Hunger, terrorism and piracy were the hot topics of London Conference on Somalia
High-level conference on Somalia was held in London on the 23rd of February. The main goal of the conference was to agree on the ways in which the international community can support the political process aiming to stabilise the conditions in the country. As a result of the decline of the radical islamistic group Al-Shabaab, the situation has become less hostile in Somalia. Therefore, there are more possibilities for the international community to solve problems relating to famine, terrorism and piracy.
“This was not merely a payment authorization summit, but the aim was to give a strong political message to help resolve the situation in Somalia. The outcome of the meeting was strong, and the necessary approach to the matter widely acknowledged by the international community and the Somalian quarter”, Heidi Hautala, the Finnish Minister for International Development described the summit in London.
In addition, other two representatives of Finland were the President of the Republic Tarja Halonen, on her last foreign visit, and Pekka Haavisto, the special representative of the Finnish Foreign Ministry in the Horn of Africa.
Strengthening safety and stability in Somalia will help the region to rebuild their lives and at the same time it will help strengthen the whole area of Eastern Africa. According to Minister Hautala, the worst affects of famine in the area are over for now, but humanitarian aid continues to be vital for Somalia. Finland emphasizes the importance of getting the help across, the transparency and the importance of maintaining of the funding on an adequate level.
According to Hautala, Finland is running projects to help build the water supply, sewerage and sanitation systems; the training of health professionals; and also, for instance, military training under the EU.
“We will continue to provide humanitarian aid for the most vulnerable groups, confirming the safety of the aid workers, and, in connection to piracy, Finland takes part in the necessary development of the legal framework and the improvement of the supervision of the sea regions. In addition, we support the dialogue between the religious leaders in Somalia in order to keep the developmental process in movement.”
Pirates continue to be a threat to the international shipping: during the first half of the year 2011 one-hundred-and-four ships were attacked, twenty-one ships were hijacked, and three-hundred-and-two people were taken as hostages by the pirates. Finland has supported actions to resist piracy, for instance, by taking part in the EU’s Atalanta operation in 2011. It is Finland’s view, that the international organized crime, which controls, funds and is gaining from the Somalian piracy should be challenged more systematically.
Finland has consistently emphasized the importance of maintaining the regional unity of Somalia. Also, Finland supports the additional funding of the African Union’s AMISOM-peacekeeping operation, which has been determined by the Security Council of the UN on Wednesday. A foundation will be established, which can be used to fund the freed and already stable areas, and Finland is investigating the possibilities to take part in it.
Text and photos: Jouni Mölsä and Tiina Heinilä, the Finnish embassy in London
Foreign & Commonwealth Office: London Conference on Somalia
London Conference on Somalia Communique: