by Abdulkadir M. Ga’al & Mohamoud A. Hashi,
Thursday, October 23, 2014
A high Level Partnership Forum on Somalia also called “Somalia´s New Deal Compact” is scheduled to be held in Copenhagen, Denmark on 19th -20th of November 2014. The meeting is a follow-up to the first phase of the New Deal for Somalia held In Brussels, Belgium on 17th of September 2013.
A big delegation led by the president of the Federal Republic of Somalia H.E. Hassan Sheikh Mohamoud as well as leaders of the various administrative states and regions will be attending the forum. The conference will be co-chaired by Somalia and the United Nations and has an objective in bringing together Somalia and its international partners i.e. governments and international organizations to promote the vision of a peaceful, stable and democratic Somalia.
It is also a world-wide well known tradition that when a Somali president visits a country and concludes his official visit with the authorities in the host country, to meet the Somali Diaspora in the host country as well as the Diaspora in the neighboring countries who are willing to attend. This is a very important event and has a dual purpose. First the president gives first-hand information about the actual situation of the country i.e. politically, economically, socially as well as opportunities and roles for the Diaspora. Second the Diaspora gets an opportunity to comment, criticize and contribute ideas about the situation in Somalia. This is a purely an open event led by the Somali Diaspora in the host country for the Somali president.
On this background and since the announcement that the follow-up of Somalia´s New Deal Compact is to be held in Copenhagen, Denmark, the Somali Community in Scandinavia in general and the Somali Community in Denmark in particular were very busy in organizing themselves and preparing for this upcoming event in order to play their expected roles.
The active members of the Somali society in Denmark have therefore met and consulted about the Diaspora Event for the visit of the Federal President of Somalia with a preparatory committee from Somalia who came to Denmark in June this year in order to pave the way for the follow-up meeting of Somalia´s New Deal Compact. The committee on behalf of the Federal Republic of Somalia had accepted and agreed the idea of an open event led by the Somali Diaspora in Denmark where the president of the Federal Republic of Somalia will address the Somali community in Denmark and from other Scandinavian countries who are willing to attend. The preparatory committee shared the idea with the Danish Ministry of Foreign Affairs and clearly explained that it is purely a Somali Community event for the Somali president and that the Danish government´s role was only limited to security and facilitation.
The Danish Ministry of Foreign Affairs has taken over the Diaspora Event
Unfortunately and indeed to the surprise of every one, the Danish Ministry of Foreign Affairs has taken over the Diaspora Event without consulting with the members from the Somali Diaspora who have been directly involved in the preparation process and disturbed the hard work by the Somali community in Denmark.
On the 2nd of October 2014 the Danish Ministry of Foreign Affairs gave suddenly a press release on the Somali Diaspora Event for the president of the Federal Republic of Somalia. In the press release the ministry stated that the event will take place on 18th of October and due to security reasons the participants will be limited to a total of 335 people, 205 of whom will be meeting directly with the president and 130 will be following the event in an adjacent hall with a live screen transmission.
In addition to that the Danish Ministry of Foreign Affairs also imposed on the Somali Diaspora an on-line registration system on www.hlpfcopenhagen.dk link with first come first served principle.
The online registration system is completely unfair as it will create exclusion and discrimination among the Somali Diaspora in Denmark. Somali Diaspora does not have same IT facilities and literacy level. Some of the Somalis in Denmark are old-aged people or illiterate men and women who cannot use online registration.
We, the Somali Diaspora members, who led the process so far and still working hard on it, believe that this is unacceptable as it is an insult and humiliation to both the president of the Federal Republic of Somalia and the Somali Diaspora in Denmark.
Furthermore, there are more than 17,000 residents with Somali backgrounds in Denmark and we are aware that other Somali Diaspora groups in the neighboring Scandinavian countries are also heading to Copenhagen to attend and share the event. We are also aware that similar events were held in Minneapolis, USA in August this year and in London, UK last year. In both occasions an audience of more than 5,000 attended the events. Regarding the security and safety situation, Copenhagen is 1000 times more secure and safe than Minneapolis and London.
What is going on in the minds of the responsible officers from Danish Ministry of Foreign Affairs who are entrusted with the Somalia´s New Deal Compact follow-up meeting in Copenhagen?
In order to mitigate the problem and find a viable solution, the Somali Ambassador to BENELUX and EU countries who is also delegated by the Federal Government to coordinate the Copenhagen Meeting, H.E. Dr. Ali Said Faqi was invited by the community. He paid a four-day visit, 6th-9th of October 2014 to Copenhagen and met to consult with officers from the Danish Ministry of Foreign Affairs as well as the Somali community in Denmark regarding the Diaspora event for the president of the Federal Republic of Somalia and other issues related to the New Deal Compact for Somalia. He met twice with the officers from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs during his visit in Denmark namely the 7th and 8th of October 214. His views were as clear as crystal and they were either to cancel the whole event if it is too risky as the ministry claims or allow the Somali community to continue their open event arrangement. The ambassador left Denmark with no clear cut answer regarding the open arrangement for the Diaspora event.
Is the Danish Ministry of Foreign Affairs working with or against the Active Somali Diaspora in Denmark?
The Danish Ministry of Foreign Affairs, especially Department for Africa prefers to polarize the Active Somali Diaspora rather than working with them positively as relevant stakeholders. The ministry resorted to reach out to the Somali Community in Denmark through the Danish Refugee Council (DRC) which has forwarded the information only to the Diaspora organizations and individuals in their networks. The fact is that DRC does not have contact with whole Somali community in Denmark.
The Somali Community has been living in this country for more than two decades, a time enough to know who is who. There are many Somali Diaspora Organizations but only very few are active Diaspora organizations and the officers from the Danish Ministry of foreign Affairs know exactly the active Somali Diaspora especially those who are currently involved and took the initiatives of this event but are not willing intentionally to cooperate and work with them.
We conclude that the Danish Ministry of Foreign Affairs has a clear picture about the situation and the position of the Somali Diaspora in Denmark as well as the views of the Somali Ambassador delegated to the tasks of this event. We hope that the Danish Ministry of Foreign Affairs will give a thorough consideration to all above-mentioned issues and take appropriate actions that will lead to a very successful and pleasant Diaspora Event.
Abdulkadir M. Ga’al, Copenhagen, Denmark: E-mail: [email protected]
Mohamoud A. Hashi, Aarhus, Denmark: E-mail: [email protected]