UN chief visits Somalia to shore up peace, humanitarian support

UN secretary general Antonio Guterres (left) and Somalia’s President Hassan Sheikh Mohamud shake hands at the Presidential palace, Villa Somalia, in Mogadishu on April 11, 2023. (PHOTO / AFP)

MOGADISHU – United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres on Tuesday made an unannounced visit to Somalia to advance peace, security, and humanitarian support.

Guterres said he was back in Somalia six years after his first visit as secretary general and met President Hassan Sheikh Mohamud to discuss peace, security, and humanitarian issues. 

"The president and I discussed the government's valuable efforts to tackle terrorism and advance peace and security for everyone, and we underlined the importance of a strong collaboration between the federal government and states," he told a joint news conference in Mogadishu, the capital of Somalia.

The UN chief's visit comes as Somalia is facing a humanitarian crisis due to severe drought, which has left more than 8.25 million in need of food aid

He said both national federal and state authorities can count on the UN's support for further advancing state-building, noting that the UN was particularly encouraged by the recent agreement that was established in relation to the different matters. 

"I also want to ring the alarm of the need for massive international support, massive international support because of the humanitarian difficulties the country is facing, massive international support to build up the security capacity in Somalia, and massive humanitarian support in stabilization and development of the country," Guterres said.

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He said Somalia is experiencing its series of five years of drought in recorded history, and hoped the rain that is coming will persist and will help in averting the situation created by the drought. 

The UN chief also said Somalia has made no contribution to climate change and is among the greatest victims, with nearly 5 million people experiencing high levels of acute food insecurity and the rising price making matters worse.

The UN chief's visit comes as Somalia is facing a humanitarian crisis due to severe drought, which has left more than 8.25 million in need of food aid. The crisis was caused by the historic failure of five consecutive rainy seasons, persistent conflict, displacement, and high food prices which have left millions of people at risk and are pushing people in Somalia to the brink of famine.

Mohamud said the UN has always been a partner with the Somali people for the last decades, for which Somali people are very much grateful. 

"Somalia is making progress, and we are moving forward on the security sector side. Somalia is liberating its country from the scourge of international terrorism, which was here for a couple of decades," he said.

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On the state-building side, Mohamud said they have held five successful national consultative meetings with federal member states to build consensus to address the contentious issues, review the constitution, and fix challenges in the security sector. 

"We have made very good progress in terms of development of national security architecture in the development of national federal judiciary system in terms of physical federalism for the whole country that manages the whole theme," he said.

The president stressed liberating the country from the scourge of terrorism, averting famine and humanitarian crises as well as completing economic and financial reform of the country are the key priorities his government needs to tackle. "We are confident that the Somali people will be able to overcome the problems and challenges they are still facing through the completion of the liberation of the country and reconciliation," Mohamud said.