Good afternoon, Mr. President, honorable members of the cabinet and members of the press.
I would like to begin by thanking you – President Said Abdullahi Deni, your government and the people of Puntland for the warm welcome we received during our visit here in Garowe.
It is a pleasure to be back in Garowe, on one of my regular visits to Federal Member States. I am also honored to be joined today by the head of UNFPA, Mr. Adeniyi Ojuolape, as well as the head of our field office in Garowe, Mr. Guy Griffin.
In our meeting today with President Deni and members of his cabinet, we discussed a range of local and national issues of importance.
President Deni and I exchanged ideas on how best to move Somali state-building processes forward now that a new federal government is in place. We discussed the importance of extensive collaboration between the federal government and federal member states to advance national priorities.
President Deni reiterated his strong commitment to Puntland’s democratization process, following the completion of the first phase of local elections last year in Eyl, Ufeyn and Qardho. He informed me of the Puntland Transitional Election Commission’s initial plans to roll out the process to other districts. I stressed that the United Nations stands ready to provide support and indeed a visiting UN technical team is meeting with TPEC today.
I commend the government and people of Puntland for their continued commitment to direct local elections, as enshrined in the Constitution of Puntland. We hope that your efforts here will also inspire and support the broader process of democratization across Somalia, at federal and local levels.
Regarding security, I expressed my concern over the disturbing incident last week at Bossaso airport. President Deni assured me of the commitment and active efforts of the Government to ensure the maintenance of stability and promote reconciliation.
The current drought is a crisis that is causing need and suffering across Somalia and the region. The scale of the challenge is immense, although it is clear from our discussions that the Government of Puntland and the humanitarian community are doing all they can to meet it. UN agencies are already responding through urgent cash transfer programmes, nutritional assistance, water and sanitation support and health services. However, the situation is dire and we all know there is still a lot to do. To this end, the UN continues to advocate with the donor community to mobilize more resources to address this challenge across the country and here in Puntland.
Once again, I thank the President and the people of Puntland for their warm welcome today.