SOMALIA / UN DAY

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26-Oct-2023 00:04:30
Marking the recent United Nations Day, the UN top officials in Somalia reaffirmed their support for the Somali government and people as the country continues with its state- and peacebuilding efforts. UNSOM

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STORY: SOMALIA / UN DAY
TRT: 4:30
SOURCE: UNSOM
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LANGUAGE: ENGLISH / NATS

DATELINE: 25 OCTOBER 2023, MOGADISHU, SOMALIA / FILE

SHOTLIST:

FILE – MOGADISHU, SOMALIA

1. Aerial shot, port

25 OCTOBER 2023, MOGADISHU, SOMALIA

2. Wide shot, UN officials, press conference
3. SOUNDBITE (English) Catriona Laing, Secretary-General’s Special Representative for Somalia, United Nations:
“We have been here in Somalia pre-independence. We have been here through some of the very tough times that Somalia has faced. It is an important anniversary, and it is an occasion to recommit with hope and determination to build a better world for all of our aspirations.”
4. Various shots, Somali flag, UN officials
5. SOUNDBITE (English) Catriona Laing, Secretary-General’s Special Representative for Somalia, United Nations:
“We are at quite a crucial moment where we need to agree collectively, under the leadership of the Government, [on] the way forward on elections, the kind of models that Somalia will pursue, the timeline, the sequencing of elections, and of course, very importantly, to try and bring Puntland back into this process.”
6. Various shots, attendants
7. SOUNDBITE (English) Catriona Laing, Secretary-General’s Special Representative for Somalia, United Nations:
“This is in recognition that the Government was facing challenges conducting the counter-offensive while also generating enough troops to take over the forward operating bases that are held by ATMIS. This time is being used wisely to do some reconfiguration, some resetting, and to replan the military strategies. It’s important to note that reclaiming areas from Al-Shabaab is, of course, only step one, although a very important step.”
8. Wide shot, UN officials, press conference
9. SOUNDBITE (English) George Conway, Deputy Special Representative for Somalia / Resident and Humanitarian Coordinator, United Nations:
“It was an important part of preventing the country from falling over the brink from a protracted drought into famine conditions. We estimate right now about four million Somalis are living at different levels of food security crisis. And that is a lot. That is a very high number. And 3.8 million Somalis are internally displaced across the country. That number itself increased by a million people over the course of the protracted drought. So right now, today in addition to the baseline of humanitarian need in the country, we are very concerned about the impact of El Niño on the Deyr rainy season We have already in the past two weeks seen flash flooding happening in a number of cities throughout the country. We have seen river levels rising… The estimates that we have right now are that the rains are likely to be the worst that we’ve seen in at least 20 years, with the most recent worst rains in 1997.”

FILE – SOMALIA

10. Various shots, drought

25 OCTOBER 2023, MOGADISHU, SOMALIA

11. SOUNDBITE (English) George Conway, Deputy Special Representative for Somalia / Resident and Humanitarian Coordinator, United Nations:
“We’ve done a lot of work to help government, local governments and state governments identify evacuation areas, in high ground areas, provided maps and provided data. We are doing monitoring of river levels in support of the Government in order to give early warning notice to communities so that they can be informed if they have to move. And we are providing packages of early response support to those communities that are directly impacted in the areas of food or cash or hygiene or water or sanitation or the other areas that we are focused on.”

FILE – 2023, SOMALIA

12. Various shots, flooding

25 OCTOBER 2023, MOGADISHU, SOMALIA

13. SOUNDBITE (English) George Conway, Deputy Special Representative for Somalia / Resident and Humanitarian Coordinator, United Nations:
“These are cyclical in Somalia and the cycles are getting shorter and shorter and the impact is getting higher and higher. And what that necessitates from the Somali authorities, supported by the international community, including the United Nations, is to invest in solutions to reduce the risks for the future.”
14. Wide shot, UN officials, press conference

FILE – SOMALIA

14. Various shots, UNSOS-supported firefighting training,

FILE – BAIDOA, SOUTHWEST STATE, SOMALIA

15. Various shots, runway repair

FILE – SOMALIA

16. Various shots, women engaged in various economic activities, persons with disabilities

STORYLINE:
Marking the recent United Nations Day, the UN top officials in Somalia reaffirmed their support for the Somali government and people as the country continues with its state- and peacebuilding efforts.

