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British millions for new Somalian security forces
The Somalian government payroll currently includes 8,500 soldiers and 6,000 police in Mogadishu
 Photo: Reuters

by Damien McElroy, Foreign Affairs Correspondent
Friday, May 03, 2013

Tens of millions of pounds will be pledged by the British and other governements for an ambitious security plan to hire army and police forces to keep the emerging peace in Somalia.

William Hague, the Foreign Secretary, said Somalian leaders "need international support to build up" security forces, police and coastguard and will get broad international backing at a conference on Somalia in London next week.

Under a plan bankrolled by international donors, Britain could be prepared to increase the £60 million it is currently spending on rebuilding the war-torn north African country.

"We are looking at building the security forces of Somalia from a very low base. That means coming up with a clear plan for effective and affordible security forces," said one official close to the plans.

Security is one of the four key aims of the conference, which has been convened by David Cameron and includes representatives of 55 countries and organisations.

The Somalian government payroll currently includes 8,500 soldiers and 6,000 police in Mogadishu, the capital. Most are hastily drafted members of militias whose ultimate loyalty is to clans or warlord leaders.

These forces are woefully under-resourced with typically just one shipping container to store its arms. At a barracks in the capital soldiers last week celebrated the arrival of beds for the first time. A European Union scheme to train army officers in neighbouring Uganda for the Somalian military can only enroll a few hundred Somalis at a time.

Somalia is slowly recovering from more than two decades of all out civil war. The Western-backed government has taken control of Mogadishu and has extended its control to the coast with the help of the Kenyan military.

AMISOM, an African peace-keeping force, has been increasingly effective against the al-Shabaab militia that is linked to al-Qaeda. But the government and its backers now want Somalia itself to put its own forces into the fight. With minimal revenues, it will need foreign funds to pay salaries and underwrite operations.

"Its about who pays them and what they are there to do," said one consultant who has worked for the Somalian government. "The next question is what are they going to be able to do with 40,000 men under arms."

Britain has opened a new embassy in Mogadishu, 22 years pulling its diplomats from Somalia, making it the first EU nation to return.

In the run-up to the summit, the government of Somalia has been presented a series of models training schemes to build up its own military. There will also be an appeal for funds to build courthouses and train judges.

"Somalia must be in control of its own internal and external security. To achieve this, legitimate and effective security forces with clear accountability structures and civilian oversight need to be developed. The armed forces will be an important part of this, alongside the police and a coastguard," a conference communique said.

Source: The Telegraph


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