ASG Cheng-Hopkins pays five day visit to Somalia

MOGADIIU (CIHAN)- The United Nations Assistant Secretary-General for Peace building Support has concluded a 5-day visit to Somalia, with an announcement of further investment in addressing the country’s peace building needs.

Judy Cheng-Hopkins has over the course of her visit held meetings with several officials of the Federal Government of Somalia, members of civil society, youth, women and the leadership the Jubba Interim Administration in Kismayo.

On her last day in Somalia, addressing a press conference in Mogadishu Cheng-Hopkins observed that Somalia still suffers conflict but has areas that enjoy relative peace, which need immediate investment to ensure that the situation is sustained.

“While Somalia still has internal conflict and still has a problem with Al Shabaab and with other groups, the feeling is that there is sufficient windows of opportunity in certain parts of the country where we should invest now in peace-building, so that the sustainability of the peace can be preserved and not wait for the entire country to go into peace before we invest,” she said.

Cheng-Hopkins also announced additional funding worth $7 for immediate response in the newly recovered areas. This is in addition to the $3 million allocation announced from the UN Peacebuilding Fund in March this year. The funds will be used to support stabilization and peace-building efforts in newly recovered areas.

The UN Special Representative of the Secretary-General for Somalia Nicholas Kay noted that the country’s humanitarian needs remain enormous and under-funded. He warned that unless more funding comes forth, the Somali people, especially women and children will continue to face multiple challenges.

He noted that the consolidated appeal for humanitarian work has only been funded 12 percent by the international donor community and said that “without additional funding I am afraid that women and children and vulnerable people will begin to suffer both from food shortages and inadequate medical treatment.”

The Global Humanitarian Response for Somalia 2014 seeks $927.5m, for assistance of 3.18m people.

Cheng-Hopkins also visited Hudur, one of the newly recovered towns in the Bakool region, where she met with the Governor, District Commissioner and residents.

Residents of Hudur say the roads leading to the town have been cut off by al Shabaab, blocking food supply routes. The extremists have also made it impossible for people who had fled the town earlier to return to their homes.

Cheng-Hopkins who held meetings with the town Governor, District Commissioner, youths and women empathized with the population and noted that their needs require immediate attention.

She said “the immediate needs are so high like the shortage of food, vast shortage of food, water supplies it’s so serious from what we have heard from everybody. Number one and number two, this whole question of finishing the business of liberating these areas completely is so high that you have to prioritize things, in terms of the peace building that we normally do.”

The area leadership estimates that there are 14,000 people living in Hudur, while thousands who had fled the town earlier are stranded in the outskirts. Water and food prices have increased drastically as a result of limited supply. Residents say the people attempting to bring food to the town are tortured and killed by al Shabaab.

Barey Omar, a trader in Hudur town says the suppliers have been threatened.

The United Nations Assistant Secretary General for peacebuilding support has underscored the need for youth engagement to fight unemployment and subsequent vulnerability to exploitation by terrorists.

The previous day, Cheng-Hopkins visited Kismayo, where she held meetings with the leadership of the Jubba Interim Administration, youths and women in the area.

The youths appealed for support, to develop skills or engage in activities that would help alleviate poverty from their communities.

Abdirahman Hassan, Executive Director of Voluntary Initiative for Social Development, a civil society organisation noted that youth unemployment has a direct impact on the country’s security.

On her first day in Somalia, she held meetings with the Somali Prime Minister Abdiweli Sheikh Ahmed, the Speaker of Parliament Mohamed Sheik Osman Jawaari, the Minister for Interior and Federalism as well as the Finance Minister.

Speaking after the meeting with the Prime Minister, the ASG Cheng-Hopkins said the talks had been very productive, with specific focus on support towards the areas newly liberated from the al Shabaab.

She pledged further support from the United Nations to improve the lives of people living in these areas and across Somalia.

She said “I am very happy to say that we’ve just had very fruitful discussions with the Prime Minister. I think we had really quite an in-depth, very frank discussion of the road ahead for this country. It seems very, very promising. So we discussed everything as you can imagine, from the constitutional reform to the new federalism, to what we do in so-called Shabaab cleared areas, to how we can deal with the youth, how can we deal with women groups and generally, how we can have reconciliation and outreach with the local communities that may have felt a little bit left out through the decades, in this new day ahead, in this new future for Somalia.”

The Somali Prime Minister Abdiweli Sheikh Ahmed expressed his gratitude to the UN for the continued support and provision of funding to areas of critical need for the Somali people.

