The Assistant Secretary-General for Peacebuilding Support, Judy Cheng-Hopkins, today concluded a five-day visit to Somalia, announcing an additional US$7 million in support of peacebuilding activities in newly recovered areas of south-central Somalia.
“We are committed to spending $10 million very fast under the UN Peacebuilding Fund’s (PBF) Immediate Response Facility,” ASG Cheng-Hopkins said. “Somalia still has internal problems, and still has a problem with Al Shabaab and with other groups, but there are sufficient windows of opportunity in certain parts of the country where we should invest now in peacebuilding so that peace sustainability can be preserved.”
On 19 March, the Special Representative of the UN Secretary-General for Somalia, Nicholas Kay, announced the allocation of $3 million from the PBF to support stabilisation efforts in newly recovered areas. The UN Assistance Mission in Somalia(UNSOM), in collaboration with the Ministry of Interior and Federalism, is currently finalising the first project to release these funds. The funds announced by ASG Cheng-Hopkins are in addition to this, and are expected to boost the capacity of local government, facilitate reconciliation efforts at the grassroots level and fund public works projects for youth and other vulnerable groups, among other things.
ASG Cheng-Hopkins said the PBF was investigating peacebuilding needs in Somalia in consultation with the Federal Government, regional leadership, civil society and donors.
“One project that comes to mind is what we can do for defectors, the so-called disengaged combatants from Al Shabaab and other militias, how we can reintegrate these youth back into society by giving them skills, by giving them an opportunity for livelihood so that they don’t fall back into these activities that are the root of the instability in Somalia,” she said.
Speaking with ASG Cheng-Hopkins, women’s groups in Mogadishu expressed their desire for a stronger role in Somalia’s political developments, such as the constitutional review process. The ASG stressed that the UN believes in empowering women both politically and economically to give them confidence to play their role in society, and her department is keen to support broad consultations in constitutional, electoral and other national processes.
During her trip, which included visits to Mogadishu, Kismayo and Hudur, ASG Cheng-Hopkins met with, among others, Prime Minister Abdiweli Sheikh Ahmed, Speaker of the Federal Parliament Mohamed Osman Jawari, leaders of local administrations, civil society, women’s groups, the youth and traditional elders. Some key areas of discussion included the need to develop public works projects to bring visible symbols of peace to the Somali people; the need to train local government officials and the role of civil society in the peacebuilding process.
The UN Secretary-General declared Somalia eligible to access the Peacebuilding Fund in December 2013. The Fund was set up in 2006 following a request from the General Assembly and the Security Council to support peace-building efforts in countries emerging from conflict or political crisis.