The Minister of Information, Mustafa Duhulow, today addressed the media, providing an update on the progress of the Federal Government of Somalia (FGS) over the last week.
The Minister discussed various issues: the empowerment of women; the reform of transportation system at Mogadishu SeaPort; the removal of Illegal checkpoints; progress in youth empowerment; the rehabilitation of roads in Mogadishu and Jowhar; coordination between AMISOM and humanitarian actors; countering youth radicalization; promoting Somali culture and the progress of the Stabilization Plan.
The empowerment of Women
The Minister of Information began by speaking on the strengthening of participation in the political process by the women of Somalia: “The African Union Special Envoy on Women, Peace and Security, Ms. Bineta Diop, arrived in Mogadishu on 25 November for a four-day official visit. Her visit affirms African Union’s solidarity with the women and children of Somalia. During her visit, Ms. Diop interacted with the women of Somalia as she sought to understand their experiences, aspirations and the many challenges they face.
She had the opportunity to meet Somali leaders as well as ministers, and civil society organizations, with discussions focused on strengthening women’s participation in decision-making structures at all levels, and at the same time increasing their voices in reconstruction and peace-building efforts. She emphasized, in the wake of recent accusations against AMISOM troops, a zero-tolerance approach to sexual exploitation andabuse.
The FGS Minister of Defense, H.E. Mohamed Sheikh Hassan, and Ms Diop held a joint press conference and both underscored the importance of supporting Somali National Army in terms of capacity andprofessionalism so that it will be able to bring peace and stability in Somalia.”
The Reform of Transportation System at Mogadishu Seaport
The Minister of Information spoke on the reform of transportation: “H.E. Said Jama Ali (Qorshel), the Minister of Transport & Civil Aviation, has initiated a reform of Mogadishu Seaport’s transportation of goods. On 25 November 2014 he had a meeting with representatives of the transportation union and discussed with them the best ways to implement the necessary reforms to ensure that transportation is in good condition and that a transparent, fair and accountability system is being implemented. The Minister listened to the concerns of the Union officials and assured to them that the planned system aims toreduce and eventually end all complaints from owners of goods in transportation and the union itself. The Minister said the ultimate aim is to have a system that is just and fair for all concerned parties. He concluded by emphasising the importance of transport owners ensuring that their vehicles are looked after and that they meet the requirements of the owners of the goods being transported.”
The Removal of Illegal Checkpoints
The Minister of Information spoke on the removal of illegal checkpoints: “The Federal Government has been removing illegal checkpoints in Lower Shabelle region for some time. The operations have been successful, as these roads are now free of illegal checkpoints. On 25 November 2014 there was meeting in Wanlaweyn district in Lower Shabelle region attended by local authorities, civil society members and members of the public to discuss on progress in the removal of illegal checkpoints between Afgoye and Wanlaweyn districts. Militia wearing Somali National Army uniforms were levying illegal taxes on vehicles using the road. Some of these individuals have been captured and are facing court charges. Residents in the area warmly welcomed the efforts to remove the illegal checkpoints and they expressed huge relief as these thugs were also terrorizing the people of the area. During a meeting with key stakeholders in the area it was agreed that a committee be formed that will work closely with the security forces and the local administration. Engaging with the community is one of the best ways to solve local issues and the Federal Government is committed to working with communities so that people will take a leading role and feel real ownership of issues that matter to them.”
Youth Empowerment in Somalia
The Minister of Information spoke on progress in youth empowerment: “The Ministry of Youth & Sports have been very active in empowering young people so that they can take part the rebuilding of the nation. On 25 November 2014, young people held an important debate and discussion on establishing an umbrella organisation for young people in Banadir and Lower Shabelle regions. The discussions took place in Merka, the capital of Lower Shabelle region.
Over 100 young people from Banadir, Merka and Barawa participated. The aim was how to establish a coordinating group amongst the young people in Banadir and Lower Shabelle regions to best represent the interests of young people. The Centre for Community Dialogue (CCD) organized the meeting. Osman Sheikh Ali, Deputy Police Commissioner in Merka, emphasized the importance of young people discussing their future and encouraged them to continue discussing their future on a regular basis. Representatives from Banadir, Merka and Barawe agreed to establish an umbrella organisation covering the two regions so that they can enhance the youth agenda and the unity of young people in the country, so that it will be easier to represent the interests of young people in the future.”