SHOTLIST:
8 MAY 2014, MOGADISHU, SOMALIA

Press conference hall with journalists
Camera screen with image of United Nations Assistant Secretary-General for Peacebuilding Support, ASG Judy Cheng-Hopkins
Journalists filming the press conference
Press conference room

7 MAY 2014, HUDUR, SOMALIA

UN Helicopter landing
ASG Judy Cheng-Hopkins exiting helicopter
ASG Cheng-Hopkins greeting Hudur Governor and officials
Officials walking away from helipad
Officials walking
Hudur town
Men seated next to a building
Men seated
ASG Cheng-Hopkins walking through Hudur market
ASG Cheng-Hopkins talking to traders
ASG Cheng-Hopkins chatting to traders
Market in Hudur
Women selling merchandise at the market
Sack of sorghum
ASG Cheng-Hopkins touring the market
ASG Cheng-Hopkins and official walking through the market

6 MAY 2014, KISMAYO, SOMALIA

UN plane arriving at Kismayo International Airport
Popellers of the aircraft
UN delegation walks out of the airport
ASG Cheng- Hopkins and officials entering a building
Meting with women, youth and elders
ASG Cheng-Hopkins and other officials at the high table
Pople in the meeting
Fce of a man
ASG Cheng-Hopkins address the meeting
Arcraft propellers running
UN aircraft leaving

5 MAY 2014, MOGADISHU, SOMALIA

ASG convoy arriving at the Somali Prime Minister’s office
UN Assistant Secretary-General for Peacebuilding support (ASG) Judy Cheng- Hopkins and (SRSG) Nicholas Kay entering the Prime Minister’s Office
ASG Cheng-Hopkins received by the Somali Prime Minister
SRSG Nicholas Kay
UN officials and Prime Minister talking
ASG Cheng-Hopkins
Somali Prime Minister and ASG Judy Cheng-Hopkins walking into press conference
Jurnalist taking pictures at the press conference

SOUNDBITE (English) Judy Cheng-Hopkins, United Nations Assistant Secretary- General for Peacebuilding Support:
“The feeling is that there are sufficient windows of opportunity, windows of opportunity in certain parts of the country where we should invest now in peace-building, so that the sustainability of the peace can be preserved and not wait for the entire country to go into peace before we invest.”

SOUNDBITE (English) Nicholas Kay, UN Special Representative of the Secretary- General for Somalia (SRSG):
“Without additional funding, I am afraid that women and children and vulnerable people will begin to suffer both from food shortages and inadequate medical treatment. This is an urgent and serious situation and we are watching very, very carefully the potential for food insecurity in the next months in Somalia.”

SOUNDBITE (Somali) Barey Omar, Trader:
“Everyone is afraid of al Shabaab and that’s why they are not bringing food. When people try to bring food, al Shabaab will stop them and their vehicles are burnt and their donkey-carts are burnt as well.”

SOUNDBITE (English) Judy Cheng-Hopkins, United Nations Assistant Secretary- General for Peacebuilding Support:
“The immediate needs are so high like the shortage of food, vast shortage of food, water supplies it’s so serious from what we have heard from everybody. Number one and number two, this whole question of finishing the business of liberating these areas completely is so high that you have to prioritize things, in terms of the peace building that we normally do.”

SOUNDBITE (English) Abdirahman Hassan, Executive Director of Voluntary Initiative for Social Development:
“What we are dealing with here is youth because of unemployment, because of lack of jobs here, lack of opportunities getting stressed and all that, joining militant groups just to make a living. What we are talking about is people earning 20 dollars to go and lay a bomb on the roadside, such a thing is what we are dealing with here. So the most important thing and what peace building projects usually do is create jobs for them, make them an alternative life, teach them skills we are talking about vocational skills, training skills for them, we are talking about public work so that at least they can make an alternative form of life.”

SOUNDBITE (English) Judy Cheng-Hopkins, United Nations Assistant Secretary- General for Peacebuilding Support:
“I am very happy to say that we’ve just had very fruitful discussions with the Prime Minister. I think we had really quite an in-depth, very frank discussion of the road ahead for this country. It seems very, very promising. So we discussed everything as you can imagine, from the constitutional reform to the new federalism, to what we do in so-called Shabaab cleared areas, to how we can deal with the youth, how can we deal with women groups and generally, how we can have reconciliation and outreach with the local communities that may have felt a little bit left out through the decades, in this new day ahead, in this new future for Somalia.”

SOURCE: CIHAN

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