The UN top envoy in Somalia on Monday visited Somalia’s semi-autonomous region of Puntland where he discussed the ongoing tensions between Somaliland and Puntland over the Sool and Sanaag regions.
James Swan, the special representative of the UN Secretary-General for Somalia, said that while in Garowe, he held talks with Puntland president Said Abdullahi Deni and members of his cabinet and called for peaceful resolution of the dispute.
“We are concerned about this continuing problem and the sporadic fighting in areas of Sool and Sanaag in recent months,” Swan said in a statement issued after the visit.
“That has heightened tensions in the area, and we urge the leaders of Puntland and Somaliland to seek a peaceful resolution of this dispute,” he added.
The two regional Somali states have clashed previously since 2002 over control of disputed regions in northern Somalia.
Swan, who arrived in Somalia on June 25 to take up his duties as special envoy and the head of the UN Assistance Mission in Somalia (UNSOM), said he chose to make Garowe his first port of call outside the national capital because Puntland was founded in 1998, making it Somalia’s oldest federal member state.
He said Puntland leaders have played a key role in contributing to the ongoing development of Somalia’s federal model.
“I am pleased to have visited Puntland and engaged in a very constructive meeting with President Deni and members of his administration,” he said.
Swan said the UN will work closely with the people of Puntland and the federal member state administration in order to implement the UNSOM mandate and the activities of the entire UN family more effectively, including efforts to support inclusive dialogue among the Somali government and the Federal Member States.
Swan noted the relevance of the UN family’s engagement in a wide variety of activities in Puntland, ranging from emergency humanitarian assistance to medium- and long-term development projects.
UN missions and agencies, funds and programs, he said, have supported the efforts of Puntland authorities in developing institutional capacity, strengthening the rule of law, improving livelihood sector development, facilitating political reconciliation, and promoting security sector reform and human rights, among others.