News / Africa

High Hopes, Tempered Expectations for International Somalia Conference

A soldier in the African Union Mission in Somalia takes his position during fighting between Islamists and government forces, in southern Mogadishu, February 14, 2012.
A soldier in the African Union Mission in Somalia takes his position during fighting between Islamists and government forces, in southern Mogadishu, February 14, 2012.
Ivan Broadhead

British Prime Minister David Cameron is preparing to host 40 world leaders Thursday in London to discuss how best to foster stability in Somalia.  It will be the first time in a decade that the international community will collectively focus on ways to end Somalia’s 21 years of chaos and conflict and rebuild the devastated country.  But while the international community might have high hopes, expectations are more tempered among the Somali people.

Despite the ongoing strife, now in its third decade, life in Mogadishu is stabilizing. In terms of security, the African Union peacekeeping mission (AMISOM) continues to push the al-Qaida-linked militant group al-Shabab, further from the city.

On the political front, at a meeting in Garowe, in Puntland, last weekend, ministers and international observers agreed to a timetable for the establishment of a new government by August.

Before departing for the London talks, the head of Somalia’s seven-year-old transitional federal government (TFG), President Sheikh Sharif Shiekh Ahmed, confessed he was surprised when the British government announced its plan to hold this week’s conference.  He spoke through a translator. “I see it as a window of opportunity. The international community has finally seen where the problems lie and we will finally get a comprehensive solution," he said.

President Sharif reflected on why these talks might succeed where numerous others have failed in the past. “For every conference in the past, it has been said it is the last chance for Somalia.  But the Somali people are strong.  They want to live in peace ... we have made progress that can be built on," he said.

World leaders set to attend the London conference include French President Nicolas Sarkozy and U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.   

The British have identified four areas they hope the international community can assist the long-failed state: social and political capacity building, military security, and sustaining the humanitarian effort amid the ongoing drought on the Horn of Africa.  They may also discuss Somali piracy, which costs the global economy an estimated $7 billion a year.   

While grateful to Britain for putting Somalia back on the political agenda, President Ahmed, without being explicit, suggested Somalia has been a low priority for the international community, unlike Afghanistan and Iraq. “Of course the Somali people have to have ownership of their own issues.  But if you look at any country where there has been a failure in the system, the international community has come to their aid," he said.

Mogadishu might feel safer today than at any time in the last two decades.  But despite its retreat from the city in August of last year, al-Shabab has begun an intensive bombing campaign.

Sources say the Islamist insurgents detonate an average of six improvised explosive devices detonate each day.

Many local leaders hope the London conference will mean AMISOM will be given helicopters and planes to attack al-Shabab, a strategy Kenya is successfully adopting in the south of the country.

Dayib Hussein, is wearing the shirt of London football club Chelsea, but like many people on the streets of Mogadishu, he has no knowledge of the talks that will take place in his team’s home city.  His wife does know about the talks, and says she wants the conference to supply more resources to defeat al-Shabab and bring some kind of normalcy to the city.  The Hussein's two year old son was injured by an al-Shabab car bomb a week ago.

You May Like

Is Air Travel Safe?

Aviation expert says despite tragic losses of Malaysian Airlines flights 370 and 17, industry experienced lowest fatality rate in recorded history last year More

Multimedia 100 Days Later, Nigerian Girls Still Held

Activists holding rallies in Nigeria and several other countries to mark 100th day of captivity for more than 200 schoolgirls being held by Boko Haram More

Chocolate Too Bitter? Swap Sugar for Mushrooms

US food technology company develops fermentation process using mushrooms to reduce bitterness in cocoa beans, believes it will cut sugar content in candy More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
US Carriers Suspend Travel to Israeli
X
Carolyn Presutti
July 23, 2014 1:21 AM
The United States is prohibiting American carriers from flying to Israel's airport in Tel Aviv for 24 hours, because of rising violence between Israel and Hamas militants. The action was announced on Tuesday, after a rocket fired by Hamas militants in the Gaza Strip landed near the airport. As VOA's Carolyn Presutti tells us, international officials soon may have to determine which combat zones are too dangerous for commercial flights.
Video

Video US Carriers Suspend Travel to Israel

The United States is prohibiting American carriers from flying to Israel's airport in Tel Aviv for 24 hours, because of rising violence between Israel and Hamas militants. The action was announced on Tuesday, after a rocket fired by Hamas militants in the Gaza Strip landed near the airport. As VOA's Carolyn Presutti tells us, international officials soon may have to determine which combat zones are too dangerous for commercial flights.
Video

Video NASA Focuses on Earth-Like Planets

For decades, looking for life elsewhere in the universe meant listening for signals that could be from distant civilizations. But recent breakthroughs in space technology refocused some of that effort toward finding planets that may harbor life, even in its primitive form. VOA’s George Putic reports on a recent panel discussion at NASA’s headquarters, in Washington.
Video

Video IAEA: Iran Turns its Enriched Uranium Into Less Harmful Form

Iran has converted its stockpiles of enriched uranium into a less dangerous form that is more difficult to use for nuclear weapons, according to the United Nations’ Atomic Energy Agency. The move complies with an interim deal reached with Western powers on Iran's nuclear program last year, in exchange for easing of sanctions. Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London.
Video

Video Relic of Saint Draws Catholics Worried About Immigration Issue

A Roman Catholic saint who is a figure of devotion for those crossing the border into the United States is attracting believers concerned about the plight of undocumented immigrants. Mike O'Sullivan reports from Los Angeles, where a relic of Saint Toribio has drawn thousands to local churches.
Video

Video US Awards Medal of Honor for Heroics in Bloodiest of Afghan Battles

U.S. combat troops are withdrawing from Afghanistan, on pace to leave the country by the end of this year. But on Monday, U.S. President Barack Obama took time to honor a soldier whose actions while under fire in Afghanistan earned him the Medal of Honor. VOA's Jeff Seldin has more from the Pentagon.
Video

Video Ukraine Rebels Surrender MH17 Black Boxes

After days of negotiations, a senior separatist leader handed over two black boxes from an airliner downed over eastern Ukraine to Malaysian experts early Tuesday. While on Monday, the U.N. Security Council unanimously demanded that armed groups controlling the crash site allow safe and unrestricted access to the wreckage.
Video

Video In Cambodia, HIV Diagnosis Brings Deadly Shame

Although HIV/AIDS is now a treatable condition, a positive diagnosis is still a life altering experience. In Cambodia, people living with HIV are often disowned by friends, family and the community. This humiliation can be unbearable. We bring you one Cambodian woman’s struggle to overcome a life tragedy and her own HIV positive diagnosis.
Video

Video Nature of Space Exploration Enters New Age

Forty-five years ago this month, the first humans walked on the moon. It was during an era of the space race between the United States and the Soviet Union. World politics have changed since then and -- as Elizabeth Lee reports -- so has the nature of space exploration.

AppleAndroid