UNITED NATIONS, Nov. 4 (Xinhua) -- UN Deputy Secretary-General Amina Mohammed said Monday that she saw a real chance for peace in the Horn of Africa after a trip to the region, which was focused on women, peace and security, and development.
Mohammed led a joint UN-African Union mission to the Horn of Africa countries of Ethiopia, Djibouti, Eritrea and Somalia on Oct. 21-26. She then visited adjacent Sudan.
"I left all five countries with a sense of hope and optimism. The chance for peace in this region is real. The international community, together with these countries, can find lasting solutions to the complex challenges of the region," Mohammed told the Security Council in a briefing.
Each country is moving at its own pace through a process of reform and transformation. And in all countries, women are playing a critical leadership role in social cohesion, economic revival, and peace, she said.
The leaders of these countries are making concrete efforts to place gender equality and greater representation of women at the heart of reforms in order to reap the benefits of the links between inclusion, stability and peace, and give substance to prevention efforts during complex transitions, she observed.
"The region I saw is a region with some of the fastest-growing economies on the continent, with rich natural resources, extraordinary capacity particularly among their youth, and genuine reforms. These are the elements that we need to support, and the narrative we need to share."
However, she cautioned that the road ahead for the Horn of Africa will not be easy.
The foundations have been laid for a transition from peace to sustainable development. But building on these fragile foundations will require unity and cooperation across the region and common ground internationally to accompany these transitions, she said.
This is particularly the case when it comes to the issue of refugees and internally displaced persons, of which there are tens of thousands, many of them vulnerable to trafficking; and equally in finding regional solutions to protection challenges, including sexual violence, in areas where conflict is still going on, she said.