Justine Greening with Mathew Offord MP, Abubakar Ali and Mohamed Ali.
Times SeriesMs Greening said the UK had a “real role to play in helping Somalia
move forward,” adding the British Government had committed £80million
this year to help rebuild the Somali government, to boost its economy by
creating 45,000 jobs, to provide healthcare and restore basic services.
Tuesday, April 30, 2013
The International Development Secretary has visited Mill Hill to meet
with members of Barnet’s Somali community ahead of a major international
conference on Somalia next month.
Justine Greening and MP for Hendon Matthew Offord met members of
Somali non-profit organisation BritSom at the Eversfield Centre on
Friday to hear their views on how the British Government could help make
Somalia a more peaceful, prosperous and safer place.
She said: “British Somalis across the UK have tremendous links back to
family, friends and businesses in Somalia. According to figures from
the World Bank, they send remittances of $2bn to the country each year.
“Their time, energy and support is vital to help Somalia recover from
two decades of conflict. I’m here because I want to hear people’s views
on that recovery and understand more about the challenges facing
She praised the work of BritSom, calling it a “shining light” and an
example to other diasporas for its work in teaching English to children
and young mothers, offering advocacy, counselling and advice and helping
to alter negative perceptions of Britain’s Somali community.
She said: “The people themselves will be the greatest asset Somalia has.”
She asked members of the audience at the centre in Eversfield Lane,
many of whom had fled Somalia during the years of conflict, for their
opinion on how the money should be spent.
She then heard their views on the need for better education in
Somalia, better care for people with special needs and for the Somali
people themselves to return and use their expertise to help rebuild the
Mr Offord also praised BritSom for its work in combating the negative
perceptions some Barnet residents had of Barnet’s “reasonably sized”
Somali community and giving members of the Somali community an
He said: “BritSom is the big society in action. It does things the
council and Government cannot do. It is the grass roots coming together
to improve lives, give something back and help the community with its
“BritSom works with everyone who wants to use its services, not just the Somali community.”
Co-founder of BritSom Mohammed Ali said how pleased he and the other
BritSom members were Justine Greening had come to visit them.
He said: “It is brilliant she is interested in Somalia, it is a big
thing that we have met face to face to discuss the needs of Somalia and
help promote the country in the long term.
“We don’t want to feel invisible; we work with people to help them be a true part of British society.”
Prime Minister David Cameron and Somalia’s President Hassan Sheikh
Mohamud will co-host the London Somalia Conference on May 7. The
conference will set out how to help Somalia's new Government rebuild
their country after two decades of conflict.
Ms Greening said: “Together at the national conference we can refocus
attention on the plight of Somalis and bring change for the better.”