The Secretary-General’s Special Representative for Somalia, Catriona Laing, said on Wednesday (25 Oct) at a news conference in Mogadishu, “We have been here in Somalia pre-independence. We have been here through some of the very tough times that Somalia has faced.”

She was accompanied by the Secretary-General’s Deputy Special Representatives for Somalia, Anita Kiki Gbeho and George Conway, with the latter also serving as the UN Resident Coordinator and Humanitarian Coordinator, and the Head of the UN Support Office for Somalia (UNSOS), Aisa Kacyira.

Celebrated annually on 24 October, UN Day marks the anniversary of the entry into force in 1945 of the UN Charter.

With the ratification of this founding document by the majority of its signatories, the United Nations officially came into being.

“It is an important anniversary, and it is an occasion to recommit with hope and determination to build a better world for all of our aspirations,” said Laing, who recently returned from UN Headquarters in New York City, where she had briefed the Security Council at its latest meeting on the situation in Somalia.

In her remarks to the media in Mogadishu, she highlighted various developments that are currently among the top areas of focus for the United Nations in Somalia.

On the political front, the UN Special Representative flagged issues surrounding the National Consultative Council (NCC), which brings together the leaders of the Federal Government of Somalia (FGS) and its Federal Member States (FMSs).

In May this year, the NCC had set out four specific proposals for a future electoral system with moves to: a presidential system, a two-party system, a ‘one person, one vote’ electoral model throughout the country, and dates for local council elections and alignment of FMS terms of office.

The proposals continue to dominate political debate.
Laing also stressed the importance of Somalia’s Constitutional Review Process continuing.

The conflict in Laascaanood also figured in the top UN official’s remarks.

She noted that the situation remains difficult and tense, despite the situation on the ground being relatively calm and displaced people starting to return home.

Addressing developments on Somalia’s security front, the UN Special Representative noted that the FGS recently requested a three-month technical pause to the latest stage of the drawdown of the African Union Transition Mission in Somalia (ATMIS) while it engages in a major military effort against the Al-Shabaab terrorist group.

“This is in recognition that the Government was facing challenges conducting the counter-offensive while also generating enough troops to take over the Forward Operating Bases that are held by ATMIS. This time is being used wisely to do some reconfiguration, some resetting, and to replan the military strategies,” Laing said.

According to Somalia’s security plans, ATMIS will be drawing down its troops over the next 14 months before completely departing at the end of 2024, with the Somali Security Forces (SSF) assuming prime responsibility in this area.

A high-level conference on Somalia’s post-2024 security architecture and its needs is scheduled to take place at UN Headquarters in December this year.

While on security matters, the UN Special Representative spoke about the importance of what happens in areas where the SSF drives Al-Shabaab terrorist out.

“It’s important to note that reclaiming areas from Al-Shabaab is, of course, only step one, although a very important step,” she said.

In her remarks to the media, Assistant Secretary-General Kacyira said UNSOS expects to continue its wide-ranging, steadfast support to ATMIS and the SSF throughout the remainder of ATMIS’ time in Somalia, and with a focus on leaving the SSF well-prepared for its responsibilities.

UNSOS’s logistics support throughout the security transition includes the handover of ATMIS’ Forward Operating Bases to the SSF, along with equipment at these locations. The latter includes water points, generators and water treatment plants.

When speaking about the UN’s support for increasing Somali women’s participation in society, including in peacebuilding and decision-making processes, the UN Special Representative emphasized that women play a very important role in security, and there can be no lasting peace unless women are involved in resolving underlying tensions and drivers of conflict.

On the issue of human rights in Somalia, the UN Special Representative welcomed recent legislative achievements, such as the Federal Government’s approval of a Disability Rights Bill, a Child Rights Bill, and a Juvenile Justice Bill.

In her remarks to the media, in relation to the Disability Rights Bill, Deputy Special Representative Gbeho highlighted the UN’s support for the National Disability Agency over the last two years – including support for its first-ever disability needs and perceptions survey.

In August 2019, following extensive consultations and advocacy, the FGS ratified the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities.

This momentum resulted in the fast-tracking of a national mechanism, with the inauguration of the National Disability Agency (NDA) in 2021.

Subsequently, the NDA led and consulted on the drafting of the Disability Rights Bill which was promulgated in July 2023.

