Folke Bernadotte Academy – Swedish agency for peace, security and development

Akiko Ahl

Stabilization and coordination officer in Somalia

After decades of civil war, the United Nations Assistance Mission in Somalia (UNSOM) was established in 2013. Among its mandated functions is to support the Federal Government of Somalia in the areas of peace- and state-building.

Akiko Ahl is on deployment from the FBA to the UNSOM Headquarters in Mogadishu, where she works as stabilization and coordination officer.

Akiko, how would you describe a regular day at work?

– I work within the stabilization team of UNSOM. We support the Somali Federal Government’s work to establish local administration in all parts of Somalia. It is especially important in areas formerly controlled by the terror group al-Shabaab, now overtaken by the government. I also work on supporting a better coordination of international donor support for stabilization activities in Somalia. I conduct field trips to various parts of the country in order to assess the needs of the people, then I pass the information on to the federal government and to the international donors financing different projects.

How does the high-risk environment impact your work?

– The security situation only permits travelling in convoys. The lack of security also impacts how I and my colleagues live. We stay at the UN camp next to the airport in Mogadishu, we are not based in the city. We have our own rooms, next to our offices. We are confined to a very restricted space. It is of course a challenging environment, and contact between international representatives and our Somali counterparts becomes limited.

What did you do prior to your deployment to UNSOM?

– As a trained fire protection engineer, I used to work for the Swedish fire and rescue services. I´m also an officer within the Swedish Armed Forces and have been seconded to Afghanistan. Furthermore, I´ve trained the Somali army in Uganda within the realm of an EU training mission and I´ve previously  been seconded by the FBA as political adviser in Afghanistan.

What do you want to do in the future and how do you view the future of Somalia?

– I hope to able to continue working with Somalia. There is so much left to do. The international community has to oversee the way the substantial resources allocated to Somalia are being used. We in the international community, together with the Somali government, have a joint responsibility to make sure that the resources are being used to rebuild the country. The goal is for the government to be able to meet the basic needs of the people, such as security, rule of law, healthcare, education, economic growth and employment.

Photo: UN Photo/Tobin Jones, UN Photo/Milton Grant

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Author:
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