Remarks by the UN Special Representative for Somalia, Catriona Laing, to the media, during her visit to Jowhar, Hirshabelle
Thank you so much, Mr. President, for the very warm welcome you have extended to myself and my team today, and many thanks also to your cabinet.
I am accompanied today by George Conway, who is the UN’s Deputy Special Representative of the Secretary-General for Somalia, and Humanitarian and [UN] Resident Coordinator for Somalia. We’re very lucky to have George on the team – he served in Somalia for many years including time here as UNDP director.
As many of you will know, I arrived earlier this week in Somalia. I returned to Somalia after 30 years – I was in the original UN Mission and I was so delighted to present my credentials to his excellency, the President of Somalia, Hassan Skeikh Mohamud, and it is with great pleasure that I make my first trip outside of Mogadishu here to Hirshabelle.
In my discussions with the president, we focused in particular on the recent flooding crisis that you are facing, and committed the full support of the UN’s country programmes and agencies to come behind the very good efforts of the government to try and ensure that the immediate needs are met but just as importantly that we invest in the long-term flood defences and so on to ensure there are sustainable solutions.
In relation to security, the President updated me on the very effective campaign against Al-Shabaab, the reclaiming of much of the territory, and we talked about the importance of stabilizing those areas, coming in with a whole-of-government, holistic approach. And again, the UN is very committed to supporting that.
On federal matters, I welcomed the strong engagement of his excellency, the President, on taking forward the work around state-building, the constitutional review, and I commended him for his outreach and commitment to support that wider state-building process at the national level as well as here, within his own [Federal Member] State with the establishment of district councils.
We agreed on the importance of an inclusive approach, a transparent approach as we reach out to all stakeholders to build consensus.
Mr. President, this is the first of many visits I will make to Hirshabelle and I am looking forward to a very constructive partnership with you and with your team as we work to achieve your aspiration for a peaceful, prosperous, secure Hirshabelle.