Somalia’s destiny lies in the hands of the people, highlights outgoing UN envoy

Special Representative of the Secretary-General for Somalia and head of UNSOM Michael Keating briefs the Security Council on the situation in the African country.UN Photo/Eskinder Debebe

Special Representative of the Secretary-General for Somalia and head of UNSOM Michael Keating briefs the Security Council on the situation in the African country.

Despite remarkable achievements in Somalia in the recent past, structural challenges remain and continue to undermine the country’s security and political stability, the United Nations envoy for the country has warned.

Briefing the Security Council for the last time in his capacity as UN Special Representative for Somalia, Michael Keating called on all Somalis to draw strength from the positive transformations going on inside the country and work collectively for the common good.

“The future of Somalia is in the hands of the Somalis,” he declared.

In particular, Mr. Keating – who also heads the UN Assistance Mission in Somalia (UNSOM) – urged unity among political leaders.

“The more [they] show unity, the greater the opportunity, and the responsibility, of international partners to invest in all parts of the country and its leadership,” he said.

In his remarks, Mr. Keating highlighted four key concerns the country’s leaders need to address, and issues that the international community should keep focusing on.

These include the threat posed by the Al Shabaab and other extremist groups; the risk of political differences overshadowing progress in legislative, reform and security areas; fragmentation within the international community; and the danger of a humanitarian “catastrophe”, especially with most of the population already living in precarious circumstances due to climate change and other vulnerabilities.

“Future crises will result from the combination of climate related shocks; armed conflict provoked by Al Shabaab and unresolved grievances; competition over natural resources; and systemic marginalization of certain groups,” warned Mr. Keating. He underscored the need to reduce the vulnerability faced by ordinary Somalis, through job creation and smart investments that safeguard natural resources and help unlock the enormous economic potential of the country.

Besides political will, Mr. Keating underscored, success will depend on leaders from the political, business and traditional spheres “working together for the common good, leveraging the country’s potential wealth to transform prospects for people – especially the young.”