The Special Representative of the UN Secretary-General for Somalia (SRSG) Nicholas Kay congratulated the country today for its 55th independence anniversary. The representative praised the effort of the Somali people, and particularly the current government, in rebuilding a safer and more stable Somalia, following over two decades of civil war.
The country is still struggling, and to date, has not yet overcome the threat of the extremist group Al Shabab. The insurgency and terrorist activities of the organisation have taken scores of lives over the years, unfortunately often spreading across borders too. The latest attack of Al Shabab on African Union troops stationed in Lego, 90 km from the capital Mogadishu, claimed the lives of over 60 Burundian soldiers. Only yesterday, the African Union Peacekeeping Force, known as AMISOM, announced the withdrawal of its troops from 3 bases in Lego, Daynile and Torotorow as a result of the attack.
Further to the civil situation, the country is also suffering from a long term refugee crisis. Two decades of internal conflict have displaced high numbers of people. 23 000 persons have been evicted from the capital alone since last January, according to UNHCR report. Only recently, at the beginning of last month, the Minister of Women & Human Rights Development of Somalia, Sahra Mohamed Ali Samantar, warned of the depressing situation of the refugees fleeing from Yemen. While the country is working to resolve the issue of already existing refugees and internally displaced population, the extra intake will only add more pressure on a struggling government.
However, during his speech, SRSG Nicholas Kay emphasised on the state building process throughout the regions, including the establishment of the Interim Jubba Administration, the Interim South West Administration and the Galmudug Regional Administration, in addition to institution-building in Puntland. The transformation of Somalia into a federal state is a key component to achieve the Vision 2016, which also includes the creation of new political, democratic and electoral processes. During an Iftar program with members of his party few days ago, the President Hassan Sheikh Mohamud reiterated his commitment to the elections 2016.
Finally, this morning, the President called upon the medias to play their role in building national unity. In an official statement, he asked from all media organisations to not fall in the trap of press propaganda and to take on their responsibilities in the state building process. 55 years of independence and over 20 years of civil war have created large drifts in a mainly tribal society. While the government of President Hassan Sheikh is making good progress to fill this national unity gap, the independence anniversary is a reminder of the biggest challenge to overcome.