Like most countries in the world, Somalia is facing the unparalleled challenge of the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic, the United Nations system in the country noted on Tuesday, calling on its citizens to “unite” in stemming the spread.
“The UN family in Somalia stands shoulder-to-shoulder with the people of Somalia during this testing time”, UN Special Representative for Somalia James Swan underscored in a press statement.
He assured that UN would continue its support in tackling the immediate health and long-term socio-economic impact of the coronavirus, paying particular attention “to the most vulnerable”, including internally displaced people, the infirm and the elderly.
“The United Nations appeals to everyone in Somalia to come together in this fight against the pandemic”, said Mr. Swan, echoing the Secretary-General’s call for “an immediate global ceasefire to put aside violence, mistrust, hostilities and animosity, and to focus on battling the virus, not each other”.
“So that all resources and support can be channeled to fight the COVID-19 pandemic”, he called, on behalf of the UN, “for a cessation of acts of violence and terrorism”.
Containing the virus
To reinforce federal and state level efforts to contain and curb the virus, the UN has established system-wide operating, medical and support procedures.
“Our robust support to Somalia continues,” said Deputy Special Representative, Resident and Humanitarian Coordinator Adam Abdelmoula. “All agencies remain engaged and continue to deliver critical assistance to those most in need.”
The World Health Organization (WHO) is maintaining its scaled-up operational readiness and response, including by supporting a testing mechanism and isolating suspected cases to prevent onward transmission.
“WHO is heavily engaged with the Somali health authorities for case findings, contact tracing, testing, isolation and containment activities with the intention of virus suppression and delaying patient surge”, said WHO Country Representative Mamunur Rahman Malik. “We will continue to work as One UN and keep the country safe showing our solidarity, unity and partnership with the government”.
For its part, the UN Support Office in Somalia (UNSOS) continues to carry out its mandate to provide logistics support to the African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM), as well as elements of the Somalia security forces engaged in joint security operations with AMISOM.
Within the UN COVID-19 Response Task Force, UNSOS and AMISOM were able to assist the Somali Government in responding to the first suspected COVID-19 cases.
And other UN agencies and programmes are supporting the COVID-19 response plan by providing technical expertise and logistics, training health workers, providing equipment for isolation centres and scaling up hygiene responses.
Meanwhile, in anticipation of a deteriorating situation, the World Food Programme (WFP) plans to distribute two months’ worth of food rations.
In closing, Mr. Abdelmoula emphasized that this “unprecedented crisis…requires a swift and decisive response”.
“We, as the UN family, will continue working side-by-side with the Government to ensure the Somali people are protected, while still maintaining our regular life-saving activities that address the needs of the most vulnerable Somalis”, concluded the Resident Coordinator.