The International Community Stands Strong with Somalia at Annual Conference
A security pact between Somalia and the international community was signed at the London Somalia Conference last Thursday. The move will build a national force which will take the fight to al-Shabaab militants.
Plans to support and train Somalia’s army and police, so they can take over duties that are currently performed by the African Union, were agreed by world powers. Somalia’s president, although extremely pleased with the news, claimed that unless a UN arms embargo was lifted the conflict could continue for another decade.
Antonio Guterres, a UN chief, expressed the need for an additional $900m (£700m) to be made available to Somalia to provide desperately needed aid to tackle the current drought. That will bring the total funds allocated to the African country up to around $1.5bn.
The conference, which was attended by over 40 nations and held at Lancaster House in London, was organised with the aim of lifting Somalia out of ‘decades of conflict, poverty and terrible suffering’.
Mohamed Abdullahi Mohamed, Somalia’s new President, was impressed with the effort. He hailed it as a “historic” moment for his country.
Boris Johnson, the UK’s Foreign Secretary who co-hosted the conference, said that he believed that if the international community acts ‘early and decisively’ Somalia’s impending famine could be avoided.
“For this to happen, aid agencies must be free to go wherever necessary with safety and without hindrance to distribute food aid to all those in need,” Johnson argued. But he believes that the weapon embargo should remain firmly in place as he fears that arms could end up falling into the wrong hands.
Theresa May, the UK’s Prime Minister, opened the conference by saying that the “challenges that face Somalia affect us all”. She added: “If Somalia is a foothold for terrorist groups like al-Shabaab and Daesh [ISIS], if global trade is hijacked by pirates or if millions are continually displaced in a desperate bid to escape poverty and drought, the impact of instability in Somalia is felt across the whole region and the wider world.”
In Somalia, news of the conference was met with overall praise. “We need tangible, visible and quantifiable achievements for the Somali people,” Abdi Barud, one of the country’s social entrepreneurs, said. And, with these new promises from the 40 members of the international community, let’s hope that’s exactly what they get.