Wednesday, May 08, 2013
Strife-torn Somalia has made "significant progress" and its economy
is starting to revive, an international conference said on Tuesday,
while warning that big challenges remain in stopping it sliding back
British Prime Minister David Cameron, co-hosting
the meeting of more than 50 countries and organisations, described the
progress made since London's first international conference on Somalia
15 months ago as "remarkable".
The conference, attended by the
United Nations, African Union (AU), International Monetary Fund and
other world bodies, was aimed at boosting political stability in the
impoverished nation, which has had no effective government since 1991.
After a day of talks, they said there were reasons for optimism.
"The number of pirate attacks committed off the coast of Somalia has dramatically reduced," a final communique said.
"The famine has receded. The diaspora have begun to return. The economy is starting to revive."
But it warned that the Al-Qaeda-linked Shebab militants were "still a threat to peace and security".
Somali President Hassan Sheikh Mohamud, co-hosting the conference with Cameron, said "the time to help Somalia is now".
calls for international funding were answered with pledges from Britain
of £145 million ($224 million, 171 million euros) to help avoid the
devastating famines which struck Somalia between 2010 and 2012, and £35
million to support Somalia's security forces and governance.
once colonised the northern part of Somalia which is now the
self-declared independent Somaliland, and it has taken a leading role in
efforts to rebuild Somalia after two decades of conflict.
The European Union promised 44 million euros ($58 million) of aid, while the United States offered $40 million.
The EU said its funding would be used to build up Somalia's justice system and police force.
Somalia, like anywhere else, there can be no development without
security," EU Commissioner for Development Andris Piebalgs said.
government, which came to power last year, remains weak and needs the
support of about 18,000 AU troops to stay in power.
"We have been
given a chance and we will prove in the eyes of the world that we will
deliver -- and we will," Mohamud told a press conference after the
Shebab militants were driven out of the capital Mogadishu
by AU troops in August 2011, but the Islamists have carried out a
series of brutal attacks in recent months.
A reminder of the
danger that stalks Somalia came on Sunday when about a dozen people were
killed in Mogadishu after a suicide bomber rammed a car laden with
explosives into a government convoy carrying officials from Qatar.
the unrest, Somalia appears to be slowly turning a corner, with
businesses reporting an increase in activity, particularly at the ports.
Cameron said earlier that piracy off the Somali coast had dropped 80 percent since February 2012.
But he admitted that long-term stability was a long way off yet.
one of the most fragile countries anywhere in the world. It's one of
the poorest countries, one of the most broken countries, one of the most
conflict-affected countries," he told BBC television.
the writ of the government as it stands today does not run a long way
outside Mogadishu. But at least it has a government. It's making a
start, and I think we're seeing some real progress."
Jeffrey Feltman, UN Under-Secretary General for Political Affairs, said Somalia had entered a "new era".
year, when countries gathered to discuss how to help the Somali people
they were talking about how to complete a transition," he told AFP.
year, what everyone's talking about is how does one support a Somali
government, in a Somali-led process. We're in a new era."
The conference also pledged to work to tackle sexual violence in Somalia, which the UN says is "pervasive".
and the United Arab Emirates last month announced £1 million ($1.6
million, 1.2 million euros) each to help tackle sexual violence.
raised eyebrows by inviting Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta, who faces
an international trial for crimes against humanity, to the conference.
British government source said the invitation counted as "essential
contact" with Kenyatta, who is due to go on trial at the International
Criminal Court in July.
Downing Street said Kenya played a "vital"
role in Somalia, because it has nearly 5,000 troops stationed there and
hosts more Somali refugees than any other nation.
Kenyatta had talks with Cameron and British Foreign Secretary William Hague.