The Rehabilitation of Roads in Jowhar and Mogadishu
The Minister of Information spoke on the rehabilitation of roads: “The Federal Government prioritizes the rehabilitation of the national infrastructure, in particular roads, as being fundamental for the flourishing of business. On 25 November 2014 the rehabilitation of the bridge that connects the main roads in Jowhar commenced. The Governor of Middle Shabelle emphasised the importance of this bridge and expressed his hope that once it is completed then the business in the area will start to make progress which in turn helps the living standards of the people in the area. On the other hand the District Commissioner in Warta Nabadda district in Mogadishu on 27 November 2014 starts rehabilitation of roads in the district. The district Commissioner appealed to communities to voluntarily take part the rebuilding of public roads in the district.”
Guidelines to Govern Civil-military Coordination in Somalia
The Minister of Information spoke on the importance of coordination in civil-military affairs: “The African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM) together with the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) on 25 November launched the Somalia Country Specific Guidelines to govern relations on civil-military coordination in Somalia. The launch ceremony was attended by the Special Representative of the Chairperson of the African Union Commission (SRCC) for Somalia and AMISOM Head of Mission, Ambassador Maman S. Sidikou and the Deputy Special Representative of the UN Secretary General to Somalia, Resident Coordinator and Humanitarian
Coordinator (DSRSG/RC/HC), Mr. Philippe Lazzarini. The guidelines aim to establish agreed principles and practices for constructive civil-military relations between AMISOM and humanitarian actors, operating within the same environment in Somalia. The SRCC reiterated the commitment of AMISOM to provide a conducive environment for humanitarian assistance to reach the Somali people. Such guidelines are very important in ensuring better-structured relations and in turn
more effective aid delivery.”
Countering Youth Radicalization through the Media
The Minister of Information spoke on the progress in countering youth radicalization: “A highly interactive roundtable discussion focused on the role of the Media in countering youth radicalization was held in Mogadishu on 23 November 2014 and attracted more than 40 different participants, drawn from the media professionals, civil society leaders and government representatives. The forum, which was co-organized by the National Union of Somali Journalists (NUSOJ) and the Somali Independent Media Houses Association (SIMHA) and supported by the Center for Community Awareness (CCA), aimed to gather ideas and enhance the knowledge and awareness of how media and civil society leaders can counter violent ideologies through grassroots efforts and by helping the communities better understand and protect themselves.
It also gave an important platform for the exchange of knowledge and experience on how media leaders and civil society activists can contribute not only to countering radicalization, but also to lay the foundation for reconciliation and durable peace in the country.
The Minister of Information, HE Mustafa Duhulow, officially opened the forum and highlighted the importance of such forums. He also urged the organizers to hold such forums in the other regions. The minister further noted that unemployment amongst the youth could be contributing to radicalization by extremist ideologies. The Secretary General of the National Union of Somali Journalists (NUSOJ), Mr. Mohamed Ibrahim, and the Chairman of CCA, Mr Mohamed Ajiib highlighted the need to find a strategy to combat issues related to violent ideologies and to find alternative mechanisms for the promotion of
peace and co-existence.”
Promoting Somali Culture
The Minister of Information spoke on the promotion of Somali culture: “On 26 November 2014, I participated a well organized event in Mogadishu to promote the beauty of Somali culture called ‘Somali Culture night’. The Center for Community Awareness (CCA) organized the event and I was very privileged to be asked to attend. The aim of the event was to highlight the beauty of Somali culture and to raise awareness of the richness of our culture amongst our young people.
The event presented different elements of the arts from across Somalia, including dancing, singing, poems, and all sorts of arts. CCA and myself would like to emphasise the importance of cultural awareness campaigns like this, as this will provide young people with an alternative to joining extremist or terrorist groups. We encourage our youths to learn about their culture and to take part in cultural awareness programmes, so that they can show to the world the beauty of Somali culture.”
Progress of the Stabilisation Plan
The Minister of Information finally spoke on the progress on the Stabilisation Plan: “The Federal Government is committed to the implementation of the Stabisation Plan as it is the key to peace and development in Somalia. In Mogadishu, security forces captured a number of Al-Shabaab terrorists while they were preparing for an attack on civilians. Somali National Army has also been conducting operations in Bay, Bakol and Gedo regions. As a result they have captured Al-Shabaab thugs who were guilty of terrorising the people in the area. General Ibrahim Yarow, the commander in the area, stated that the stabilization plan is progressing very well and thanked people for their cooperation and for working closely with them to defeat the threat from terrorists and criminals.”