The United States Embassy in Mogadishu, through the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID), delivered 150,000 locally made non-medical face masks to Somalia’s Ministry of Health to help reduce the spread of COVID-19. Today’s delivery fulfills a commitment to provide a total of 500,000 masks, and follows the U.S. Government’s recent donation of 350 hospital beds to Somalia’s isolation centers, along with computers and printers, and other office equipment and furniture to enhance the functionality of testing labs throughout the country.
“The United States is proud to be leading the world’s humanitarian, health and economic assistance response to the COVID-19 pandemic in Somalia,” said U.S. Ambassador to Somalia Donald Y. Yamamoto. “The U.S. Embassy through our USAID Mission in Somalia is providing critical protective and medical equipment for the Somali people, and doing so in partnership with the local private sector to build the skills of Somalia’s youth, which helps to sustain Somalia’s progress toward self-reliance and stability.”
The masks were received by Somalia’s Minister of Health, Fawziya Abikar Nur, and Minister of Labor and Social Affairs Sadik Warfa. The 500,000 masks were produced by 304 youth who are part of USAID’s $2.5 million Youth Skills Development Program implemented by the Growth, Enterprise, Employment and Livelihoods (GEEL) project. While the youth are contributing to their country’s efforts to curb the spread of the virus, they are also learning new skills and making connections to local textile companies to improve their employment prospects during the COVID-19 crisis and beyond.
“I applaud the tireless efforts of Somali youth in engaging in social and civic responsibilities and assisting the nation to respond and mitigate the spread of COVID-19 through their skills and knowledge” said Minister Warfa.
Somalia is particularly vulnerable to the health and economic impacts of COVID-19. The pandemic comes after decades of instability and a year in which 2.6 million Somali people were displaced by continuing conflict, droughts, floods and other challenges. The United States has provided $17.1 million in assistance to Somalia to respond to COVID-19, and is helping protect the health and wellbeing of the Somali people, creating much-needed skills and jobs for young people, and reducing the economic impact of the pandemic on Somalia’s youth.