The United Nations top envoy in Somalia on Sunday called for dialogue to help address challenges facing Somalia’s semi-autonomous region of Somaliland, Xinhua reports.
James Swan, special representative of the UN secretary-general for Somalia who made a two-day visit to Somaliland capital of Hargeisa, urged further efforts by political leaders in Somaliland to organize parliamentary and local elections.
“I want to take this occasion to emphasize the importance of building and maintaining open channels of communication to resolve differences peacefully and constructively,” the UN envoy said in a statement issued in Mogadishu after the visit.
Somaliland, which has not received international recognition as Mogadishu still considers it as part of the Horn of African nation, has of late been on shuttle diplomacy to build Somaliland’s case for recognition, a move that has been rejected by Mogadishu.
During his two-day visit, the UN official met with Somaliland’s President Muse Bihi Abdi and senior members of his cabinet, as well as women leaders and beneficiaries of UN programs.
“Part of the reason I’m here is to help strengthen our collaboration regarding humanitarian activities, economic development and capacity-building for local governance and service delivery,” Swan said.
He said he was pleased to see some of the projects helping refugees and community members alike as they acquire skills to support themselves and their families.
“The communities hosting refugees and asylum-seekers are already making a big contribution to these groups, and these programs not only equip the refugees with critical skills, but also benefit the wider community,” said the UN envoy.
Somaliland has its own government and its own army, and prints its own currency.