Friday August 21, 2020
Somalia, like the rest of the world, is focused on confronting the COVID-19 pandemic, said the top UN envoy for the country on Thursday.
The pandemic is having “a severely negative economic impact” in the country, with the government projecting an 11 percent decline in gross domestic product this year, James Swan, the UN secretary-general’s special representative for Somalia, told a Security Council meeting on the situation in the impoverished, war-torn eastern African country that borders the Gulf of Aden, the Indian Ocean, Ethiopia and Kenya.
Swan added that the United Nations is working to reinforce the government’s response. UN agencies, funds and programs have reoriented their activities to give priority to the pandemic.
However, the envoy noted that even before the virus, more than 5 million Somalis were already in need of humanitarian assistance, adding that “2.6 million people in the country are internally displaced, and 1 million are now being impacted by flooding.”
“The country is also dealing with the worst desert locust infestation in 25 years,” he said.
Swan added that the coming weeks will be “decisive” in determining how Somalia will proceed with the planned elections, noting that the United Nations will continue to support the country in this process.
The Horn of Africa nation was due to hold parliamentary elections in October while presidential polls will take place in February 2021.
However, the electoral body has ruled out a universal vote this year and has instead called for up to 13 months to hold credible elections.