— World leaders are gathering in London this week to coordinate efforts to help Somalia rebuild, following two decades of civil war. Somalis on the streets of Mogadishu hope the conference will bring improvements to security.
The British Foreign Office says more than 50 international partner countries and organizations have been invited to Tuesday’s conference, co-hosted by the British and Somali governments.
Participants are slated to discuss the Somali government’s plans for developing the armed forces, the justice sector and other institutions weakened during more than 20 years of chaos that followed the ousting of President Siad Barre in 1991.
In a video message posted on Britain's Foreign Office website
, British Prime Minister David Cameron said the meeting aims to sustain the progress made since another conference for Somalia last year.
“We will not allow Somalia to fall back. The Somali people are seizing the opportunity to forge a new future and we will support them every step of the way,” said Cameron.
Somali President Hassan Sheikh Mohamud and a host of other Somali government officials are expected to attend the conference.
On the streets of Mogadishu, citizens are hopeful the London meeting will improve lives in the city still plagued with violence.
Aweys Hassan, a student in the capital, said, “What we expect most is that the international community supports the Somali government in restoring security of the country. That is the biggest priority for us." He added that Somalis also hope the country gets support for reconstruction.
The African Union peacekeeping force and regional militaries have been successful in pushing the militant group al-Shabab out of major cities. The al-Qaida linked militants have maintained their grip on areas of southern Somalia, though, and continue to launch sporadic attacks on the capital, including a car bombing Sunday that killed at least eight people.
The London conference will be followed Wednesday by a trade event promoting investment opportunities in Somalia.