Piracy and refugee crisis trigger talks on Somalia
Saturday 18 April 2009
Extra funding to support Somalia's fledgling government is to be discussed at a major conference in Brussels next week.
The efforts to support the Somali administration are intended to fight the surge in piracy off the Horn of Africa and alleviate the country's humanitarian catastrophe. But they coincide with complaints from the UN's refugee agency (UNHCR) that the world's governments are not doing enough.
The UNHCR said it is optimistic that the increased attention on the plight of hundreds of thousands of Somali refugees in the north of Kenya will attract new international funds. The UK has already committed £2m in new funding for the Dadaab facility in north Kenya, near the border with Somalia, now shelter for 267,000 people.
But a UNHCR official says the $10.8m (£7.3m) that has been received for Dadaab this year is "derisory" in comparison with the $92m requested.
Experts agree that there can be no solution to the rampant piracy in Somali waters without a stable government in Mogadishu.
The clearest evidence of the appalling instability inside the country is the exodus to the largest refugee settlement in the world just across the border with Kenya. The dramatic influx of Somalis to the refugee camps at Dadaab was highlighted yesterday in The Independent. Five hundred Somalis are arriving every day at the complex of three overcrowded camps.
While tens of millions of pounds have been spent on multinational naval patrols to protect commercial shipping nearby, less emphasis has been given to political solutions on land.
Next week's joint UN-EU conference is expected to deliver €170m (£150m) in new funding and will bring together the African Union, representatives from the joint EU-US task force patrolling off the Horn of Africa, and the UN secretary general Ban Ki-moon.
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