The United Nations today re-established its political presence in Mogadishu.
The “historic step” will allow the world body to work more closely with Somalia during a crucial period in its peace process.
Secretary-General’s Special Representative Augustine P. Mahigato moved to the capital of the Horn of Africa nation from Nairobi along with a number of his core staff from the UN Political Office for Somalia (UNPOS)after an absence of 17 years.
The move comes one and half months after Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon announced during his visit to Mogadishu that the UN office will relocate to the city to provide further assistance at what he called a “critical juncture” for the future of the Somali people.
Ambassador Mahiga, who was welcomed at the airport by Prime Minister Abdiweli Mohamed Ali, Somali Officials and foreign diplomats, said he was delighted that the UN Political Office for Somalia (UNPOS) would now be working from the capital.
“This is a historic step. It is now up to us to make up for lost time.” -Mr. Mahiga
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 the Kenyan capital, Nairobi.
“Being on the ground will allow us to be closer to all the stakeholders – the Transitional Federal Institutions and other administrations, civil society, NGOs [non-governmental organizations], business people, journalists and ordinary Somalis.” – Mr. Mahiga
Mr. Mahiga stressed that daily interaction will help them understand each other and to work together in a more imaginative and constructive manner at this crucial period in the peace process.
Security remains the single most critical challenge confronting the transitional federal institutions.
The TFG in Mogadishu, the capital, has been under attack from Al-Shabaab and other Islamist militants controlling the south and hundreds of thousands of civilians have been driven from their homes by the conflict.
The presence of foreign extremist fighters in Somalia is a constant reminder of the high risk that the Horn of Africa is rapidly becoming the next front in global efforts against international terrorism.