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Horn of Africa Forum Discusses Regional Integration, Peace, Security

A Somali refugee waits to board a U.N. plane bound for Somalia, part of the UN's Voluntary Repatriation program, in the Dadaab refugee camp, Kenya, Dec. 19, 2017.

More than 100 ethnic Somali scholars, politicians and traditional leaders from across the Horn of Africa region have concluded a three-day forum in Djibouti that touched on the issues of peace, security and regional integration.

The forum was organized by The Heritage Institute for Policy Studies in Somalia, an independent, nonprofit, nonpartisan think tank in Mogadishu.

Abdirashid Khalif Hashi, executive director of the think tank, said the forum was the first of its kind to provide such an opportunity for Somalis across the region to discuss issues of concern through professional experiences.

‘Constructive ideas’

“The forum, which was the first of an annual event, was intended to provide space for Somalis to come together and discuss constructive ideas supporting Somalia’s peace, reconstruction and [the] best ways to reconcile among the Somali society in the Horn of Africa,” Hashi said.

Several panels at the forum gathered to address concerns of regional security development and integration of ethnic Somalis in the region, and considered the ways that could shape the political and socioeconomic future of Somalis.

Somalis representing Kenya, Ethiopia, Djibouti and Somalia were invited to the forum, as well as those from across the region and the diaspora communities in the U.S., Europe and elsewhere.

Future of Somalia

At the conclusion of the forum, Djibouti President Ismail Omar Gulleh, whose country hosted the event, urged participants to use the discussion as an opportunity to improve people’s lives.

“Every Somali in the region, regardless of his national country, whether it is Ethiopia, Kenya or Djibouti, should contribute to the progress of his or her society,” Gulleh told those at the forum. “I am very happy that such Somali elites have gathered here to discuss the future of their people.”