The United Nations envoy for Somalia, Augustine P. Mahiga, today formally moved his office back to the country’s capital, Mogadishu, from neighbouring Kenya, where it has been based for 17 years.
Mr. Mahiga, who was received at the airport in Mogadishu by Somalia’s Prime Minister, Abdiweli Mohamed Ali, other officials and diplomats, said he was delighted that the UN Political Office for Somalia (UNPOS) will now carry out its work from Mogadishu.
“I sincerely hope that the arrival of the UN Political Office will mark the start of renewed hope for the future of Somalia,” said Mr. Mahiga.
“Being in Mogadishu will allow us to work far more closely with the Transitional Federal Institutions, the UN agencies and NGOs [non-governmental organizations] already based here, civil society and ordinary Somalis. We have much to do and we are eager to get straight to work,” he said.
The last Special Representative of the Secretary-General to be based in Mogadishu was James Victor Gbeho, who worked with the now defunct UN Operations in Somalia II (UNOSOM II), and left in early 1995.
UNPOS was established shortly afterwards and has since been based in Nairobi, the Kenyan capital. Six UN agencies have permanent staff in Mogadishu.
Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said that the relocation of UNPOS was a demonstration of the UN’s strong commitment to working alongside the Somali people and their leaders to build peace, political stability and a hopeful future.
“It will permit intensified political cooperation and engagement toward these goals,” said a statement issued by Mr. Ban’s spokesperson.
Mr. Mahiga is initially moving with a limited number of staff, with additional employees due to follow later as resources and security permits.
The Special Representative of the Secretary-General took part in the raising of the UN flag in the UNPOS compound, before proceeding to Villa Somalia where he was welcomed by President Sheikh Sharif Sheikh Ahmed and presented his credentials.
He then went to the headquarters of the African Union peacekeeping mission in Somalia (AMISOM) where he inspected a guard of honour and paid tribute to the remarkable sacrifice of peacekeepers and the Somali security forces in advancing the cause of peace.
“Without the incredible efforts and sacrifice of the troops from Somalia and other African countries, we would not be here today,” said Mr. Mahiga.
He gave his pledge to the Somali people that the UNPOS relocation to Mogadishu would herald the beginning of a new era of cooperation and political engagement as the current political transitional period comes to an end later this year.