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UN chief appoints new envoy for Somalia

UNITED NATIONS New York (Xinhua) -- UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres has appointed Nicholas Haysom of South Africa as his special representative for Somalia and head of the UN peacekeeping mission in the country, Guterres’ press office said Wednesday.

Haysom will succeed Michael Keating of Britain.

Haysom, born in 1952, is a lawyer with a long international career with a focus on democratic governance, constitutional and electoral reforms, reconciliation and peace processes, said the press office.

He is currently the secretary-general’s special envoy for Sudan and South Sudan, a position he has held since 2016. Prior to this, he served as the UN chief’s special representative for Afghanistan and head of the UN Assistance Mission in Afghanistan.

In his earlier career, Haysom served in the government of South Africa. He was involved in the Burundian peace process from 1999 to 2002, and in the Sudan peace process from 2002 to 2005.



UN agencies aim to counter threats posed by explosive devices in Somalia

MOGADISHU Somalia (Xinhua) -- Two UN agencies on Tuesday vowed to strengthen their collaboration to effectively counter the threat posed by improvised explosive devices (IEDs) to Somalia’s stability.

The African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM) and the United Nations Mine Action Service (UNMAS) noted that tackling the threat posed by IEDs was crucial to the implementation of the transition plan which will transfer responsibilities from AMISOM to the Somali government from 2018 to 2021.

“I look forward to us working together to tackle and eliminate the threat posed by IEDs. We are happy to join forces with UNMAS,” said Francisco Madeira, the Special Representative of the Chairperson of the African Union Commission (SRCC) for Somalia.

The two UN officials said in a joint statement issued in Mogadishu also promised to work closely with the Somali government to tackle the use of Vehicle-Borne Improvised Explosive Devices (VBIED), which has become al-Shabab’s weapons of choice in Mogadishu and other parts of the country.

Qurat-ul-Ain Sadozai, new Head of UNMAS Somalia, reiterated UNMAS’ continued support to the AU mission and briefed Madeira on initiatives being undertaken to counter the use of IEDs.

“There is need for us to work together to develop a more comprehensive approach to defeat the threat,” said Sadozai who assumed office in July.

UNMAS is a section of the department of peacekeeping operations, formed in 1997, to serve as the UN focal point for mine action. It seeks to rid the world of the threat of landmines and unexploded ordinances.


UN calls on Somalia to hasten ratification of international treaty on disabilities

MOGADISHU Somalia (Xinhua) -- The UN envoy in Somalia on Monday called on the government to speed up ratification of an international treaty safe-guarding and promoting the rights of people with disabilities.

Michael Keating, the Secretary-General’s Special Representative to Somalia, stressed that Somalis with disabilities form a crucial part of society, and that there is need for their inclusion in the political, social and economic affairs of the country.

“Somalia has agreed to sign the Convention, so the next step is to get the legislation passed and part of my purpose is to recognize that step and to encourage the government of Somalia to pass the law,” Keating said in a statement issued in Mogadishu.

The UN envoy was speaking in Mogadishu visiting the Al Noor School for the Blind, one of the few education institutions established for persons with disabilities in Somalia.

Currently, the Horn of Africa nation has no national or legal policy framework regarding people with disabilities.

However, the government recently announced that it would sign the International Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities.

The Convention is an international treaty that articulates the rights of persons with disabilities. Specifically, countries that become parties to it agree to promote, protect and ensure the full and equal enjoyment of all human rights and fundamental freedoms by all persons with disabilities, and to promote respect for their inherent dignity.

Experts estimate that the number of people with disabilities is higher than the global average estimate of 15 percent as a result of the country’s long period of conflict, poverty and lack of access to health care.

Somalia, which had lacked an effective central government for more than two decades, does not have accurate information on the number of people with disabilities.

The Al Noor School for the Blind currently offers intermediate and secondary education to more than 140 students from the capital and around the country.

Subjects taught at the institution include mathematics, languages (English, Arabic and Somali), Islamic studies, computer and social studies.


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