Mogadishu, 11 July 2017 – The African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM) today officially handed over the Somali National University, to the Federal Government of Somalia, relinquishing control of the institution, which it had occupied for the last 10 years.
At least 300 troops from the Burundi contingent who occupied the university’s premises in the capital Mogadishu, were relocated to AMISOM Sector 5 headquarters in Jowhar, in an exercise that commenced in April 2016. The troops occupied the university in 2007, starting off as a small Forward Operating Base, and later evolving into a Battalion headquarters.
“I want to thank the Federal Government of Somalia for supporting AMISOM through providing land and premises, where we could execute our mandate,” Ambassador Francisco Caetano Madeira, the AU Special Representative for Somalia and Head of AMISOM said, during the handover ceremony.
The ceremony officiated by the federal Minister for Higher Education Mr. Abdirahman Dahir Osman comes after extensive reconstruction, logistical and engineering works, spearheaded by the United Nations Support Office in Somalia (UNSOS). “We are happy that today, this institution is ready and will start admitting students once the government gives the green light,” Amb. Madeira remarked.
“This ceremony has two profound meanings; firstly, relinquishing the University and making it an institution of higher learning is a demonstration that solid progress is being achieved by AMISOM, the FGS and Somali National Security Forces in their joint efforts to contain Al-Shabaab and stabilize the country, normalising life and developing Somalia,” the Ambassador noted.
“Secondly, by presiding over the takeover of security responsibilities of the university premises by the Somali security forces, we are implementing important steps of AMISOM’s transition and drawdown.”
AMISOM also handed over assets that will facilitate the administrative operations of the institution, to enable it operate effectively. “As we hand over these facilities, we do so with confidence, knowing that normal day-to-day activities of this institution of higher learning can continue, free from the threat of terrorists.”
Minister Osman described the institution as a symbol of the rebirth of Somalia. “As a Government, we prioritize security, economic development and most importantly education because we believe that education is the anchor for sustainable development,” he said.
Established in 1954, the Somali National University suffered extensive damage and material shortage on the onset of the civil war that broke out in 1991, leading to the suspension of classes and effective closure. However, in August 2014, the university reopened its constituent colleges to offer specialized training.