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

Julia Kempny

Political adviser in Somalia

Julia Kempny is on secondment from FBA to the EU Capacity Building Mission in Somalia, where she works as political adviser. She is stationed at the mission headquarters in Mogadishu.

For almost 40 years, Somalia has been plagued by violence and insurgency. But with international support, for example from the EU, Somalia is now rebuilding itself.

Julia, how would you describe a regular week at work?

The best thing about my job is how diverse it is. One day I sit behind my computer scanning news articles or Twitter to keep abreast of current political and security developments in order to inform and advise senior management on pertinent issues. The next day I am accompanying my head of mission to various meetings with Somali interlocutors in Mogadishu. I also attend meetings with embassies and international organizations, or travel to our field offices in Puntland and Somaliland.

Can you tell us more about the mission that you work for?

–  The EU has three missions deployed in Somalia. The EU Training Mission assists the Somali National Army. The civilian EU Capacity Building Mission, which I work for, was established to complement the EU Naval Force Atalanta’s military anti-piracy operations in order to build Somali coast guard capabilities. This is necessary to protect Somalia’s long coastline against acts of piracy and illegal fishing. A functioning coast guard will go a long way to ensure that Somalia can use its ocean resources in the best way possible, to create jobs and to provide the population with food.

What is the situation like in Somalia at the moment?

Somalia still has a long way to go in order to achieve peace and security for all its citizens. The inhabitants are increasingly driven into deeper poverty due to widespread desertification, drought and other effects of climate change. Female genital mutilation (FGM) is practised in almost every household in Somalia, with girls as young as five undergoing the torturous procedure. It is not uncommon for FGM victims to bleed to death. The population is deeply traumatized after decades of brutal war. Since February 2017, however, an elected government is in place. And for the first time ever, the Somali National Army is starting to plan offensive military operations to free the country from the terror group Al-Shabaab. They are advised and assisted by the international community, including the EU. These are all signs that Somalia is looking at an upwards trajectory.

Photo: UN Photo

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Mitigating Election Violence through Dialogue and Mediation in West Africa

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