Help Somalia or 'pay the price'

2012-02-23 22:23
British Prime Minister David Cameron stands with delegates for a group photograph during the London Conference on Somalia at Lancaster House in London. (Matt Dunham-Pool, AP)

British Prime Minister David Cameron stands with delegates for a group photograph during the London Conference on Somalia at Lancaster House in London. (Matt Dunham-Pool, AP) (Matt Dunham)

Multimedia   ·   User Galleries   ·   News in Pictures Send us your pictures  ·  Send us your stories

London - International powers called on Thursday for urgent action on Somalia, warning that the world will "pay the price" for failing to help the country tackle political unrest, Islamist militants and pirates.

But as officials from 50 countries and organisations gathered in London to discuss how to end two decades of unrest, Somalia's al-Qaeda allied Shabaab insurgents vowed to "wage war" against any international peace initiative.

UN chief Ban Ki-moon, British Prime Minister David Cameron and US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton were among those attending the talks in London, along with the country's president.

"These problems in Somalia don't just affect Somalia. They affect us all. If the rest of us just sit back and look on, we will pay a price for doing so," Cameron said as he opened the conference.

Clinton said the United States would push for sanctions, including travel bans and asset freezes, for those "standing in the way" of progress by the fragile transitional government, the mandate for which expires in August.

She also pledged an extra $64m in humanitarian assistance to the region to help improve the lives of ordinary Somalis, blighted by famine and civil war for the past 21 years.

"We have come together at a critical halfway point," she said.

"For decades, the world has focused on what we could prevent from happening in Somalia - be it conflict, famine, or other disasters. Now we are focused on what we can build. The opportunity is real," she said.

Ban meanwhile urged the world to build on recent progress after the United Nations agreed to boost the African Union peacekeeping force in the country to 17 000, and after Shabaab Islamist rebels were driven from a key town.

"We have opened a space for peace and stability in Somalia. It is a small space but it presents an opportunity we cannot afford to miss," the UN secretary-general said.

In the chaotic Somali capital Mogadishu, residents raised home-made British flags on Thursday in solidarity with the conference.

Two blasts were reported in Baidoa, the town recaptured on Wednesday, but the black flag of the Shabaab was hauled down off a flag pole in the centre of town on Thursday morning.

Despite its recent reverses, the Shabaab remained in defiant mood as it denounced the London conference.

"We will confront and counter, by any means possible, all the outcomes of the London conference," the fighters said in a statement, accusing the meeting's delegates of "prolonging the instability".

The London conference brings together around 40 countries, including the leaders of Ethiopia, Uganda and Kenya, plus organisations such as the African Union and the Arab League.

But there are doubts about whether the delegates will come up with concrete steps for Somalia when the focus is on other troubles, with Syria being discussed on the sidelines.

Somali President Sharif Sheikh Ahmed urged the international community to make good on previous pledges, saying: "We want to know what about all those resolutions and those hopes that remain as mere words on piece of paper."

Kenyan President Mwai Kibaki, whose country sent 4 000 troops into southern Somalia in October to fight the Shabaab, said the Somalian government must be helped to build its own security forces.

But Kibaki added that the conference was an "unprecedented opportunity" after the "remarkable progress in the recent months":

Somalia has had no effective government since 1991 and in recent years the Shabaab rebels and other groups have taken an increasing hold on large parts of the country.

Osama bin Laden's successor Ayman al-Zawahiri announced last week that Shabaab fighters had joined forces with al-Qaeda.

Somalia's chaos has also made it a global centre for piracy in the Gulf of Aden and Indian Ocean, but the international fleet mobilised in 2008 recorded a slight fall in attacks last year against merchant ships.

Famine zones in Somalia declared by the UN last August have been downgraded to emergency status, it was announced earlier this month.

On the political front, the Somali president, the presidents of the breakaway Puntland and Galmudug regions, and the commander of the anti-Shabaab militia Ahlu Sunna Wal Jamaa signed a UN-backed deal on Saturday.

A follow-up summit is already scheduled for June in Istanbul.

Read more on:    al-qaeda  |  al-shabaab  |  mwai kibaki  |  ban ki-moon  |  sharif sheikh ahmed  |  david cameron  |  uk  |  somalia  |  east africa

Read News24’s Comments Policy publishes all comments posted on articles provided that they adhere to our Comments Policy. Should you wish to report a comment for editorial review, please do so by clicking the 'Report Comment' button to the right of each comment.

Comment on this story
Add your comment
Comment 0 characters remaining

Inside News24

When is a mountain more than just a mountain? 2014-12-18 07:26

When it’s an adventure! A group of Old Mutual employees found out how much is enough courage, endurance and camaraderie to take on Africa's highest peak.


13 summer safety tips

Summer time and the burning is easy. Get some great tips to ensure sunburn doesn't spoil your holiday!


I love summer.24

Stay in shape this summer
Ultimate fails compilation 2014
This sleeping bulldog is you during the holidays
This man's reaction to his Christmas present is priceless!

Jobs in Cape Town [change area]

Property [change area]

Travel - Look, Book, Go! - shop online today

Grand Theft Auto 5

Now available on PS4, Xbox One and PC from R649. Buy now!

Festive gifts!

Check out our awesome range of festive gifts to make everyone’s wishes come true. Shop now!

Save on Samsung

Cameras, mobile phones, TVs, Tablets and more. While stocks last. Shop now!

Save up to R2200 on electronics! – As seen in the catalogue

Wishing for tech gadgets this festive? Save up to R2100 on hot tech products at While stocks last. Shop now!

30% off the bestselling books

Save big on the most captivating reads of 2014. While stocks last. Shop now!

OLX Free Classifieds [change area]

Samsung Galaxy s4

Mobile, Cell Phones in South Africa, Western Cape, Cape Town. Date October 24

Best bargain in big bay

Real Estate, Houses - Apartments for Sale in South Africa, Western Cape, Cape Town. Date October 25

VW Golf 6, 1.6 Trendline (Excellent condition)

Vehicles, Cars in South Africa, Western Cape, Cape Town. Date October 25


Short term gratification seems like fun at the time; just remember that your boundaries are down right now and there s a more

There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.


Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.

Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire network.


Location Settings

News24 allows you to edit the display of certain components based on a location. If you wish to personalise the page based on your preferences, please select a location for each component and click "Submit" in order for the changes to take affect.

Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.