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Cameron Pledges Solidarity With Somalia On Opening Of Donor Conference

posted 7 May 2013, 08:08 by Sam Mbale   [ updated 7 May 2013, 08:09 ]

Governments must unite around Somalia to help defeat Islamic extremism which threatens the world, Cameron tells donor conference in London.

 LONDON, ENGLAND, UK (MAY 7, 2013) (INTERNATIONAL POOL) -  British Prime Minister David Cameron on Tuesday (May 7) pledged solidarity with Somalia and urged other nations to join him, as he opened a donor conference in London that will seek pledges to rebuild the East African country torn apart by two decades of civil war.

The one day conference is aimed at bolstering stability in Somalia, raising pledges of aid and signalling international support for Somalia's new president, who was elected last year.

The vote was the first of its kind since toppling of military dictator Mohamed Siad Barre in 1991, which had left Somalia at the mercy of warlords and later radical Islamists, while its coasts became notorious as a haven for pirates.

Cameron told the conference, which is being co-hosted with Somali PresidentHassan Sheikh Mohamud, that the world has a vested interest in making sureSomalia becomes stable.

"Now these challenges are not just issues for Somalia, they matter for Britain too and for the whole international community. Why? Because when young minds are poisoned by radicalism and they go on to support terrorism and extremism, the security of the whole world, including people here in Britain is at stake," he said.

While security has improved in Mogadishu, on Sunday a suicide bomber attacked a convoy carrying Qatari officials, killing at least eight Somalis.

The attack was claimed by the al Qaeda-linked Islamist rebel group al Shabaab, which wants to impose their version of Islamic law, but has been pushed out of bases in the capital and other major towns by African peacekeepers.

Cameron said by fighting poverty in Somalia it will prevent young people from joining al Shabaab.

Britain has pledged 24.5 million pounds to help train Somali security forces, police and judges.

Mohamud appealed for the world to help Somalia with aid and development.

"We need support, we need assistance and investment and we need protection from those who try to knock us over," he said.

"Progress has defied the sceptics. Somalia has rejoined the world of communities. Under my leadership we will offer the world a legitimate partner you can trust." he added.

A draft of the final communiqué for the London conference seen by Reuters said the meeting was taking place at a "pivotal" moment for Somalia, and calls on the international community to "consolidate progress quickly".

Somali officials are expected to outline plans for Somalia's security forces, justice sector and other institutions, and agree with global partners on how they can back those plans.

New donors are to be encouraged to come forward at the conference, to which more than 50 countries and organisations have been invited, and existing donors will be called on to honour earlier pledges.

Concerns remain over corruption, however, and while the draft communiqué recognises the "urgent need" for financial support, it underscores the need for the government to demonstrate financial accountability and transparency.

Somalia's humanitarian needs are still huge, and U.N. bodies estimate aid requirements will cost $1.33 billion this year, an increase on last year due to improved access to deprived areas.