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Wednesday, 03 June 2009 00:21

Somalia Wins Over $200m in Brussels Donors' Conference

By Leigh Phillips

 

EUOBSERVER / BRUSSELS,  April 24  - Somalia won pledges of over $200 million from international donors on Thursday (23 April) to support increased security within the country.

A total of $213 million (€165m) was committed at a joint United-Nations, European Union and African Union donors' conference in Brussels, with the European Commission pledging €72 million of the figure.

The monies are to support security measures and police training, with many of the organisers underlining that only by stabilising the country can the international community have any hope of bringing security to Somalia's pirate-infested waters.

"If we only treat the symptoms, piracy at sea, but not its root causes - the decay of the state and poverty - we will fail," said European Commission President Jose Manuel Barrroso, who opened the meeting.

UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon echoed the commission chief's words, saying it was not enough to only tackle the pirate scourge by using the world's navies.

"Piracy is not a water-borne disease. It is a symptom of anarchy and insecurity on the ground," he said, adding: "The only lasting security solution for Somalia is one that is owned by the Somali people themselves."

Of the commission's €72 million, €60 million will be used to support around 6,000 soldiers in the African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM), the AU's peacekeeping endeavour in the country.

The other €12 million is to back a year's worth of training from the UN Development Programme for 10,000 police officers.

The €72 million security fund comes atop €48 million in humanitarian aid from the EU executive for Somalia committed on Thursday. Commission development spokesman John Clancy said the humanitarian aid sums were fresh cash not previously announced.

Development commissioner Louis Michel said a further €20 million could be added into the the African Union support pot at a later date.

Somalia's new president, Sharif Sheikh Ahmed, was grateful for the financial support.

"I would like to thank the international community for its generosity," he told reporters.

Oxfam, the development NGO, said that in focusing on security issues and funding for troops and police, the conference let the humanitarian crisis that is occurring in the country be overshadowed by the piracy issue.

Over 3.2 million Somalis are in desperate need of emergency assistance, a 77 percent increase since January 2008. More than one million people have fled their homes in the last two years. (END/2009)

"The piracy issue that has grabbed international headlines is a symptom of deeper issues that have gone unaddressed ever since the collapse of the national government in 1991," said Elise Ford, of Oxfam's EU office.

"Without economic opportunities offering alternatives to criminality and without law and order to curb these activities, then the massive economic returns of hijacking ships will continue to drive piracy." (END/2009)

 
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