UN Secretary-General António Guterres is set to visit Somalia next week as part of his annual habit of visiting a Muslim-majority nation during Ramadan. Guterres recently advocated unity and peace in an interview with UN News’ Arabic service, emphasizing the essential need for stability in conflict-ridden places such as Somalia.
Somalia, which is on the verge of starvation, is facing enormous problems that have left nearly half of its population – 8.25 million people – in need of lifesaving help or protection. Around 1.8 million children are severely malnourished, and approximately eight million people lack access to basic water, sanitation, and hygiene services.
Exacerbating the crisis, Somalia is seeing increasingly severe weather patterns as a result of climate change, such as lengthy droughts and deadly floods. Additionally, attacks by the violent extremist group Al-Shabab continue to haunt the country.
Guterres stated during the interview, “I believe that now is the time for us to band together for peace. Peace is the most valuable thing we can have in the world.”
Guterres reflected on his Ramadan fasting experiences with Muslims, noting how these interactions exposed “the genuine face of Islam.” He praised the communities who welcome refugees for their peace, togetherness, and compassion, as well as the tenacity and courage of the refugees themselves. The UN Secretary-General underscored that these experiences continue to be a driving force in his work as Secretary-General of the United Nations.