defines and ensures that the individual federal member states have their autonomy within that and can play their part.

So, thank you President Deni for being open to finding solutions to the current impasse. And we, the UN, through my good offices, we are here to help find a way through this.

The future of Somalia is at stake. The country, which has so much potential and can't move forward without the full and inclusive participation of Puntland.

Thank you very much, Excellency.