Ban Ki-moon pays surprise visit to Somali capital

In a first in almost 20 years, the current U.N. secretary general has set foot in conflict-torn Somalia.

Ban Ki-moon, together with U.N. General Assembly President Nassir Abdulaziz Al-Nasser, arrived unannounced in Mogadishu, Somalia, on Friday (Dec. 9). On the agenda: show U.N. solidarity to the Somali people and meet with officials of Somalia’s Transitional Federal Government to map out how the international community can help the country on the humanitarian, political and military front.

On the humanitarian front, Ban commended the efforts of U.N. agencies and their partners in helping alleviate the situation in Somali regions hit hardest by the famine but stressed the situation there remains critical. Meanwhile, he condemned recent actions and attacks by the militant group al-Shabab on the work of international nongovernmental organizations in Somalia.

“Humanitarian organizations in Somalia remain strictly neutral. Their mission is only to save lives, to deliver life-saving humanitarian assistance,” he emphasized. “Any attack on them is an attack on the most vulnerable people in the country.”

Ban also assured Somalia of U.N. assistance on both the political and military front. To affirm this, he announced the U.N. Political Office of Somalia will relocate from Nairobi, Kenya, to Mogadishu in January 2011.

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About the author

  • Ivy Mungcal

    As former senior staff writer, Ivy Mungcal contributed to several Devex publications. Her focus is on breaking news, and in particular on global aid reform and trends in the United States, Europe, the Caribbean, and the Americas. Before joining Devex in 2009, Ivy produced specialized content for U.S. and U.K.-based business websites.