Garowe – The Special Representative of the UN Secretary-General (SRSG) for Somalia, James Swan, visited the Puntland capital of Garowe today and met with the Federal Member State’s President Said Abdullahi Deni and members of his cabinet.
The visit signified Mr. Swan’s first trip out of Mogadishu since he arrived in Somalia on 25 June to take up his duties as SRSG and the Head of the UN Assistance Mission in Somalia (UNSOM).
He chose to make Garowe his first port of call outside the national capital because Puntland was founded in 1998, making it Somalia’s oldest federal member state. Its leaders have played a key role in contributing to the ongoing development of Somalia’s federal model.
“I am pleased to have visited Puntland and engaged in a very constructive meeting with President Deni and members of his administration,” said the SRSG. “We are looking forward to working closely with the people of Puntland and the federal member state administration in order to implement the UNSOM mandate and the activities of the entire UN family more effectively, including efforts to support inclusive dialogue among the Federal Government of Somalia and the Federal Member States.”
Mr. Swan noted the importance and relevance of the UN family’s engagement in a wide variety of activities in Puntland, ranging from emergency humanitarian assistance to medium- and long-term development projects. UN missions and agencies, funds and programmes have supported the efforts of Puntland authorities in developing institutional capacity, strengthening the rule of law, improving livelihood sector development, facilitating political reconciliation, and promoting security sector reform and human rights, among others.
The SRSG and President Deni also discussed the ongoing tensions between “Somaliland” and Puntland over the Sool and Sanaag regions.
“We are concerned about this continuing problem and the sporadic fighting in areas of Sool and Sanaag in recent months,” said Mr. Swan. “That has heightened tensions in the area, and we urge the leaders of Puntland and “Somaliland” to seek a peaceful resolution of this dispute.”
Mr. Swan was accompanied on the trip by the UN World Food Programme (WFP) Country Director Laurent Bukera and the Head of Office of the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, Justin Brady. He toured a WFP project site where local farmers are watering their crops with a solar-powered irrigation system and met with Garowe-based UN staff members.