News / Africa

Somalia Conference Stirs Range of Sentiments

British Prime Minister David Cameron, bottom row third right, with delegates of London Conference on Somalia, Lancaster House, London, Feb. 23, 2012.
British Prime Minister David Cameron, bottom row third right, with delegates of London Conference on Somalia, Lancaster House, London, Feb. 23, 2012.
Henry Ridgwell

Twenty years ago in northern Kenya, an encampment was set up to deal with the influx of Somalis escaping drought and civil war. Now home to half-a-million people, Dadaab, the world’s largest refugee camp, represents just one symptom of Somalia’s adversity, merely one indicator of the scale of the task undertaken by delegates in Thursday's London conference.

Attended by representatives from more than 50 countries, talks on the security and future of Somalia concluded with comments from the host, British Prime Minister David Cameron, who insisted concrete progress had been made.

"Today’s conference has put new momentum into the political process," he said. "We’ve backed the Somalis' decision to end the mandate of the transitional federal institutions in August. This timetable will be stuck to. There will be no further extensions. We will hold the Somalis to this. We’ll act against those who stand in the way of the peace process and we’ve also agreed the formation of a new government must be as inclusive as possible."

Delegates agreed that rebuilding Somalia has to start by tackling al-Shabab militants, an al-Qaida-linked group that has recently lost ground but still controls much of the center and south of the country.

Benedicte Goderiaux of human rights group Amnesty International says the conference did not do enough to deal with atrocities committed against Somali people.

"Direct attacks against civilians, indiscriminate or disproportionate attacks, these are crimes under international law, these are war crimes," she said. "You have also the very widespread recruitment of children for the purpose of putting them on the frontline."

Prime minister of Somalia’s transitional government, Abdiweli Mohamed Ali, was clear about what kind of help he wanted in tackling al-Shabab, which recently formalized its al-Qaida alliance.

"We have to face this menace, and al-Qaida in Somalia is not a Somali problem -- it is a global problem that must be addressed globally," he said. "Therefore, again, we welcome targeted airstrikes against al-Qaida, not against the populace."

Talk of intervention by foreign powers in Somalia prompted protests outside the conference.

"The conference is about 40 countries coming together discussing the Somali issue, [but] what we feel is that Somalia is not part of it," said Cabdi Aakhiro of Voice 4 Somalia. "They are discussing their interests, not the Somali interests."

But delegates inside the conference disagreed, insisting that interests of Somalia and the world are intertwined, and that al-Shabab's alliance with al-Qaida has only stoked fears that Somalia could become a base for exporting terrorism.

Meantime, piracy off the Somali coast has continued to cost the global shipping industry billions of dollars. According to the United Nations, 246 seafarers are currently being held captive by Somali pirates.

Analysts have said that while the conference did not produce many concrete policies, it did prompt a change in attitudes toward Somalia.

For the first time in 20 years, that could provide a glimmer of hope for the country’s hundreds of thousands of refugees.

You May Like

India PM Modi's party distances itself from religious conversions

BJP under fire for being slow to rein in hardline affiliate groups allegedly trying to promote a Hindu-dominant agenda by luring Muslims and Christians to convert to Hinduism More

Anti-Whaling Group Found in Contempt of Court

Radical environmentalists who threw acid and smoke bombs at Japanese whalers in the waters off Antarctica continue their campaign to disrupt Japan's annual whale hunt More

UN's Ban Urges End to Discrimination Against Ebola Workers

Ban was speaking in Guinea on the second day of a whistle-stop tour aimed at thanking healthcare workers of the countries at the heart of the epidemic 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.
Sudan School Becomes Target of Aerial Attacksi
X
December 19, 2014 12:45 AM
The school dropout rate is at an all-time high in Sudan's South Kordofan state because many schools have been destroyed during the three-year civil war between the government and SPLA-N rebel forces. Adam Bailes visited Sudan's Nuba Mountains' region and reports many children are simply too scared to go to school
Video

Video Sudan School Becomes Target of Aerial Attacks

The school dropout rate is at an all-time high in Sudan's South Kordofan state because many schools have been destroyed during the three-year civil war between the government and SPLA-N rebel forces. Adam Bailes visited Sudan's Nuba Mountains' region and reports many children are simply too scared to go to school
Video

Video VOA Reporter Tours Devastated Peshawar School

Islamist militants wearing military uniforms and strapped with explosives attacked a military run school Tuesday in the northwestern Pakistani city of Peshawar. At least 141 people were killed in the horrific attack, most of them young students. VOA reporter Ayaz Gul visited the devastated school and attended the funeral of the principal who courageously tried to save her students from the deadly attack.
Video

Video Nigerians Fleeing Boko Haram Languish in Camp Near Capital

In its five-year effort to impose Islamic law in northeastern Nigeria, the Boko Haram extremist group has killed thousands of people and forced hundreds of thousands to flee. Some of those who ran for their lives now live in squalor on the edges of the capital, Abuja. Chris Stein reports for VOA.
Video

Video Putin Says Russian Economy Will Emerge Stronger

Russian President Vladimir Putin has said his country's sinking economy will not only recover but also become stronger, despite falling oil prices and Western sanctions over Ukraine. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports.
Video

Video Detained Turkish Journalists Follow Teachings of US-Based Preacher

The Turkish government’s jailing of critical journalists has sparked international condemnation and is being seen as an effort to undermine the followers of an ailing Turkish preacher based in the United States. VOA religion reporter Jerome Socolovsky has more.
Video

Video ‘Anti-Islamization’ Marches Increase Tensions In Germany

Anti-immigrant rallies in Germany have been building in recent weeks, peaking Monday night in the city of Dresden where tens of thousands of people turned out to demonstrate against what they call the ‘Islamization’ of the West. Germany has offered asylum to more Syrian refugees than any other country, and this appears to have set off the protests. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video Aceh Rebuilt Decade After Tsunami, But Scars Remain

On December 26, 2004 there was an earthquake in the Indian Ocean so powerful it caused the Earth’s axis to wobble a few centimeters. Onshore on the island of Sumatra, the resulting tsunami was devastating. A decade later, VOA Correspondent Steve Herman reports from Banda Aceh, Indonesia, where although there is little remaining evidence of the physical devastation, the psychological scars among survivors remain.
Video

Video Refugees Living in Kenya Long for Peace in the Home Countries

Kenya is host to numerous refugees seeking safe haven from conflict. Immigrants from Somalia face challenges in their new lives in Kenya. Ahead of International Migrants Day (December 18) Lenny Ruvaga has more for VOA News from the Kenyan capital.

All About America

AppleAndroid