Somalia: Statement by H.E. Mr. Abukar Dahir Osman Ambassador Permanent Representative of the Federal Republic of Somalia to the United Nations on Friday, August 28th, 2020 (28.08.2020)

Sudan: Violence in Eastern Sudan – Kassala and Red Sea – Flash Update No. 2 (27.08.2020)

SOMA & SJS – Joint Statement: Somalia’s new media law threat to media freedom and rights of journalists (26.08.2020)

Somalia: Ministry of Information, Culture and Tourism – Press Release (26.08.2020)

Somalia: Puntland-Jubaland Joint Communique (21.08.2020)

UNSOM: Somalia at a critical juncture, as federal, state leaders, meet to break election impasse (21.08.2020)

Elections slated for November delayed due to COVID-19.

NEW YORK, United States of America, August 21, 2020 – With elections slated for November delayed due to COVID-19, Somalia is at a critical juncture, the top United Nations official in the country told the Security Council on Thursday, pressing federal and state leaders to agree on voting modalities, and bolster the capacity of forces which are meant to assume full control of national security, next year.

“We understand that there are strongly held divergent views among the leaders and political tensions are high in this pre-electoral period”, said James Swan, Special Representative and head of the UN Assistance Mission in Somalia (UNSOM).  “Yet, it is precisely during such moments that it is most necessary for the nation’s leaders to engage in dialogue.”

He described the current dilemma to ambassadors, whereby Parliament must be elected through universal direct suffrage, according to the Provisional Federal Constitution.

However, the Constitution also stipulates that Parliamentary elections must be held every four years – meaning that elections are due by the end of this coming November.  It is impossible to satisfy both of these requirements, he said. Broad agreement is needed.

Leaders convene

In an effort to reach a compromise, Somali leaders convened in Dhusamareeb this week, he said, commending President Mohamed Abdillahi Mohamed “Farmajo” and the presidents of the Federal member states of Galmudug, Hirshabelle and South West for their participation.  “It is incumbent on Somalia’s leaders to rise to this moment in history and pursue agreement in the national interest”, he asserted.

Upsurge in al-Shabaab attacks

On the security front, he described a “worrying upsurge” in al-Shabaab attacks, particularly in Mogadishu, drawing attention to the 16 August assault on the Elite Hotel and an unquestionable need for “hard security” operations to counter the group.

Indeed, Somalia is to take the lead on its security matters in 2021, he said, and while Federal authorities have completed a concept note for updating the transition plan, force generation has faced setbacks in meeting 2020 projections, owing to COVID-19.

Floods, drought, locust swarms compound pressures

On the humanitarian front, he described recurring cycles of floods and drought, compounded by desert locusts and COVID-19, stressing that more than 5 million people – one third of Somalia’s population — still require aid, and that the $1 billion Humanitarian Appeal is funded at around 50 per cent.

He expressed hope that the new Government and Prime Minister, once appointed, will accelerate the reform agenda for national development.

“Progress in Somalia requires a long-term commitment to governance, justice, respect for human rights, and inclusion of women, youth, and minorities to build the nation”, he said.

He also raised objections, in line with other senior UN rights officials, to a bill introduced in Parliament titled, “The Law on Sexual Intercourse Related Crimes”, which would violate protections against child marriage and forced marriage, as well as international human rights commitments to which Somalia is party.

Somaliland: Ministry of Foreign Affairs & International Cooperation – Press Statement

Somalia: Statement by the Federal Republic of Somalia on Taiwan’s violation of the territoral integrity of Somalia (18.08.2020)

Somalia: Floods drive over 650,000 Somalis from their homes in 2020 (07.08.2020)

More than 150,000 Somalis have been forced to flee their homes since late June, including some 23,000 in the last week alone.

GENEVA, Switzerland, August 7, 2020 – This is a summary of what was said by UNHCR spokesperson Charlie Yaxley – to whom quoted text may be attributed – at today’s press briefing at the Palais des Nations in Geneva.

