Written statement to Parliament

London Conference on Somalia: Humanitarian conclusions

This speech was published under the 2010 to 2015 Conservative and Liberal Democrat coalition government

The humanitarian side event to the London Conference on Somalia took place at Lancaster House on 23 February 2012.

The event aimed to maintain the international community’s focus on the current and protracted humanitarian crisis, and efforts to improve the effectiveness of the international response in the future.

Conclusions

The participants welcomed the initiative to convene a humanitarian meeting, which brought the international community together to address the ongoing and protracted humanitarian situation in Somalia.

We welcomed the 3 February announcement by the United Nations that famine conditions in Somalia have ended. However, we emphasised our grave concern that 2.34 million people remain in crisis, including 1.35 million internally displaced persons, and that the number of Somali refugees in the region has risen to nearly 1 million. There were particular concerns around vulnerable women and children in Somalia, with 325,000 children acutely malnourished, rising levels of sexual and gender based violence, and continuing child rights abuses. We noted that the humanitarian situation and protection environment remains extremely fragile, especially in the south.

We reaffirmed the importance of responding to early warning with early action, and that humanitarian efforts should be guided by principles of humanity, independence, neutrality and impartiality to ensure assistance and protection reaches those who need it, when they need it. We welcomed the efforts of all actors engaged in the provision of humanitarian assistance to the Somali people, including national and local authorities, the United Nations and its member states (particularly regional governments), civil society (including from the diaspora) and non-governmental organisations. We agreed that effective coordination by all aid providers remains paramount to maximise the coverage of needs.

We emphasised the importance of preserving the distinction between humanitarian objectives and political and security objectives, and that blurring the lines between those objectives jeopardises the delivery of vital assistance to the Somali people. In this regard, we called on all parties in Somalia to ensure that humanitarian actors are given full, safe and unhindered access to those in need, and that they can access aid in safety.

We agreed on the need for the Somali authorities and international community to continue providing timely and sustained support to help alleviate the suffering of the Somali people. We noted that emergency assistance should be provided in a way that is supportive of the recovery and development of the Somali people, and creates the conditions for lasting solutions for the displaced, including voluntary return. We agreed to deepen ongoing efforts, led by the United Nations, to strengthen coordination. 

Participants also agreed that, in addition to meeting immediate humanitarian needs, the international community should focus on helping the Somali people build their resilience to future shocks, by committing more multi-year support for livelihoods and basic social services. We agreed on the need for the United Nations to work with others to develop a strategy for this work, drawing on recent and ongoing efforts by Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD) countries to improve the mitigation of drought emergencies.

We reaffirmed the importance of all parties to the conflict complying with international law, including International Humanitarian Law (IHL), in particular that armed actors should take all necessary measures to prevent civilian casualties, and ensure that military action does not hinder humanitarian access. We agreed on the need to enhance monitoring and reporting systems for violations of IHL in Somalia.

We expressed our concern at the plight of refugees in neighbouring countries, including many women and children, and our gratitude and continued support to refugee-hosting countries. We agreed on the need for the international community to work in collaboration with governments in the region to identify durable solutions for Somali refugees that respect international laws. We welcomed the commitment by the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees to take a renewed lead in building consensus for durable solutions.