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Mogadishu, Somalia, 9 December 2011

This visit represents the first ever joint visit of a President of the United Nations General Assembly and a Secretary General to Somalia. In fact, it is also the first time a President of the General Assembly has ever come here.

And we are here today, to demonstrate that the United Nations General Assembly, the Member States and the Secretary-General are standing with you.

The people of Somalia are going through a very painful and difficult period. The loss of lives and devastation to the country’s resources is severe. As President of the General Assembly I have re-iterated several times both at the General Assembly and to journalists that what is happening in Somalia is deplorable. I believe that Somalia is the forgotten Arab state. And though over the years there have been warning signs of an eminent humanitarian disaster, even before the drought and famine began killing tens of thousands of people, these signs were ignored.

However, Somalia is not an Arab problem. It is a global problem. Hence, it is essential that the international community addresses this problem and lend it real support. I have identified the issue of Improving Disaster Prevention and Responses as one of the key priority areas during the 66th session of the General Assembly.

The humanitarian situation rapidly deteriorated during this summer and famine was declared in six areas in Somalia. But from October onwards the trend changed due to increased humanitarian assistance and three of the six regions were lifted out of famine in mid-November, thanks to the efforts of international and local aid workers on the ground.

Yet there is a lot of work to be done. The road map adopted in September clearly charts a course and a number of goals to be completed by August 20, 2012. I strongly believe that this is the way forward and its implementation is a central component to the political process in Somalia. But while the United Nations and the international community stands ready to offer whatever assistance it can, it is ultimately up to you, the Somalis to determine whether or not the roadmap succeeds.

 I would like to take this opportunity to commend the efforts made by The African Union Mission  in Somalia (AMISOM) , the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), the Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Assistance (OCHA) and all other UN personnel and Civil Society members, who are all doing a great job trying to save lives. It is important to stress here, though, that they should be able to continue to perform their life-saving mission unhampered. Their safety and security is therefore a top priority.

I believe we are all working towards the same goal, to make Somalia a safe and prosperous country. So let us all join our efforts to achieve that end. On my own behalf, as President of the General Assembly and on behalf of the Member States of the United Nations, I extend to the Government and to you the people of Somalia my commitment to help ensure a better, safer and more prosperous tomorrow.



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