Ahead of hosting an international conference on Somalia this Thursday, the Prime Minister met with members of the Somali diaspora community to hear about their homeland and how the international community can best help the country to tackle its problems.
Representatives from Somaliland, Mogadishu, Puntland, the minority clans in South Central Somalia and diaspora from Kenyan and Tanzania, as well as representatives from the London Somali Youth Forum and the Council of Somali Organisations attended the meeting on Monday.
The Prime Minister heard how the Government can best support the Somali UK diasporas to contribute to the support needed on the ground and how we can all work together to secure a long term settlement in the Horn of Africa.
He assured the round table that the government was committed to maintaining close cooperation with the Somali diaspora beyond Thursday.
Speaking after the meeting the Prime Minister said:
As we all agreed at the round table, the whole of the world needs to get behind Somalia to turn it into a safer and more prosperous place.
The London Somali Conference is about recognising the huge amount of effort going on in Somalia to help rebuild the country and what the world needs to do is help that take place and to grow. The Conference is an opportunity to show that we fully support the efforts of the Somali people themselves to build a stronger, safer, more prosperous country. In particular how we forge a new momentum in working together to tackle piracy, terrorism, conflict, poverty and famine.
For two decades the problems in Somalia have been dismissed as simply too difficult and too remote to deal with. That fatalism has failed Somalia. And it’s failed Britain too. Yes, it’s an incredibly difficult situation but I have great expectations and great hopes for what I think we can achieve in lots of different areas and I’m convinced that the international community can help create a breakthrough. In the end, it’s about giving everyone in Somalia, particularly young people, some hope of a job and a voice and a future.”
Baroness Warsi - who was also in attendance - said:
At a time when Britain and the world are getting behind the people of Somalia to build a stable future it is important that the voice of the British Somali diaspora community is heard. Not only are they one of the largest diaspora communities outside of Africa but they’re also huge contributors through remittance, travel between the UK and Somalia, trade and investment and ongoing community and humanitarian work.
The British Somali community are a wide and diverse community, and it’s important that we listen to what they have to say. The diaspora roundtable has kick-started an important week of discussions on Somalia.
International Development Minister Stephen O’Brien also met with Somali community groups in Bristol, where he outlined the UK’s support for Somalia during the recent famine and set out the aims of Thursday’s conference.
The Government is focussed on practical measures in seven key areas to help make Somalia and the region more stable and secure:
- political process: shape a stable political future for Somalis by agreeing a form of government that will succeed the transitional government in August 2012, and will represent Somalia’s sub-national regions.
- security: expand the remit of the African Union’s peacekeeping mission, AMISOM, and put its funding on a sustainable footing.
- terrorism: strengthen international resolve to tackle the terrorist threat emanating from Somalia.
- piracy: forge new international agreements to destroy the pirate business model and detain convicted pirates.
- stability: agree international funding for an international support package for Somalia’s regions, and set up mechanisms to stamp out corruption.
- humanitarian: secure renewed commitment to tackling the humanitarian crisis and a commitment to support building up resilience to crisis.
- international coordination: agree on a new process to maintain the pressure and support for change.
Backgroud information on Somali diaspora
At least 15% of the Somali population (10 million) live outside its borders.
The UK is home to one of the largest communities (200,000) outside East Africa mostly based in London, Birmingham, Leicester, Manchester, Leeds and Bristol.
Many of the Ministers in the Transitional Federal Government come from the diaspora, including from the UK.
Estimated that the diaspora worldwide remits anything from $1.3-$2 billion a year back to Somalia, of which up to $130-200 million goes to humanitarian and development assistance.