On 23rd February, the UK Government will host a conference on Somalia to pull together international effort to address the conflict and humanitarian challenges facing Somalia. Senior representatives from over 40 governments and multi-lateral organisations will come together in London with the aim of delivering a new international approach to Somalia.
On 9th February, a debate was held in the House of Commons ahead of the conference on the future of Somalia and the UK's role. Rushanara Ali, Member of Parliament for Bethnal Green and Bow and Shadow Minister for International Development, spoke during the debate of the challenges facing Somalia and the need for the international community to take action. Bethnal Green and Bow has one of the largest Somali British communities in the UK.
Rushanara Ali spoke of the importance of:
- Addressing the conflict for Somalia and the region as well as our own national interest.
- Addressing the humanitarian situation in Somalia where Al-Shabaab are preventing NGOs from delivering aid to millions of people who are still in need of assistance.
- Involving the British Somali community ahead of the conference. The Somali diaspora contributes around a billion dollars of remittance income and are crucial to contributing to the development of Somalia.
Rushanara Ali said: "Somalia is one of the places that are seen most often through the lens of conflict, famine and humanitarian disaster and as a failed state. Somalia faces many challenges in relation to international terrorism and the threats posed by al-Shabaab, along with the challenges of piracy.
However, I know there is another story, which is often depicted by my constituents from the British Somali community. It is a story of aspiration and of the heritage and history of Somalia before the ongoing conflicts. They do not want Somalia to be portrayed by the current negative images. They want to see peace, reconciliation and development in their country and want to help make a positive contribution.
The February conference is an important development and a chance for the Government to show the international leadership that is vitally needed. It is critical that the Government moves beyond the rhetoric about development and supporting countries facing conflict to ensure they have the appropriate support and assistance to make the transition from being failed and fragile states facing conflict to being more independent, sustainable societies, where our aid effort genuinely can make a difference."