Roundup of Reactions to the London Conference on Somalia

Yesterday, the British government hosted the “London Conference on Somalia.” You can read a statement of the conference’s aims here, and view a list of attendees here.

Below I have rounded up statements made at the conference and reactions to it from governments, organizations, and individuals.

British Prime Minister David Cameron (full text of his speech here):

The world had ignored Somalia for too long, said British Prime Minister David Cameron in his opening statement, because the problems were seen as too difficult and too remote.

“That fatalism has failed Somalia and it has failed the international community, too. So today we have an unprecedented opportunity to change that and I believe there is real momentum right now,” said Cameron. “International aid has pulled Somalia back from the brink of humanitarian crisis. Thanks to the extraordinary bravery of African and Somali troops, the city of Mogadishu, once beautiful, now a bullet-hole-ridden city has been recovered from al-Shabab. Crucially, across the country al-Shabab are losing the support of ordinary Somalis.”

Video of Somali President Sheikh Sharif Sheikh Ahmad’s speech here.

Somali Prime Minister Abdiweli Mohamed Ali:

Ali said that he supported international airstrikes against al-Qaida militants in his country because they were “a global problem” that “needs to be addressed globally.”

He emphasized Thursday that he wanted the airstrikes to be properly targeted.

“That’s what we support,” Ali said. “Not necessarily killing innocent lives.”

US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton:

The people of Somalia have waited many years. They have heard many promises, they have seen many deadlines come and go, and it is time – past time – to buckle down and do the work that will bring stability to Somalia for the first time in many people’s lives. The position of the United States is straightforward: Attempts to obstruct progress and maintain the broken status quo will not be tolerated. We will encourage the international community to impose further sanctions, including travel bans and asset freezes on people inside and outside the TFG who seek to undermine Somalia’s peace and security or to delay or even prevent the political transition.

UN Secretary General Ban Ki Moon:

United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said more money is needed to spread security beyond the capital.

“We need the surge in Mogadishu to show what is possible in southern and central Somalia. We need to reconsolidate military gains, provide the basic social services and contribute to reconstruction,” said Ban. “Sixteen United Nations agencies and our partners are working hard to make progress. But they are underfunded… this is a bold agenda, we have no more time to wait and see. To any donors still wavering, I say get off the fence, help prevent another famine and offer new hope to Somalia.”

Kenyan Foreign Minister Moses Wetangula:

Moses Wetangula, foreign minister of neighbouring Kenya, told Reuters he wanted to see “a renewed and reinvigorated international commitment to Somalia”.

“We hope it’s not going to be the usual talking shop where we make flowery speeches and get clapped and go away without caring whether it will be followed up or not. I hope we will have a commitment to assist the warring factions in Somalia to instil a sense of peace and working together.”

Oxfam:

While we recognise the huge efforts of the UK Government to make the conference a success, what we had hoped for was a recognition that 20 years of internationally imposed solutions have failed. However, what we’ve seen once again are externally driven solutions that haven’t worked, aren’t working and will not work.

Amnesty International: “London Conference on Somalia hasn’t adequately tackled the dire human rights situation in the country.”

The BBC’s Mary Harper:

There seems to be a bit of a contradiction in the final communique. On the one hand, it states in bold type that decisions on Somalia’s future “rest with the Somali people”. On the other it talks about outsiders taking some control of the government’s budget, with the establishment of a Joint Financial Management Board.

It is also outsiders who have decided that the time for political transition is over; they even say they will “incentivise progress” towards representative government.

Al Shabab:

Al-Shabab said the London conference was another attempt to colonise Somalia.

“They want us under trusteeship and we will not allow that. God willing we will face the outcome with full force and stop it,” said al-Shabab spokesman Ali Mohamud Rage.

Some other Somali criticisms of the conference can be found here.

I unfortunately could not find a statement by Turkey, which is an increasingly important actor in Somalia (see a recent piece on their aid efforts here, and a piece on the praise Turkey won from a Somali businessman here). Turkey will host another international conference on Somalia this June. I also could not find a reaction from Russia, which sent a delegation to the conference.

Please use the comments to post additional reactions and to share your own. Do you think the conference will make a difference in/for Somalia?