On visit to South West State, Acting UN Special Representative highlights humanitarian and security support Featured

Baidoa – The Acting Special Representative of the Secretary-General for Somalia, James Swan, visited today the South West State, as part of his first round of in-person engagements with Federal Member States’ leaders.

“I am pleased to be back in Baidoa, South West State. I thank President Abdiaziz Hassan Mohamed ‘Laftagareen’ and his team for warmly welcoming me and my colleagues today,” said Mr. Swan at a joint press conference after concluding meetings with the President and members of his Cabinet.

The meetings focused on a wide range of key topics related to security and state-building in Somalia and the South West State.

“I commend President Abdiaziz's commitment to advancing state-building as well as to fight Al-Shabaab in the South West State. The United Nations is committed to supporting the government's efforts to promote peace, stability, and development across Somalia,” noted Mr. Swan.

Among the national priorities discussed were issues related to the constitutional review and plans for elections.

“We acknowledge that President Abdiaziz has played a constructive role in these processes,” said Mr. Swan.

In his remarks, the Acting UN Special Representative also highlighted the effective partnership between the UN in Somalia and the South West State in advancing police development as well as women’s participation in the security system, through collaborative efforts in the Joint Police Programme.

Humanitarian and development concerns
Despite significant resources in agriculture, livestock and fishery, South West State was historically the epicenter of several episodes of severe food shortages. In recent months, climate change and insecurity led to increased food insecurity and prompted larger numbers of people to flee towards urban centers such as Baidoa, looking for livelihood opportunities.

Current statistics show that more than 950,000 people in the Federal Member State’s Bay, Bakool and Lower Shabelle regions experience high levels of acute food insecurity, and almost 370,000 children face global acute malnutrition.

“The UN family and humanitarian partners are also working hand to hand with the South West State to address urgent humanitarian needs of populations,” said Acting UN Special Representative Swan.

UN agencies, funds and programmes present in the South West State provide support to communities and internally displaced people through a wide array of interventions including food assistance, health and education services, and reintegration activities.

Mr. Swan was accompanied by Wafaa Saeed, the Representative of the United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF); René Nijenhuis, the Deputy Head of the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA); and Felicia Mandy Owusu, the Deputy Representative of the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR).

“Our presence together here in South West State is a testimony of the steadfast, collective support of the UN system to the government and people of South West State,” he added.

The Acting UN Special Representative thanked President ‘Laftagareen’ and his government for their strong collaboration.

“Let me conclude by reiterating the UN’s commitment to support South West State in its state- and peace-building priorities and in its response to humanitarian needs and building development for its people,” noted Mr. Swan.

The top UN official previously visited Somalia’s Jubaland and Galmudug states.

James Swan was appointed to his current position by the UN Secretary-General António Guterres on 14 May 2024. He previously served as the the UN chief’s Special Representative for Somalia and Head of UNSOM from 2019 to 2022.