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World must address failure in Somalia

Britain will provide new support for health services, which will benefit over 100,000 women and children, and for weapons management that will see more weapons taken off the streets

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More must be done to tackle the underlying causes of instability in Somalia if years of devastating decline are to be reversed, Andrew Mitchell warned today on a visit to two separate parts of the country: Gedo and Puntland.

Mr Mitchell said efforts aimed at gripping the issue had failed over the last two decades and a new, stronger international approach must be agreed at a high-level conference in London next month if the world is to tackle both the root causes and effects of the problems the country faces.

Britain will increase its own aid efforts focused on the underlying issues affecting the region over the next three years as part of its ongoing aid programme, including more police training, a tougher judicial system and jobs for young men.

Aid projects focused on resolving local conflicts and strengthening the police are expected to double next year with more done to make district authorities more accountable and able to deliver basic services.

Alongside this, support for job creation and economic development will also double, creating 45,000 jobs across Somalia by 2015. Unemployment and extreme poverty are believed to play a key part in young men turning to piracy, crime and extremism.

During his visit to Puntland Mr Mitchell announced new British support for health services, which will benefit over 100,000 women and children, and for weapons management that will see more weapons taken off the streets by enabling police stations to store them securely.

The International Development Secretary also met with police trainers, local leaders and market traders and health workers, to hear about conditions on the ground and see how targeted aid can improve stability in more secure areas. Britain hopes that building on progress in Mogadishu and the more peaceful areas could help stability across the whole country.

Britain’s aid work is part of a wider international push to address Somalia’s long-standing decline, with representatives from over 40 countries and agencies scheduled to meet in London next month to discuss issues such as the ongoing famine, piracy and terrorism.

Many thousands of Somalis have been devastated by famine and not enough is being invested in Somalia’s future. Somalia’s inability to cope with and recover from the recent drought is considered a key symptom of a failed state.

During a visit to Gedo, Mr Mitchell warned that millions of Somalis remain in need and hundreds of thousands risk being dragged back into famine during the coming year if aid flows don’t continue or if there is another shock.

The International Development Secretary announced a new aid package for Somalia for 2012, supplying food, medicine and farming support to over one million people.

Current UN estimates show that the regions that only recently came out of famine, Bay, Bakool and Lower Shabelle, remain on a knife-edge and could slip back this year.

International Development Secretary, Andrew Mitchell, said:

“The recent famine has devastated much of south Somalia, with hundreds of thousands still struggling to recover and many more stuck in camps across the region. Britain helped people through the toughest times last year and we will continue do so in the year ahead, providing food, medicine or seeds to more than one million people.

“The famine was caused by a terrible drought, high food prices and insecurity - conditions made much worse by the fact Somalia is a failed state. Famine, piracy, terrorism - these are all symptoms of years of breakdown.

“It is crucial that we tackle head on the underlying causes of these problems. That is why Britain is spearheading a new international effort but we need others to play their part.

“We want to secure a new, stronger international approach in London next month, to break this cycle of decline and offer ordinary Somalis hope of a better future.”

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Published 30 January 2012