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London Conference Focuses on Economic, Security Support for Somalia | ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive 2005 -2017
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In this photo taken Saturday, March 25, 2017, a Somali woman holds her child Dahabo Sheikh Mumin, 1, as they attend a health center in Baidoa, Somalia. (AP Photo/Farah Abdi Warsameh)

Cairo, London, Jeddah – An international conference hosted by the British capital on Thursday discussed means to promote stability in Somalia and support efforts deployed by President Mohamed Abdullahi Mohamed to face the country’s major security and humanitarian challenges.

The Somali president called on the international community to assist his country in countering terrorism, corruption and poverty.

He also pledged to take appropriate measures to mobilize the Somali people and enable them to contribute to the development of one of the poorest African countries.

Around 40 state delegations and institutions, including the World Bank, the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and the Arab League, participated in the meeting, which was held in the presence of UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres, US Secretary of Defense James Mattis, British Prime Minister Theresa May and EU High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy Federica Mogherini.

Addressing the conference, the British premier urged the international community to increase support for Somalia, “as the country confronts a potential famine and ongoing insecurity.”

In his opening remarks, Guterres called for an additional $900 million to aid the 6.2 million people “whose crops have withered, livestock has died and waterholes have dried up.”

He noted that the extra funding was needed because more than 6 million Somalis — about half the country’s population — were in need of assistance. He said 275,000 malnourished children were at risk of starvation.

Mogherini said she believed that there was “a new opportunity for Somalia to consolidate peace, generate growth and set up a new relationship with its neighbors”.

She also underlined the European Union’s continuous support to the African country.

“In this year alone the European Union and its member states will have invested over €800 million in Somalia, which will bring our total support to €3,5 billion for the 2015-2020 period,” Mogherini said.

“And Today, I am glad to announce a commitment of a further €200 million for Somalia. We do this because we all share an interest in peace in the Horn of Africa. The future of Somalia matters not only to its citizens, but to a region that is crucial for global stability,” she added.

Secretary General of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC), Youssef Al-Othaimeen underlined the need for UN agencies and civil society organizations to scale up assistance for hunger-stricken Somalia.

He also urged the international community to invest in agriculture, livestock and fisheries and ease the country’s public debt.