UNDP Deputy cites 'exciting moment' in Somalia's history

Feb 20, 2013

UN Under Secretary-General and UNDP Associate Administrator Rebeca Grynspan meets with Somalia's President Hassan Sheikh Mohamud in Mogadishu. (Photo: UNDP)

Rebeca Grynspan is most senior UN official to visit Mogadishu in 20 years

Mogadishu, Somalia – UN Development Programme (UNDP) Associate Administrator Rebeca Grynspan this week became the highest-ranking UN official to visit the Somali capital in two decades, calling this “an incredibly exciting moment” to build lasting peace.

Ms. Grynspan met Wednesday with President Hassan Sheikh Mohamud, civil society representatives, police recruits at the police training academy, UNDP Somalia staff, and the Special Representative of the Secretary-General for the UN Political Office for Somalia, Augustine Mahiga.

“This is an incredibly exciting moment in Somalia’s history,” she said. ”For the first time in two decades, there is a real opportunity to build lasting peace. UNDP is privileged to be working closely with the new federal government during this time to help shape a new future for this war-torn nation.”

Ms. Grynspan, who also serves as UN Under Secretary-General, congratulated President Mohamud and the new federal government and affirmed UNDP’s commitment to work with the government to ensure that the peaceful transition of 2012 leads to a more stable Somalia.

Somalia marked a political watershed in August when it swore in a formal parliament and ended a so-called “transition” phase, begun with the 2004 launch of a UN-backed interim government for the Horn of Africa country. The previous functioning government ended in 1991 with the overthrow of Mohamed Siad Barre.

Strengthening institutions, particularly the police and justice sectors, is top priority for UNDP’s support to Somalia in 2013 and beyond, in alignment with Government priorities.

President Mohamud thanked UNDP for its increased engagement in Mogadishu and called for more capacity-building support to government institutions, which he described as essential to creating an accountable, transparent government.

UNDP’s Somalia country office is currently relocating to Mogadishu from Nairobi, Kenya, where it has been based since 1994.

Scaling up protection of human rights, including protection of journalists and victims of sexual and gender-based violence, ranks as a high priority for the Government and UNDP, Ms. Grynspan said, adding: “Strengthening rule of law in Somalia is a long-term process.”

“Somalia is emerging from two decades of conflict. Institutions have suffered and even at some points ceased to function. The political transition presents the most significant opportunity in 20 years to rebuild these institutions and ensure Somali citizens’ basic needs are met and human rights are protected,” she said. “It is crucial that the international community, including UNDP, commit to long-term support for the citizens of Somalia to strengthen these institutions under the guiding principles of human rights and accountability.”

Meeting recruits at the Mogadishu Police Training Academy, she stressed the importance of police in defending human rights and strengthening security, and commended the Police Advisory Committee, which oversees police work and police detention in Mogadishu.

Civil society organizations working with UNDP in Somalia stressed the importance of defending human rights, focusing on capacity-building, and addressing the development needs of women and young people. 

Opportunities for youth needed

Somali youth—more than 70 percent of the population is younger than 30—face unique challenges and need expanded access to education and jobs, which reduces the likelihood that they might turn to piracy, militancy, and crime. UNDP’s 2012 Somalia Human Development Report—based on surveys in more than 3,000 households—found that while most Somali youth believe they have a right to be educated and a right to decent work, multiple structural barriers stand in their way.
This lack of education and employment opportunities, in addition to clan and cultural prejudices, has created a high level of frustration and discontentment among young people, the report said, noting that Somali development and humanitarian indices remain among the lowest in the world. Overall unemployment among people aged 15-64 is estimated at 54 percent in Somalia, up from 47 percent in 2002, while the jobless rate among those aged 14-29 is 67 percent—one of the highest rates in the world.

UNDP Somalia this month joined with the international shipping industry to tackle piracy by providing job alternatives for young Somalis, signing a US$1 million agreement that will fund activities in 2013-2014.

Through the initiative, youth in Puntland and Central Somalia will receive start-up grants and basic tools necessary to establish new businesses or expand existing ones in livestock, fisheries and trade sectors. 

The aim is to provide sustainable and practical alternatives to piracy as a source of income, and reduce the threat of hijack and kidnap for seafarers travelling near Somalia’s lengthy coastline. In 2012, there were 75 reported incidents of piracy off Somalia’s coast and a total of 250 hostages taken, according to the International Chamber of Commerce.

Contact information

Communications Specialist, Aimee Brown:
Mogadishu: +252 616 108 572
Nairobi: +254 731 859 413

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