Weekly Press Conference on the Progress of the Government

DhuxulowHE the Minister for Information, Mustafa Duhulow, today addressed the media in Mogadishu, providing an update on the progress of the Federal Government of Somalia (FGS) over the last week. The Minister discussed various issues including: the closure of radio stations, the re-opening of Somali National University, UAE’s humanitarian assistance to the people of Somalia,the new operations theatre by the SIU, the campaign to reduce female mortality during delivery of babies, the Global Initiatives on Somali Refugees, the Child Protection Policy and the successes of the Somalisecurity forces against extremists.

The Minister of Information began by commenting on the closures of radio stations: “On 21 August 2014 Dr Ahmed Ali Dahir, the Attorney General said that the operation related to the closure of Radio Shabelle and Radio SKY FM (operating in the same office) and the detention of station staff was conducted legally, in order to immediately stop the deliberate incitement and provocation that the two radio stations were airing. These two radio stations were broadcasting live and calling upon the people to rise up in an illegal, clannish manner, inciting them to attack the security forces while they were in the process of conducting the disarmament process in the city. As a result of these broadcasts there were demonstrations in some parts of the city that led to killing of innocent people. 18 of those detained were released within 48 hours. However, 3 people remain in custody as we believe that they were directly responsible for the provocative broadcasts made on Friday 15 August. On 17th

August the Banadir Regional Court Judge granted an extension of their detention by 21 days in order to complete the investigations. After the investigation is completed the case will be brought to court to face trial. The Attorney General has received complaints of torture against the 3 detainees, and he immediately ordered an investigation to the matter. However, I can confirm to you that the Banadir Regional Judge, having investigated the accusations, found no substance to allegations of torture and declared these allegations to be pure fabrication. We will never allow Somali citizens to be subject of torture and the Attorney General ordered all security institutions to be very mindful and sensitive when dealing with citizens. These institutions must carry out their duties without any violations of human rights. The Attorney General’s Office is there to uphold the rule of law and to protect citizens from any harm or human rights violations, which is their legal right as stipulated in our provisional constitution.”

The Minister for Information spoke on the re-opening of the Somali National University: “On 16 August 2014 the Board of Directors announced the opening of the Somali National University for the first time in 24 years. (Somali National University was closed after the collapse of Somali institutions in 1991.) H.E. Hassan Sheikh Mohamud, the President of Somalia chaired the meeting as he is the Chairperson of the Board of Directors of the University. The meeting discussed thecurriculum, faculties, the budget and other important issues. H.E. Duale Adan Mohamed, the Minister of Higher Education & Culture spoke to media after the meeting and stated that the President officially announced that the Somali National University is officially open as of 16 August 2014. The Federal Government is committed to providingquality education for students and this step is a milestone achievement on the way towards that goal.”

The Minister for Information praised UAE for providing humanitarian assistance: “On 18 August the Government of the United Arab Emirates (UAE) provided humanitarian assistance to the people of Somalia. The Minister for Interior & Federalism, H.E. Abdullahi Godah Barre officially received the food aid from the UAE’s Ambassador to Somalia, H.E. Mohamed Al-Othman. The humanitarian assistance is intended for the people in drought affected areas. The UAE Government responded the Federal Government of Somalia’s calls for urgent humanitarian assistance for the affected people of Somalia. The Khalifa Bin Zayid institution was the implementing agency. We would like to extend our gratitude to the government of UAE for their continuing generosity and i hope that other countries will follow suit in order to alleviate the suffering of our people who are so desperately in need of food aid.”

The Minister for Information spoke on the new operating theatre of the Somali International University: “The Minister for Higher Education and I were among officials who attended the opening of a new operating theatre at the Somali International University (SIU) on 19 August 2014. The new operating theatre is a modern facility intended for the practice operations on humans as the SIU now has 5 bodies that students can practice on. We also had the opportunity to visit other departments within the university such as laboratories, classrooms and the library. Professor Yahye Ali Ibrahim, the Rector of the SIU,emphasized the importance of the new Lab and said that this will benefit the students enormously as it will allow them to gain the necessary practical experience needed prior to becoming fully qualified doctors. He also said that this was as a result of previous agreement with Kenyatta University in Kenya in the areas of research, students’ exchanges and the sharing of experience. I was very impressed to see the dedication and commitment of SIU officials and ask them to continue all these new initiatives that will enhance the quality of education in Somalia. The Minister for Higher Education praised the excellent work of the university and re-affirmed the ministry’s commitment to work with all private universities in order to achieve the overall goal of the government, to provide quality education for everyone. The Minister also said that the ministry is now finalizing legislation on Higher Education in Somalia which he