More than 150,000 Somalis have been forced to flee their homes since late June, including some 23,000 in the last week alone, due to flash and riverine flooding in the Southern regions of Somalia. Rapid assessments indicate that communities in Hirshabelle and South West States are amongst the worst hit. The year has seen extreme flooding, displacing over 650,000 people across the country since the beginning of the year.

Many of the newly displaced are now living in overcrowded, makeshift shelters constructed from old clothes, plastic bags, cardboard and sticks in already dire IDP sites. Such shelter provides little protection from the harsh weather, and leaves families exposed to increased risk of crimes like robbery and rape.

Food is in short supply and many are going hungry with rising malnutrition in children, leaving them at risk of starvation. In some areas, basic food items, particularly milk and vegetables, have increased in price between 20 and 50 per cent.

Sanitary conditions are poor and access to medical care scarce. Health partners warn of risk of diarrhoea, vector-borne diseases, respiratory-tract infections and other communicable diseases rapidly spreading amongst the displaced population. While there has been no reported major COVID-19 outbreak, testing remains extremely limited and congestion and unsanitary conditions are risks for wide-spread transmission. UNHCR, the UN Refugee Agency, has been providing core relief items such as blankets, jerry cans and plastic sheets, as well as shelter and cash to thousands of affected families. Distributions will continue in the coming days and weeks, reaching a total of some 70,000 people facing heightened vulnerabilities, including women, female/child headed households, disabled persons, the elderly and ill, and vulnerable members of the hosting community.

UNHCR’s assistance is reaching some of the worst affected regions across Banaadir, South West, Hirshabelle, Jubbaland, Puntland, Galmaduug. The Federal Government of Somalia has also responded to the floods, including in recent weeks setting aside USD 500,000 to address the floods in South West state. Despite these interventions, however, more humanitarian support is needed to address insecurities in food, water and sanitation, emergency shelter and health services.

More people risk being displaced as flooding is likely to continue in certain regions. According to the latest flood advisory report by the UN Food and Agriculture Organisation, the Shabelle River’s water levels will continue to rise due to heavy rains.

The latest floods point to a worrying pattern where extreme weather conditions are increasing in frequency and intensity. Prior to June 2020, flash floods and riverine flooding caused by seasonal rains displaced more than 450,000 in the country. With floods in 2018 and 2019 displacing 281,000 and 416,000 persons respectively, the flood-based displacement figures demonstrate a rising year-to-year trend. Somalia’s re-occurring climate related emergencies result in devastating impact on communities who heavily rely on farming and livestock for their livelihood.

The surging flooding and displacement take place against the backdrop of Somalia’s ongoing fight to curtail the spread of Covid-19, which has a disproportionate impact on the most vulnerable, including the displaced. The Government of Somalia, UNHCR and humanitarian partners continue to work in IDP settlements across the country to provide displaced communities and vulnerable hosting communities with medical equipment, protective personal equipment (PPE), hygiene and sanitation support, and cash assistance. UNHCR urges landlords in the country to uphold a moratorium on evictions in these extremely challenging circumstances.

Urgent support is needed from the international community to support the relief efforts. UNHCR has so far received just 33 per cent of the USD154.4 million needed for its humanitarian efforts in Somalia, including for an estimated 2.6 million IDPs and 30,000 refugees and asylum seekers being hosted in the country.

Sudan: COVID-19, flooding and pockets of violence continue to drive humanitarian needs in Sudan (07.08.2020)

Since the start of the pandemic, over 36,000 children in White Nile received psychosocial support to deal with stress caused by COVID-19.

KHARTOUM, Sudan, August 7, 2020 – Number of COVID-19 transmissions continue to increase in Sudan. Nearly 11,800 people had contracted the virus, including 763 who died from the disease, as of 3 August.

Since the start of the pandemic, over 36,000 children in White Nile received psychosocial support to deal with stress caused by COVID-19.

Meanwhile, humanitarians and the Government are providing life-saving assistance to people who lost their houses, food and livelihoods during the recent floods across the country. More than 50,000 people have been affected so far.

Aid organizations are also assisting millions of people across Sudan in a monthly basis, despite the challenges posed by COVID-19, insecurity and the economic crisis.