Nairobi, Kenya, Wednesday 15 June 2005 - UNICEF has with immediate effect resumed operations in Northeast Somalia ('Puntland') UNICEF Somalia Representative, Jesper Morch, announced in Nairobi, Kenya.
The decision was taken after fruitful discussions between the UNICEF Representative and Puntland President Mohamud Muse Hirsi in Nairobi in which they reaffirmed their commitment to working together to improve the lives of the children of Puntland.
"Puntland and UNICEF have put their differences behind them and join hands in a shared strong commitment to renewed action for Puntland's children and vulnerable groups,'' the two parties said. "In so doing the Puntland authorities and UNICEF Somalia build on years of concerted action to improve the situation of children in the fields of health and nutrition; education; water and environmental sanitation; child protection; youth development; and HIV/AIDS prevention, care and support."
In announcing the resumption of operations, Mr Morch reaffirmed UNICEF's respect and appreciation for the strong personal commitment of the President of Puntland to the wellbeing and welfare of children, saying that "as peace, reconciliation and transition hopefully begin to take root in central and southern Somalia, experiences from Puntland may well serve as a model for the long troubled country". He added that the President had personally championed the cause of educating every child in Puntland and committed his administration to supporting 200 new teachers in the coming year.
Puntland President, Mohamud Muse Hirsi, stated that "the noble mission of UNICEF and services rendered to the Somali people in Puntland are fundamental and of paramount importance. This is acknowledged by all". In the statement, President Hirsi reaffirmed respect for UNICEF's rules, regulations and institutional procedures and the guarantee of safety, security and unimpeded access for UNICEF staff in the implementation of activities. UNICEF confirmed that it would similarly be guided by the Government of Puntland's rules and regulations. The two parties agreed to remain guided by the October 2002 "Memorandum of Cooperation" upon which their collaboration is based.
The resumption of activities is a welcome development, as a number of critical initiatives are underway or about to begin. Among them are the ongoing recovery efforts in the areas affected by the December 2004 tsunami, conducted jointly with other UN agencies and NGOs; an ambitious Back to School initiative which aims to reach all girls and boys throughout Somalia; and a new European Community/UNICEF water project that will target numerous towns and villages throughout Puntland.
The resumption takes place following nearly three weeks of suspended operations.
For further information contact:
1. Jesper Morch, Representative, UNICEF Somalia. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org. Tel: +254-20-623950/53/55/70. Mobile: +254-722-514-569/733-629-933.
2. Robert Kihara, Assistant Communication Officer, UNICEF Somalia: Email: email@example.com. Tel: +254-20-623950/53/55/70. Mobile: +254-721-244-800
Puntland, a semi-autonomous state within Somalia, has its own president, but unlike Northwest Somalia ('Somaliland') which has declared sovereignty, Puntland has always stated that it will remain an integral part of Somalia.
For nearly 60 years UNICEF has been the world's leader for children, working on the ground in 158 countries to help children survive and thrive, from early childhood through adolescence. The world's largest provider of vaccines for poor countries, UNICEF supports child health and nutrition, quality basic education for all boys and girls, and the protection of children from violence, exploitation, and AIDS. UNICEF is funded entirely by the voluntary contributions of individuals, businesses, foundations and governments.