will table at the cabinet very soon.” The Minister for Information spoke on efforts to reduce female mortality during delivery of babies: “The Prime Minister, H.E Abdiweli Sheikh Ahmed, on 19 August participated in a ceremony to launch a campaign to reduce the mortality rate of mothers during pregnancy and during the delivery of new born babies. The Ministry of Health and various international agencies are working on this campaign. Ministers, MPs, diplomats and other officials were present at the ceremony. H.E. Ali Mohamed Mohamud, the new Minister for Health, stated that the Federal Government puts great emphasis on reducing the mortality rates of both mothers and children during birth. Currently there are shortages of dedicated maternity facilities in the country and it is absolutely critical and important for Somali mothers to have full medical service. The Prime Minister emphasized the importance of this campaign and asked all parties concerned to work together in order to stop our mothers dying for lack of medical care. Somali PM said our women deserve better medical treatment and care. I appeal to our international friends and allies to support this important campaign.”

The Minister for Information praised neighboring countries’ efforts towards Somali refugees: “H.E the Prime Minister of Somalia, Abdiweli Sheikh Ahmed, visited Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, to deliberate the issue of refugees and to launch the Global Initiative on Somali Refugees (GISR}. The governments of Djibouti, Ethiopia, Kenya, Somalia, Uganda and Yemen, the African Union, the Inter-Governmental Authority on Development, the United Nations Special Representative of the Secretary-General for Somalia, the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa and the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees all attended. Upon the conclusion of the Ministerial Meeting on 20 August 2014 they launched the Global Initiative on Somali Refugees. H.E the Prime Minister stated that there are over 1 million Somalis living as refugees in neighboring countries as well as another million who are internally displaced as a result of conflict, drought and famine and other ills afflicting the Somali nation. H.E the Prime Minister expressed the deeply felt gratitude of the Somali people for the asylum accorded to them and for the kind hospitality with which way they have been hosted by their brothers and sisters in the five neighboring countries represented at the meeting. The Federal Government of Somalia provided the impetus to the search for solutions to alleviate the suffering of Somali refugees and this has led to the setting up of the National Agency for Refugees, Returnees and IDPs. One of its immediate tasks was to embark on negotiations with Kenya, which hosts over 500,000 Somali refugees, the largest group anywhere in the world. This resulted in the signing on Nov 10th 2013 of a Tripartite Agreement for Voluntary Repatriation of Somali refugees living in Kenya. The Federal Government of Somalia is committed to working with all parties in order to find a lasting solution to bring Somali refugees home so that they can make valuable contribution to the rebuilding of the nation.”

The Minister of Information spoke on a 4-day Workshop to draft the Federal Government of Somalia’s Child Protection Policy: “ A four day consultative workshop was jointly convened by Federal Government of Somalia and civil society groups, supported by AMISOM. The focus of the workshop was how the current policy can be further developed to ensure protection and welfare of the rights of children. The Minister of Women and Human Rights, Honorable Khadija Mohamed Diriye, thanked AMISOM and the representatives of civil society groups for the initiative, saying that the policy will be in line with the African Charter on the Rights and Welfare of Children and the Gender Policy.

The Minister of Women said, “The policy will assist our government in monitoring, reporting and taking necessary measures to improve the rights of children because children are the future of this country”.

The policy will be implemented based on the African Charter on the Rights and Welfare of the Child in order to guide the process of developing legislation and implementation of an Action Plan that will promote equal rights and opportunities for children in the specific context of Somalia. During the four days of consultation workshops, participants worked together to identify key areas of priorities, the challenges and also strategies to tackle child issues while also learning from the experience of other countries. AMISOM Chief of Staff, Ambassador Epiphanie Kabushemeye Ntamwana welcomed the formulation of the policy, saying this is a big milestone towards the achievement of the Millennium Development Goals. “The African Union remains highly committed to taking concrete actions in supporting the Federal Government of Somalia to continue efforts to tackle child focused issues and to put in place relevant strategies to tackle them” said Ambassador Epiphanie.”

The Minister of Information concluded by highlighting recent security successes: “The Somali National Army supported by AMISOM troops seized control of Tiyeglow district and other nearby villages in Bakol region from al Shabaab. Tiyeglow is a strategic location in Bakol region and this is part of the military operation campaign against terrorist group. Traditional leaders, intellectuals and the people of Tiyeglow gave a warm welcome to the SNA and the supporting AMISOM forces. The SNA and AMISOM also recovered some villages in Gedo and Hiraan regions. Military operations against the terrorists are going very well and it will only be a matter of time before al-Shabaab no longer holds any territory in Somalia. However, we need to be ready for a shift in al-Shabaab’s tactics to the only option they have left, terrorist attacks. This is all part of the long term plan for the return of peace, stability and prosperity to Somalia.”

ENDS

 

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