Good Afternoon, Mr. President, representatives of the media.
Thank you, President Said Abdullahi Deni and your team, for the warm welcome that you have extended to us today.
I would also like congratulate President Said Abdullahi Deni and his administration on their second anniversary in office, which was marked on the 8th of January. Over the past two years, Puntland has continued to make notable advances in the democratization process, the strengthening of governance and public finance management, security sector reform and infrastructure development.
I am here today with several members of the UN family that work here in Puntland – we have Cesar Arroyo, the Country Director of the World Food Programme; also Johann Siffointe, the Representative to Somalia of UNHCR, the UN refugee agency; and Sadiq Syed, the UN Women Country Programme Manager.
We’ve come to discuss with the President and his ministers the work the United Nations is currently doing in Puntland, and how the United Nations could better support Puntlanders in 2021. Our current activities range from support for ongoing reconciliation, security and stabilization efforts to providing humanitarian and development assistance.
Let me offer a few specific examples.
In Puntland, UNHCR is supporting refugees, returnees and internally displaced people, as well as host communities, working to ensure that individuals can meet their basic needs and are given the tools to foster resilience.
UNHCR also provided support to Puntland’s COVID-19 response with the distribution of sanitary materials and personal protective equipment to some 19,000 people, as well as livelihood interventions – such as cash grants, entrepreneurial and vocational training, and educational assistance – to more than 5,000 people.
We’re also pleased that UNHCR was able to work closely with the Puntland administration in helping with the response to last year’s devastating floods and Cyclone Gati.
The World Food Programme is working with Puntland’s Ministry of Environment, Agriculture and Climate Change, to set up a skills development centre that will promote innovative techniques to grow food in harsh conditions. Participants will be trained in agriculture and fodder production using 80 per cent less water than traditional methods.
The World Food Programme is also helping internally displaced people from 3,500 households who have self-organized into 20 farmers’ cooperative groups. They’re being supported with climate-change irrigation infrastructure – such as solar pumps – and training on agricultural livelihoods, organizational development and conflict resolution. These programmes are in addition to the World Food Programme’s core humanitarian support through food distribution [and] cash and voucher assistance to nearly 500,000 people in Puntland.
UN Women is working closely with local authorities in Puntland to advance gender equality and women’s empowerment. This includes work with the Attorney-General’s office and with the Ministry of Justice to improve access to judicial services for women.
These are just a few concrete examples of support that some members of the overall UN family are providing here in Puntland.
In our meeting today with the President, we also discussed the importance of strengthening good relations between the Federal Government of Somalia and the Federal Member States.
On the political front, the President and I discussed preparations for elections. In this regard, I highlighted the need for constructive compromise between the Federal Government and Federal Member States to reach agreement over implementation of the electoral process. This is in the national interest.
We again urge all of Somalia’s leaders to work together and to find ways to resolve outstanding issues, so that a credible electoral process can take place across Somalia.
This is a matter of urgency. It is time for leadership by Somalia’s main political actors. It is time for solutions, not more excuses why agreement can’t be reached.
Mr. President, as we conclude our visit, once again our sincere thanks for the warm welcome. We look forward to continuing to work together with you, and your team and the people of Puntland in 2021 to build a better future together. Sincere thanks, Mr. President.