Former AU representative to Somalia Amb. Nicolas Bwakira passes away at 80


Sunday March 7, 2021


Burundian diplomat Amb. Nicolas Bwakira who held senior positions at the UN High Commission for Refugees from 1970 to 2002, and the African Union’s Special Representative for Somalia has passed away, this was confirmed by a Statement of the Chairperson of the African Union Commission, that did not mention the cause of his death.

Amb. Nicolas Bwakira was Special Representative of the Chairperson in Somalia from 2007-2009.

Amb. Nicolas Bwakira contributed enormously to the capacity-building initiative for the Transitional Federal Government of Somalia. He coordinated African Union strategies that made Somalia’s key institutions of the security sector functional, such as the paramilitary and the police.

His strategies were pivotal in resurrecting Somalia’s vital institutions within the public sector and in managing the process of restoring stability and running the government such as the ministries of defense and national security, the civil service, the revenue generation, and budgeting mechanisms, and the office of the Prime Minister.



According to AUC statement, during his long and exemplary career, Ambassador Bwakira took on senior roles and responsibilities at various institutions, including the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), the University of South Africa (UNISA), the Institute for Security Studies (ISS) and the Crisis Management Initiative (CMI).


The Chairperson of the African Union Commission, Moussa Faki Mahamat praised the memory of Ambassador Bwakira saying that he fought the good fight as a pan Africanist, an international civil servant in the service of Africa and its people, especially for those in Namibia, Angola, Somalia and, more recently, the Lake Chad Basin. The quest for peace was his lifelong passion.

The Chairperson ended his statement offering his sincere condolences to his family, friends, colleagues, and the people of Burundi on the passing of this illustrious son of Africa.

More about Amb. Nicholas Bwakira
Amb. Nicholas Bwakira worked with the Institute for Security Studies in Pretoria as a consultant. In 2007, he joined the AU and served as Special Representative for Somalia until 2009. From 2002 to 2007, he acted as Director for Africa and International Relations and Partnership, University of South Africa (UNISA), Pretoria. From 1970 to 1994, he occupied various positions in the UNHCR. As Director, he worked in New York, previously in Pretoria covering the SADC region and before that at the Headquarters in Geneva.

He was the coordinator for the return of Namibian exiles and UN Humanitarian Operations from 1989 to 1990. From 1982 to 1987, he was UNHCR Regional Representative for Africa OAU and ECA and Representative to Ethiopia Addis-Ababa, Ethiopia; from 1978 to 1982, he headed the Central Africa Desk.

From 1976 to 1978, he acted as UNHCR Representative to Angola and United Nations Coordinator of Humanitarian Programme for Rehabilitation and Reintegration of Refugees and Internally Displaced Persons, Luanda, Angola. From 1970-1975, he successively occupied the post of Legal Adviser, UNHCR Deputy Regional Representative for Africa, and Head of Liaison with OAU.