On visit to Jubaland, Acting UN Special Representative James Swan recommits world body’s support

27 Jun 2024

On visit to Jubaland, Acting UN Special Representative James Swan recommits world body’s support

Kismayo – Starting his initial round of in-person meetings with the leaders of Somalia’s Federal Members States, Acting UN Special Representative James Swan today visited Jubaland where he met with President Ahmed Mohamed Islam ‘Madobe’ and his cabinet to discuss a range of local and national issues of importance.

“I’m very pleased to be to be in Kismayo, in Jubaland. I have had the opportunity to have a telephone call with President Islam previously, and, in fact, I've spoken with all the Federal Member States’ leaders,” Mr. Swan said at the end of his visit.  

The evolving security environment was among the topics addressed during the meeting, with both parties highlighting the critical importance of preparing for the upcoming transition phase of the African Union Transition Mission in Somalia (ATMIS).

“We are very pleased to see that Jubaland security forces, in close coordination with national forces, are preparing to assume responsibility for sites that ATMIS will be vacating,” the Acting UN Special Representative said.

This process, he added, was extremely important not only for the security and well-being of the people in Jubaland, but also for the ability of United Nations agencies, funds and programmes to respond to the needs of the local population.  

“We are all very much concerned with the recent outbreaks of cholera, acute watery diarrhea, and the need to ensure that there is a strong response. So, maintaining that security will be of primary importance. We're pleased to be able to work closely with the government in that position,” Mr. Swan said.

Other topics discussed included gains made in the state-building process, and the importance of continuing these efforts.

“It's so important to continue to engage the population around the democratic agenda, around elections planning, around discussions of establishing district councils and local governance institutions. All of these factors will help ensure that the voices of the Jubaland people are heard and that they can receive the kinds of services that they merit,” Mr. Swan added.  

Working together

The Acting UN Special Representative was accompanied in this visit by representatives from some of the seven UN entities which are based in Jubaland and which provide humanitarian and development support. Those accompanying him were Mary Otieno, the Country Representative ad interim of the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA); Charles Lolika, the Office-in-Charge of the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF); and Verenica Mutiro, the Deputy Head of Programme of the UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO).

“We cannot achieve the huge mandates of the UN and of the government of Somalia without us working together,” Ms. Otieno said at the end of the meetings between the UN officials and Jubaland authorities.

“And so that is my one big takeaway message. The other message is that the government is on board. They are working together, and we heard their concerns of security and how the UN also should really go into the newly liberated,” she added.

The Acting UN Special Representative also welcomed the close collaboration and constructive partnership that that UN has with local authorities responding to the needs of the Jubaland people.

“We want to assure you that the United Nations system remains committed to working here in Jubaland across the full array of our mandates to help the people of this federal member state,” Mr. Swan said.

While in Kismayo, the Acting UN Special Representative also met with UN staff based there and with representatives of ATMIS.

James Swan was appointed to his position by the UN Secretary-General António Guterres on 14 May 2024. Upon his arrival in Mogadishu, Mr. Swan met with Somalia’s President Hassan Sheikh Mohamud and Prime Minister Hamza Abdi Barre. An experienced diplomat, Mr. Swan most recently served as Special Representative for Somalia and Head of UNSOM from 2019 to 2022.