London Conference On Somalia: UK, IMF and Others
More than 50 governments attended a meeting in London on Tuesday – co-hosted by David Cameron, the British Prime Minister and Somali President Hassan Sheikh.
About a year from the first such UK-hosted meeting of international backers, significant advances on both the political and security fronts have been made. A government has been installed and more territory grabbed back from the control of al Shabaab Islamist militias. A senior UK diplomat said however, that the gains remained “very fragile”.
Speaking after the international conference on Tuesday, Prime Minister David Cameron pledged support to Somalia, saying the challenges faced by the country are issues that “matter for Britain” and the whole international community as well.
Mr Cameron said the threat to UK security due to radicalism “poisoning young Somali minds” was real and “if we ignore it we will be making the same mistakes in Somalia that we made in Afghanistan in the 1990s. I’m not prepared to let that happen.”
Britain, China, South Africa, America and a number of other nations will contribute to a £50 million fund to improve security in Somalia by backing plans to build up the army, police force and strengthen maritime security.
The UK set up two conditions under which they will provide military expertise and a two-year £10 million boost to Somalia’s army in order to fight against the al Shabaab Islamist militias. Somalia will have to tackle human right and financial management concerns.
Funding will also be directed to rebuilding and adding new places to prisons, while also doubling police numbers to nearly 12,000. Mobile courts will be set up in order to cover refugee camps and remote districts. Other elements of the help will be to pay public officials and expert advice on accounting and financial reporting, while £1.5 million will be put in for anti-piracy measures.
This summer, a team of UN experts in ending violence against women will be deployed to Somalia, while half a million Somalis are expected to also benefit form a £145 million boost to humanitarian aid.
Hassan Sheikh, President of Somalia since September 2012 is leading the country’s first widely recognized government in more than 20 years. Progress has been made in extending his influence beyond the capitol Mogadishu, which is starting to show sign of economic recovery despite continued terror attacks.
At the conference, more than 50 countries and global bodies such as the IMF came together to hear him outline his plans to stabilize the country after two decades of brutal civil war.
Mr Cameron acknowledged that the President faces “one of the most difficult tasks of any leader anywhere in the world” and that the UN was making its “deepest involvement” in Somalia since more than 20 years.