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Abu Dhabi, UAESaturday 20 October 2018

Calls for greater support to Somalia voiced at UN General Assembly

A UN report last month warned that the overall security situation in the country remained volatile and unpredictable.

 A girl stands in front of a makeshift shelter at the new Kabasa internally displaced camp in the northern Somali town of Dollow, Somalia. REUTERS
 A girl stands in front of a makeshift shelter at the new Kabasa internally displaced camp in the northern Somali town of Dollow, Somalia. REUTERS

There was support for a renewal of democratic reforms in Somalia and calls for extra funding for the African Union’s peacekeeping operation there at the UN General Assembly on Thursday.

While Somalia has been restored to eligibility for funds from the World Bank for the first time in 30 years, it has seen a series of setbacks in recent months.

The country remains a patchwork of clan and regional rivalries, and a UN report last month warned that the overall security situation remained volatile and unpredictable.

Antonio Guterres, the UN Secretary General, joined representatives of the UK and Swedish governments to urge the Somalian government, represented by Foreign Minister Ahmed Isse Awad, to deepen reforms and pursue more co-operative policies with its neighbours.

The EU announced it would provide another €100 million (Dh427.5m) for stabilisation efforts including a new political reform programme. Meanwhile, the World Bank’s $80m (Dh293.8m) in grants will underpin bureaucratic reforms.

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A recurrent cost and reform financing project will account for $60m, while the rest will go towards a project to strengthen domestic revenue and public financial management.

Among the neighbouring countries also taking part at the UN was Ethiopia, which has tried to overcome tension with Somalia in recent months.

Abiy Ahmed Ali, the prime minister of Ethiopia, made a first official visit to Mogadishu in June and Mohamed Abdullahi Farmajo, the Somali President, made his first trip to Eritrea.

At a meeting in Moscow this week, Russia also announced its intention to return to the country and is looking at a strategic ports investment.

With a revival of Al Qaeda-linked Al Shabab in several areas of Somalia and reports of ISIS affiliates on the rise, western countries are keen to protect the UN Somalian peace keeping mission as the African Union moves to obtain a quarter of its peacekeeping funds from its members.

“Somalia has a real chance for a better future – one that allows its people to flourish, provides no space for terrorist groups and contributes to regional stability,” said Britain’s Africa Minister, Harriett Baldwin. .

“Helping to build that future must be a truly international effort. Today I am calling on Somalia’s friends to contribute to ensure sustainable funding for Amisom.”

Mr Awad said the federal government was also keen to take on more of the burden.

“The support of the international community has been vital to Somalia thus far,” he said.

“We look forward to continued engagement and support with our international partners as we advance our reform agenda and the transfer of responsibility for Somalia’s security to Somali forces.”