Saturday, January 12, 2013
Britain is to host a new international conference on the future of war-torn Somalia on May 7, the office of British Prime Minister David Cameron announced on Friday.
A spokeswoman for Cameron's Downing Street residence said the meeting would build on the major conference held in London last February, when international powers pledged to boost aid for Somalia to fight Islamist militants and pirates.
"The UK and Somali governments will co-host an international conference on Somalia on 7 May in the UK," the spokeswoman said.
"This will build on last year's successful meeting in London to help sustain international support for the progress being made by the Somali government."
Somalia has not had an effective central government since 1991. However, a new administration took office last year, ending eight years of transitional rule by a corruption-riddled government.
In recent months, a 17,000-strong African Union force, fighting alongside government troops and Ethiopian soldiers, have wrested a string of key towns from the country's Islamist Al-Shabaab insurgents.
The United Nations launched a $1.3 billion humanitarian aid appeal for Somalia last month as the country struggles to recover from the famine and drought that killed tens of thousands of Somalis in 2011.
The number of displaced people in Somalia, a country of nine million people, is estimated at 1.5 million, while a million refugees have also fled the conflict and famine.
Downing Street said Cameron had spoken with Somali President Hassan Sheikh Mohamud on Thursday and discussed the retreat of Al-Shabaab forces, as well as Hassan's priorities in restoring stability in Somalia.
"The Prime Minister also said that he would use the UK's Presidency of the G8 this year to reinforce further support for the efforts of the Somali government to build a strong, prosperous and democratic country," the spokeswoman said.
Representatives of some 50 governments and international organisations attended the first Somalia conference in London, including US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and UN chief Ban Ki-moon.
A follow-up conference, attended by 54 countries, was held in Istanbul in June.
Source: Daily Nation