Statement from the United Nations System in Somalia on its support to contain COVID-19

Mr. James Swan, Special Representative ofthe Secretary-General and Head ofthe United Nations Assistance Mission in Somalia (UNSOM) The situation in Somalia Report of the Secretary-General on Somalia (S/2019/661)

Mogadishu, 31 March 2020 – Somalia, like many other countries in the world, is facing the unprecedented challenge of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic.

“The UN family in Somalia stands shoulder-to-shoulder with the people of Somalia during this testing time. We will continue to support all efforts to address the immediate health and long-term socio-economic impact of COVID-19,” said James Swan, the Special Representative of the UN Secretary-General for Somalia. “We must all unite to prevent the spread of the virus. We need to pay particular attention to the most vulnerable in our communities, including internally displaced people, the infirm and the elderly.”

The United Nations appeals to everyone in Somalia to come together in this fight against the pandemic.

“We echo the call of the Secretary-General for an immediate global ceasefire to put aside violence, mistrust, hostilities and animosity, and to focus on battling the virus, not each other”, said Mr. Swan. “This is essential in order for life saving assistance to reach communities across the country. Here in Somalia, the United Nations calls for a cessation of acts of violence and terrorism so that all resources and support can be channeled to fight the COVID-19 pandemic.”

To reinforce the ongoing efforts to contain COVID-19 at the federal and state levels as well as limit the possibility of further spread of the virus, the United Nations has established system-wide operating, medical and support procedures. A task force has been established to ensure business continuity and agencies have developed a detailed preparedness and response plan in support of the Government’s efforts.“Our robust support to Somalia continues,” said the Deputy Special Representative of the Secretary-General, Resident and Humanitarian Coordinator for Somalia, Adam Abdelmoula. “All agencies remain engaged and continue to deliver critical assistance to those most in need.”

The World Health Organization (WHO), the specialized UN agency for health, continues to support the Somali health sector by scaling up its operational readiness and response to COVID-19. WHO’s support has been essential to rapidly establish a mechanism for testing and confirmation of suspected cases, and isolating suspected cases to prevent onward transmission.

“The WHO is heavily engaged with the Somali health authorities for case findings, contact tracing, testing, isolation and containment activities with the intention of virus suppression and delaying patient surge,” said Dr. Mamunur Rahman Malik, the WHO Country Representative in Somalia. “We will continue to work as One UN and keep the country safe showing our solidarity, unity and partnership with the government.”

For its part, the United Nations Support Office in Somalia (UNSOS) continues to carry out its mandate to provide logistics support to the African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM), as well as elements of the Somalia security forces engaged in joint security operations with AMISOM. The UN COVID-19 Response Task Force Coordinator, UNSOS Director Amadu Kamara, is joining the Somali national task force for COVID-19 response. In this context, UNSOS and AMISOM were able to assist the Somali government to respond to the first suspected COVID-19 cases.

Other UN agencies and programmes are supporting the implementation of the COVID-19 response plan by providing technical expertise and logistics to the Federal Government and federal member states. Some of these are training health workers, providing equipment for isolation centres, including testing kits, personal protective gear, expanding early detection capabilities and scaling up hygiene responses. To address one of the most pressing needs, the UN’s World Food Programme plans to distribute two months’ worth of food rations in anticipation of the deteriorating situation.

“The world is facing an unprecedented crisis that requires a swift and decisive response. We, as the UN family, will continue working side by side with the Government to ensure the Somali people are protected, while still maintaining our regular life-saving activities that address the needs of the most vulnerable Somalis,” Mr Abdelmoula added.