Remarks by the UN Special Representative for Somalia, James Swan, to the media in Baidoa
Mr. President, honourable members of the cabinet and members of the press. Good morning.
I am pleased to be here with you with Mr. Frantz Celestin, who is the head of the International Organisation for Migration (IOM) team here in Somalia, and also with Ms. Sanaa Omer, who is the deputy head of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees agency here.
President Abdiaziz, I am glad to be back in Baidoa as part of my regular visits to Federal Member States although I wish it were under better circumstances.
We know the people of South West are badly affected by severe drought conditions and by continued deadly operations by Al-Shabaab. Please allow me to begin by expressing my condolences on the tragic deaths of South West State’s regional Minister of Justice, Sheikh Hassan Ibrahim, and several other people, including one of his sons, on Friday. Several others were also injured, we wish them a speedy recovery. And this incident, of course, also followed the death of Merka District Commissioner Abdullahi Ali Wafow for which I also extend condolences. These latest terrorist attacks by Al-Shabaab are a stark reminder of the danger the group poses to civilians and to peace and stability in Somalia.
In our meetings this morning, President Abdiaziz and I discussed a range of local and national issues of importance.
We exchanged ideas on how best to advance Somalia’s peace-building processes and state-building processes now that a new Federal Government and leadership is in place. We agreed on the importance of a deep collaboration between the Federal Government and Federal Member States to advance progress on national priorities.
I also welcomed assurances by President Abdiaziz that he, along with South West State’s other prominent political figures, will pursue peaceful dialogue to resolve any differences they may have. It is important that political disputes be resolved through dialogue and that freedom of speech is ensured, as laid out in South West State’s Provisional Constitution.
On security, again, I expressed my concern about Al-Shabaab’s continued activities across South West State, and we discussed the group’s recent attacks in Bakol. These incidents underscore the need to advance Somalia’s security transition in order to be better able to confront such threats.
The ongoing drought is a crisis that is causing need and suffering across Somalia and the region. The scale of the challenge is immense, although it is clear to me from our discussions that the South West State administration and the humanitarian community here are doing their utmost to respond.
In this respect, we discussed the importance of access to remote areas, as well as the increasing inflows of internally displaced people in Baidoa and other urban centres in South West State. UN agencies are already responding through programmes of cash transfer, nutrition assistance, water and sanitation support and health services.
But the situation is dire and more needs to be done. To this end, the United Nations continues to advocate with the donor community for the mobilization of more resources to meet this challenge across the country and here in South West State.
I would like to close my remarks by thanking President Abdiaziz and his team for their consistent and constructive engagement with the international community and partners on the key political, security, development and humanitarian issues affecting communities in South West State.
Thank you again Mr. President.