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Donors Pledge $2.7 Billion in ‘New Deal’ for Somalia

Donors Pledge $2.7 Billion in ‘New Deal’ for Somaliai
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September 17, 2013 1:26 AM
International donors meeting in Brussels Monday pledged $2.7 billion as part of a ‘New Deal’ to help rebuild Somalia. As Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London, Somalia's president said his country is undergoing a ‘remarkable transformation’ after two decades of civil war and lawlessness.
Henry Ridgwell
Delegates from 50 countries across Africa, Europe and the Persian Gulf came together in Brussels Monday to sign a ‘New Deal Compact’ to help rebuild Somalia,
after two decades of civil war and lawlessness.  The plan sets out government spending priorities and future international support.

The $2.7 billion included $870 million from the European Union, which has already given significant support to Somalia.

Somali President Hassan Skeikh Mohamud said he welcomes the ongoing international engagement.

“A remarkable transformation is being achieved in Somalia as the world recognizes we have the greatest opportunity, not without potential, in a generation - to reinvest in sustainable peace and development,” he said.

Mohamud’s government is the first to receive official U.S. recognition since 1991.

He described four key priorities: security, legal reform, public finances and economic recovery.

Somalia's President Hassan Sheikh Mohamud, right, gestures a he and European Union Foreign Policy Chief Catherine Ashton address the media prior to an EU Somalia conference in Brussels, Sept. 16, 2013.Somalia's President Hassan Sheikh Mohamud, right, gestures a he and European Union Foreign Policy Chief Catherine Ashton address the media prior to an EU Somalia conference in Brussels, Sept. 16, 2013.
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Somalia's President Hassan Sheikh Mohamud, right, gestures a he and European Union Foreign Policy Chief Catherine Ashton address the media prior to an EU Somalia conference in Brussels, Sept. 16, 2013.
Somalia's President Hassan Sheikh Mohamud, right, gestures a he and European Union Foreign Policy Chief Catherine Ashton address the media prior to an EU Somalia conference in Brussels, Sept. 16, 2013.
“The new deal must be delivered on the ground soon.  It must not be a well-intentioned bureaucratic process that remains remote from the Somali lives," he said. "The expectations from our people are extremely and understandably high.”

The EU’s Foreign Policy Chief Catherine Ashton hailed the agreement.

“I hope you will take home with you a message of support from every country and organization represented in this room that we stand with them and we stand with you Mr. President, on what we know is going to continue to be extremely challenging,” she said.

Currently much of the EU funding goes towards the African Union Mission in Somalia, known as AMISOM, comprising some 17,000 troops.

Alongside government forces, the AMISOM troops are battling al-Shabab Islamist militants - a group linked to al-Qaida.

In recent weeks, al-Shabab has stepped up its attacks, killing 18 people in a twin bombing in Mogadishu earlier this month.

Residents of the city, like Ahmed Sheikh Abukar, say there can be no progress without improved security.

Abukar said the first priority should be genuine peace and the government needs support to deal with the security problem. He said peace will enable the country to prosper as a nation, adding that Somalis are business-oriented people and if there is peace Somalis can rebuild the nation.

Cranes and building sites form the new Mogadishu skyline - a stark contrast to the battle-scarred buildings destroyed by decades of fighting.

Somalia’s president says this is evidence that his country is slowly rebuilding - and that continued foreign help is vital to ensure the New Deal is not a false start.

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