Somalia: What a difference a Year Makes

May 9, 2013 |

Somalia: What a difference a Year MakescrestBlogger

 

London Somalia Conference, 7 May 2013

 
Prime Minister David Cameron and President Hassan Sheikh Mohamud of Somalia co-hosted an important conference on Somalia in London on 7 May. As I told Vatican Radio, the conference was held under very different circumstances from the February 2012 London Somalia conference. Shortly before then, Benedict XVI had called on the world to act in response to the conflict, famine and humanitarian crisis Somalia faced. In a joint communiqué with the British Government, the Holy See had encouraged the international community “to support a coherent strategy on Somalia in order to end the crisis there, placing as a priority the protection and welfare of the people of the Horn of Africa”.

Britain responded to that appeal. The February 2012 Conference saw real progress. Since then, Al Shabaab’s field of operations and control of territory has been drastically reduced. Somalia has a new President and government. And the international community has been mobilised. At London-Somalia 2013, representatives of 54 countries and organisations attended, pledging further support and committing themselves to backing Somalia’s plans to improve security and policing, strengthen judicial institutions, and re-establish well-managed and transparent public finances.

The United Kingdom and Somalia are bound by living ties stretching back into history. Our international and global concerns mean that it is for Britain a duty and in our clear interest to help the Government of Somalia end the threat of war, terrorism, piracy and famine which have dominated Somalis’ lives far too long, and to seize this opportunity to build peace and stability for all Somalis and the wider region. At the end of April, we re-opened our Embassy in Mogadishu after 22 years of trauma. As President Hassan said at the conference, no country had ever recovered from total social and economic collapse without the support of the world. The new Somalia, the young sapling, can become a tree standing tall in the African bush, offering shade and protection to its people once again.

The conference has given Somalia the platform from which to start anew. It is a clear example of international solidarity in action.

Nigel Baker

UK Ambassador to the Holy See

 

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