This is my farewell message to you all, my colleagues and friends from Somalia and across the globe, who have accompanied me on this amazing journey as Head of Mission (HoM) with EUCAP Somalia.
Having served in this organization for three years, it has been an honour and a privilege. I really felt all of you supported me and I wish to thank you for that.
My arrival in this Mission coincided with the shifting of the centre of gravity of our activities in Somalia. I have, in fact been the first HoM of EUCAP to be permanently posted in Mogadishu. During my tenure, operations have expanded in Somalia. Activities at HQ level in Mogadishu and in Somaliland intensified. We opened the Field Office Garowe in October 2016 on the visit of the then Civilian Operation Commander. Work has also progressively been expanded in the port cities of Berbera and Bosasso. The Mission also grew in terms of deployed personnel in Somalia. Our Nairobi support office has also played an important role in enabling the conduct of operations.
This Mission exists thanks to the contribution of all the personnel working for it, and I cannot thank you more for all your efforts and dedication. I feel you have achieved a lot and I am grateful for that. Just to reflect on some examples, thanks to our Mission’s mentoring work, Somalia joined the first international overseas engagement on maritime security officers since 1991. Somali officers have since participated in the Cutlass Express (sponsored by U.S. Africa Command and conducted by U.S. Naval Forces Africa) for two years in a row. Somalia was also the only country that joined Cutlass Express with women officers.
This is an important point. When I came to Somalia, I was determined to give my contribution to make a difference. Compared to 2016 when I arrived, I see an increase in women participating in activities and at the decision-making level. Recently a young Somali lady Lieutenant Colonel briefed an international audience on security, which greatly impressed me. I am honoured to say that our Mission effectively promoted gender mainstreaming in activities and that the increased participation of women resonates in all aspects related to the execution of the Mission.
I want to express my gratitude to our EU Member States for supporting the Mission, with the auspice they will continue to do so. Likewise, I would like to thank the Somali authorities for their commitment and support and engaging in a historical and challenging task in restructuring their security sector.
Finally, I wish you all to stay safe and continue to deliver. Moreover, let us remind ourselves every day the people of Somalia are the very reason we are here.