Horn of Africa: Briefing on UN-AU Joint Solidarity Mission with a focus on Women, Peace and Security
On Monday (4 November), the Security Council is expected to hear briefings from Deputy Secretary-General Amina Mohammed and Permanent Observer of the AU to the UN Fatima Kyari Mohammed on a 21-26 October joint UN-AU solidarity mission to the Horn of Africa. Mohammed travelled together with Bineta Diop, the AU Special Envoy for women, peace and security. Their delegation was joined by other senior UN and AU officials on different legs of the trip.
This will be the fourth Council meeting of its kind. In August 2017 the Council was briefed after a joint UN-AU trip to the DRC and Nigeria, as they were in July 2018 after a joint UN-AU trip to the Sahel region, and most recently in July following a solidarity mission to Afghanistan.
The mission visited Ethiopia, Djibouti, Somalia, and Eritrea. Mohammed then travelled to Sudan upon the request of Abdalla Hamdok, the prime minister. In her remarks to the Council, she may speak about the transition that Sudan is undergoing, and how the UN and the international community can support the country during this transition. Council members might be interested in hearing how the different pillars of the women, peace, and security agenda (prevention, protection, participation, relief and recovery) play a role in the development of each of the countries.
The first day in Addis Ababa focused on issues such as the cooperation between the UN and AU; the prevention and protection aspects of the women, peace and security agenda; and governance and development. Mohammed and Diop were joined by Hanna Tetteh, the Special Representative of the Secretary-General to the African Union; Vera Songwe, the Executive Secretary of the Economic Commission for Africa; Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka, the Executive Director of UN Women; Pramila Patten, the Special Representative of the Secretary-General on Sexual Violence in Conflict; Parfait Onanga-Anyanga, the Special Envoy of the Secretary-General for the Horn of Africa; and Steven Were Omamo, the current UN Resident Coordinator and Humanitarian Coordinator for Ethiopia. The delegation met with the Ethiopian president Sahle-Work Zewde, chairperson of the AU Commission Moussa Faki, and female peacekeepers from Ethiopia. In her briefing to the AU Peace and Security Council, Mohammed emphasised that “gender equality is a precursor to sustaining peace and achieving sustainable development” and that “there is ample evidence that women’s participation makes peace and security processes more inclusive, effective and durable.”
In Djibouti, on the second day of the trip, Mohammed and Diop were joined by AU Commissioner for Political Affairs Minata Samate Cessouma, Mlambo-Ngcuka, Onanga-Anyanga, and UN Resident Coordinator for Djibouti Barbara Manzi. The meetings that day focused again on protection; peace, security and development; and the relief and recovery aspects of the women, peace and security agenda. The delegation met with Minister of Foreign Affairs Mahmoud Ali Youssouf, President Ismaïl Omar Guelleh, refugees, migrants, other vulnerable women, and UN staff.
On 23 October, the delegation travelled to Somalia. Mohammed and Diop were joined by Patten; James Swan, the Special Representative of the Secretary-General for Somalia and Head of the UN Assistance Mission in Somalia (UNSOM); Adam Abdelmoula, Deputy Special Representative of the Secretary-General and Resident Coordinator and Humanitarian Coordinator for Somalia; and Raisedon Zenenga, Deputy Special Representative of the Secretary-General for Political Affairs of UNSOM. The meetings that day focused on elections and violent extremism. The delegation met with Prime Minister Hassan Ali Khayre, ministers of the Somali Federal Government, female civil society leaders and senior UN officials.
Back in Ethiopia, Mohammed and Diop were joined by Fatima Kyari Mohammed, Permanent Observer of the African Union to the United Nations; Tetteh, Songwe, Patten, Onanga-Anyanga and Omamo. Apart from participating in UN Day celebrations and a press briefing, the delegation met with the “Mothers for Peace Initiative”, the Minister of Peace Muferiat Kamil, and other government officials.
On 25 and 26 October, the delegation travelled to Eritrea to have meetings focused on women’s economic empowerment and regional integration. Mohammed and Diop were accompanied by Amira El Fadil, AU Commissioner for Social Affairs; Fatima Kyari Mohammed, Permanent Observer of the AU to the UN; Songwe, and UN Resident Coordinator and Humanitarian Coordinator for Eritrea Susan Ngongi-Namondo. The delegation conducted several site visits, including to projects to better connect Eritrea and Ethiopia, a dam, and a dairy farm. There they met with women construction workers and women engineers. They further met with President Isaias Afwerki, senior government officials, women professionals, the National Union of Eritrean Women (which works towards the improvement of the status of women in Eritrea), the diplomatic community in Eritrea, and the UN country team.