Somalia-Somaliland Dialogue, Conflict in Laascaanood, Economic Development, and Human Rights Top UN Official’s Agenda in Hargeisa Visit

The UN Secretary-General’s Special Representative for Somalia, Catriona Laing, recently concluded a two-day visit to Hargeisa, where she engaged in discussions covering various critical topics. Expressing her delight to be back in Hargeisa, Ms. Laing recalled her first visit in 1993 during her work for the UN mission. She commended the city’s impressive development over the past thirty years, saying, “Thirty years on, Hargeisa is very well developed, and I’ve had a fantastic two days, and I’m very grateful to President [Muse] Bihi [Abdi] and his government for welcoming me so warmly and engaging in very constructive dialogue.”

During her stay, Ms. Laing made it a point to connect with diverse groups. She explained, “I spent the night here because I wanted to have enough time to really absorb and talk to a range of people,” addressing the media at the end of her visit.

In addition to holding meetings with Somaliland’s leadership, Ms. Laing engaged with representatives from local civil society organizations and visited a UN-supported youth training center.

The discussions with President Bihi and his ministers focused on political matters, particularly the future of the Somalia-Somaliland dialogue. Ms. Laing conveyed optimism, stating, “We talked about the future of the Somalia-Somaliland dialogue and the commitment the President gave to engage in those discussions constructively.”

Prior to arriving in Hargeisa, Ms. Laing met with Abdikarim Hussein Guled, the Federal Government of Somalia’s Special Envoy for Somaliland. She stressed the importance of an inclusive dialogue to address current challenges and secure lasting solutions, reaffirming the world body’s support.

Addressing the conflict in Laascaanood, Ms. Laing called for a ceasefire to facilitate dialogue and pave the way for peaceful negotiations, saying, “I urge the importance of a ceasefire to enable dialogue and the eventual resumption of peaceful negotiations to find a way forward.”

Ms. Laing also held separate discussions with key ministers, including the Minister of Environment and Climate Change, the Minister of Finance, the Minister of National Planning and Development, and the Deputy and Acting Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation. She acknowledged their dedication to Somaliland’s development, remarking, “From those various discussions, I saw a committed team who clearly have the best interests of Somaliland at heart and are trying to develop it.”

In her meetings with representatives from civil society, Ms. Laing praised the invaluable work done in support of marginalized groups. She pledged the UN’s full support, stating, “I praised civil society organizations for the amazing work they’re doing in support of marginalized groups, whether that’s youth or women or persons with disabilities or disadvantaged clans, or working at the cutting edge of these really important issues. And I committed to lend the UN’s full support to that work.”

During her encounter with the Chairperson of the Somaliland Human Rights Commission, Ms. Laing commended the progress made in protecting and promoting human rights. She expressed appreciation for the commission’s efforts in advancing legislation on critical issues, such as freedom of speech for journalists and the media.

Interacting with Somaliland’s traditional elders, Ms. Laing received valuable insights and wisdom. While in Hargeisa, she visited a youth training center supported by the UN Population Fund (UNFPA), witnessing firsthand how livelihood and skills development programs are empowering local youth.

Ms. Laing’s visit highlighted the significance of constructive dialogue, peaceful negotiations, and human rights in the region. Her engagement with various stakeholders demonstrated the UN’s commitment to supporting Somaliland’s progress and development.