Despite its recent creation, the National Disability Agency is a fully functioning institution and UNSOM has been its main partner in supporting its capacity building, facilitation of donor funding and technical assistance.

Within human rights, on the topic of freedom of expression, UN Special Representative Laing noted its importance to the world body.

On economic development, the UN Special Representative welcomed Somalia’s progress within the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and World Bank’s Heavily Indebted Poor Countries (HIPC) Initiative.

The IMF and World Bank launched HIPC Initiative in 1996 to ensure that no poor country faces an unmanageable debt burden.

In 2005, to accelerate progress toward the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals, the HIPC Initiative was supplemented by the Multilateral Debt Relief Initiative. This allows countries completing the HIPC Initiative process to receive 100 percent relief on eligible debts by the IMF, the World Bank and the African Development Fund.

In her remarks to the media, Deputy Special Representative Gbeho also elaborated on the UN’s support for Somalia’s rule of law, justice, and corrections, which includes supporting the strengthening of police and community policing throughout the country.

Somalia’s dire humanitarian situation figured prominently in the news conference.

The Horn of Africa country has been experiencing a long and severe drought – its worst in 40 years – which has also involved significant risks of famine.

At the height of the humanitarian response over the past two years, more than 6.3 million Somalis were receiving some form of UN assistance.

This support included assistance with food, hygiene, water, sanitation and more.

UN Deputy Special Representative Conway said, “It was an important part of preventing the country from falling over the brink from a protracted drought into famine conditions.”

In 2022 and early 2023, the UN and its partners engaged in a robust humanitarian response, which helped.

However, while recent rains have ameliorated the situation and food insecurity across the country has improved, challenges remain.

Currently, there are millions of people who are still food insecure and in need of assistance.

The situation is projected to deteriorate further until December, mainly due to the enhanced Deyr rains exacerbated by the El Niño phenomenon.

El Niño is expected to cause flash and riverine floods in large parts of the country.

“We estimate right now about four million Somalis are living at different levels of food security crisis. And that is a lot. That is a very high number. And 3.8 million Somalis are internally displaced across the country. That number itself increased by a million people over the course of the protracted drought,” said Deputy Special Representative Conway.

“So right now, today in addition to the baseline of humanitarian need in the country, we are very concerned about the impact of El Niño on the Deyr rainy season,” he continued.

“We have already in the past two weeks, seen flash flooding happening in a number of cities throughout the country. We have seen river levels rising… The estimates that we have right now are that the rains are likely to be the worst that we’ve seen in at least 20 years, with the most recent worst rains in 1997.”

According to estimates from the UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), around 1.2 million Somalis could be impacted by flooding over the course of the next three months, with 1.6 million hectares of land also inundated as a result.

Somalis in camps for internally displaced people and the host communities for those camps, are expected to be disproportionately affected.

Conway noted that UN humanitarian agencies have been working with the FGS, in particular its Somalia Disaster Management Agency, and also with FMS-level humanitarian affairs ministries on preparedness measures to try to reduce the impact on Somalis.

“We’ve done a lot of work to help government, local governments, and state governments identify evacuation areas, in high ground areas, provided maps, and provided data. We are doing monitoring of river levels in support of the Government in order to give early warning notice to communities so that they can be informed if they have to move,” Conway said.

However, the UN’s humanitarian support faces hurdles.

Somalia’s 2023 Humanitarian Response Plan seeks more than $2.6 billion to meet the priority needs of 7.6 million people. Currently, the plan has received less than half of the sought-after amount, and partners are having to prioritize the most vulnerable in areas with the greatest severity of needs.

Aside from humanitarian issues, the Deputy Special Representative also addressed Somalia’s broader development, including the need to find long-term solutions to recurrent crises caused by climate shocks, such as flooding and drought.

“These are cyclical in Somalia, and the cycles are getting shorter and shorter, and the impact is getting higher and higher. And what that necessitates from the Somali authorities, supported by the international community, including the United Nations, is to invest in solutions to reduce the risks for the future,” Conway said.

Conway noted that completing the HIPC Initiative process will enable an expansion of the development agenda in Somalia – one that addresses the underlying drivers of cyclical crises and risks and builds greater resilience of Somali citizens and Somali institutions to be able to better manage these crises in the future.
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