On behalf of colleagues here today representing some of Somalia's main international partners, I would like to thank President Abdiaziz Hassan Mohamed 'Laftagareen' and the people of South West State for the warm reception during our visit.
I am joined here today by the Acting Special Representative of the Chairperson of the African Union Commission and Head of the African Union Transition Mission to Somalia, Fiona Lortan; Ethiopia's Ambassador to Somalia, Abdulfatah Hassan; Sweden's Ambassador to Somalia, Per Lindgarde; the US Ambassador to Somalia, Larry Andre; the European Union Delegation to Somalia's Team Leader, Jens Hoegel; Germany's Deputy Ambassador to Somalia, Sascha Kienzle; and from the Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD), the Head of Mission in Somalia, Abdi Ibrahim.
We appreciate the continued collaboration of the President and his administration with international partners. Your willingness to receive us here today, Mr. President, along with your ministers and key advisors, speaks to out close relationship.
We came here to discuss with the President a range of topics related to political, humanitarian and security developments in South West State, as well as in Somalia as a whole, and also how we can best support South West State.
On the political front, we welcomed the South West State Administration's continued efforts to strengthen local governance, and we are encouraged by the just-concluded formation of a District Council in Huddur. We hope that this sets an example for other such district council endeavours.
We stressed the importance of ensuring that people are accorded the space to express themselves freely, including freedom of assembly, organization, and media, as the people of South West State debate key issues on the public agenda.
On a larger scale, solid and productive working relations between Somalia's Federal Government and the authorities in the country's Federal Member States are crucial to the long-term stability and well-being of all Somalis.
In this respect, we renewed our call for a collaborative relationship between South West State and the Federal Government, and welcome the President's attendance at the recently-concluded meeting of the National Consultative Council meeting in Mogadishu.
Mr. President, the humanitarian situation has grown increasingly dire in many parts of Somalia due to the worsening drought. South West State is no exception to this.
Millions of people across this country are facing crisis and emergency levels of food insecurity. Urgent scaling up of assistance is required to address worsening humanitarian conditions and rising needs.
Somalia's international partners are seriously concerned about the difficult humanitarian situation affecting South West State's residents and those who have arrived from elsewhere due to displacement caused by the drought. We are wholeheartedly committed to continuing to support South West State as it faces this immense challenge.
Mr. President, security remains a key priority in South West State, and, in our meeting today, we commended you, Mr. President, for your continued commitment to degrade Al Shabaab in all three of South West State's regions. We also re-affirmed our commitment to continue working closely with South West State's security establishment in taking on the challenge. In that vein, we urge even closer cooperation among international and local security actors.
Finally, in addition to meeting with South West State officials, later today, our delegation looks forward to meeting with representatives from civil society organisations and to hearing from them about their concerns and how the international community can best support them in their important work as they support local development, human rights, and the needs of women, youth and other historically marginalized groups.
Once again, Mr. President, thank you for time and your willingness to meet with us all today. It has been very much appreciated, and we look forward to continuing our engagement with you and in the efforts of your administration to bring peace, stability and development to the people of South West State.