London Conference on Somalia: Building Momentum
Jan 17 2012
we’ve had an overwhelmingly positive reaction to the British Prime
Minister’s announcement to host a Conference on Somalia in London next month. After 20 years
of sliding backwards, it’s clear – and welcomed by many – that Somalia needs a
step-change in effort, both from the international community, but also
Somalia’s political leaders.
This is what the London Conference is about – bringing together
in London senior representatives from over 40 governments, multilateral
organisations and Somali authorities to agree how the international community
can step-up its efforts to help tackle the root causes and effects of the
problems in Somalia.
Twenty years of civil war in Somalia have had a dramatic effect
on Somalis. Somalia is the most affected by the drought in the Horn of Africa –
the UK estimates that 50,000 to 100,000 people may have died in Somalia, half
of them children, since famine was declared almost six months ago. The UN
estimates that 250,000 Somalis remain at risk and almost 2.5
million Somalis are displaced in the country and across the region. And if
that wasn’t reason enough to act, an entire generation of children – Somalia’s
future – has grown up with guns, not school books. Somalia is one of the worst
countries in the world to be a woman. And while some Somalis are thriving
financially, not enough is being invested in Somalia’s future.
And it’s clear from my meetings with many Somalis, that the
people of Somalia want change. So the London Conference is about making the
most of the opportunities in front of us:
- The opportunity to support
a more inclusive and representative political process when the Transitional
Period ends in August 2012;
- The opportunity to help
people return to Mogadishu and rebuild their lives in that city;
- The opportunity to take
further action against Al Shabaab and piracy;
- The opportunity to
reinforce the relative stability in areas of Somalia, such as Somaliland and
Puntland and in the south.
To realise these opportunities we need more effective
international and Somali leadership and a more coordinated approach focused on
actions. The UK aims to act as a catalyst for this new approach.
Together with colleagues in London and in British Missions
around the world, we continue to consult widely with our Somali and
international partners. These consultations will continue over the next weeks.
From these early discussions, there’s growing agreement on a
series of measures to support Somalia, including: providing sustainable funding
for AMISOM; support for Somali security and justice sectors; agreement to what
should succeed the transitional institutions in August 2012; a package of
support to Somalia’s regions; a renewed commitment to collectively tackle the
terrorist threat emanating from Somalia; breaking the piracy business model; a
renewed commitment to tackling Somalia’s humanitarian crisis; and improved
international handling of Somalia issues.
So, the momentum towards the Conference is building. We’re
realistic enough to know these are complex issues that will not be solved
overnight. We will need to build on and support the work of the UN, AU, NGOs
and the vital role of civil society in Somali and we will require sustained
political commitment and concrete action, including from Somalia’s political
leaders. But what’s agreed in London will be an important step.