Oxfam International Blogs - London Somalia Conference http://l.blogs.oxfam/en/tags/london-somalia-conference en Somalia 2013 Conference: "You can’t wash your face using only one finger" http://l.blogs.oxfam/en/blogs/13-05-07-somalia-2013-conference-you-cant-wash-your-face-using-only-one-finger <div class="field field-name-body"><p><strong>Last week the UN revealed for the first time that more than a quarter of a million people died in Somalia over 18 months from October 2010-April 2012.</strong> These figures are shockingly high especially when you think about the fact that most of the deaths were probably preventable if the world had just reacted sooner to the warnings that were coming out of the region as the rains started to fail in 2010.</p> <p>Famine is not a natural phenomenon. Drought is, and in Somalia rain failures were exacerbated by ongoing conflict. But as we showed in our <strong><a href="http://www.oxfam.org/en/policy/dangerous-delay" target="_blank" rel="nofollow">Dangerous Delay</a></strong> report following the famine, if countries, aid agencies and the UN system had reacted sooner, the death toll would have been much less.</p> <p>This is a stark reminder to world leaders meeting in London to talk about Somalia today that action is needed to help Somalis deal with the shocks that they face.</p> <p>This means the International community and the Somali authorities must invest in long-term development. This involves “washing the face with the whole hand”*. We should be helping Somalis to rehabilitate <strong><a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/oxfam/8717239392/in/set-72157633424469165/" target="_blank" title=" A woman is carrying an Oxfam bucket" rel="nofollow">water sources</a></strong> and rebuild roads. We should be supporting farmers to increase the reliability of their yields and <strong><a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/oxfam/8717239214/in/set-72157633424469165/" target="_blank" title=" Agro-pastoralist communities in Somalia" rel="nofollow">pastoralists</a></strong> improve the health of their animals. We should be supporting <strong><a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/oxfam/8717239056/in/set-72157633424469165/" target="_blank" title="A young girl at the market in Hargeisa, Somaliland" rel="nofollow">small scale businesses</a></strong>, such as <strong><a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/oxfam/8717239312/in/set-72157633424469165/" target="_blank" title=" Market in Hargeisa, Somaliland" rel="nofollow">women milk sellers</a></strong>, and create a police force that protects people from crime. The Somali Federal Government should show it is serious about combating rape and sexual violence by investigating all rape accusations and making sure women have access to justice.</p> <p>It is crucial that women and men from across Somalia are involved in a bottom up process to determine the country's future. Top down "solutions" don't work. The country is crying out for just and sustainable peace, and the new Government must grab this moment to secure it.</p> <p>Meanwhile Oxfam has produced an exhibition of photos from across Somalia, highlighting Somalia’s rich culture and history – take a look at <strong><a href="http://www.oxfam.org/en/development/somalia/different-perspective-photos" target="_blank" title=" a different perspective" rel="nofollow">Somalia: A different perspective</a></strong>.</p> <p><em>*“You can’t wash your face using only one finger” ("Far kaliya fool madhaqdo") is a common Somali proverb.</em>  </p></div><div class="field field-name-title"><h2>Somalia 2013 Conference: &quot;You can’t wash your face using only one finger&quot; </h2></div><ul class="links inline"><li class="translation_fr first last"><a href="http://l.blogs.oxfam/fr/blogs/13-05-07-conference-londres-somalie-peut-pas-laver-visage-avec-seul-doigt" title="Conférence de Londres sur la Somalie : &quot;On ne peut pas se laver le visage avec un seul doigt&quot;" class="translation-link" xml:lang="fr">Français</a></li> </ul> Tue, 07 May 2013 12:47:59 +0000 Ed Pomfret 10308 at http://l.blogs.oxfam http://l.blogs.oxfam/en/blogs/13-05-07-somalia-2013-conference-you-cant-wash-your-face-using-only-one-finger#comments The London Somalia Conference: In whose interests? http://l.blogs.oxfam/en/blog/12-02-23-london-somalia-conference-whose-interests <div class="field field-name-body"><p><strong>Today in London, 40 governments from around the world, the UN, African Union and others will gather to discuss Somalia.</strong>  According to the UK, the <a href="http://www.fco.gov.uk/en/global-issues/london-conference-somalia/" rel="nofollow"><strong>London Somalia Conference</strong></a> will chart “a new international approach to Somalia” on areas ranging from security and the political process to the humanitarian effort. Given that the country has been racked by conflict, state collapse, and poor governance for decades, and is only now precariously pulling itself out from the worst food crisis the world has seen this century, this effort to change course is welcome, overdue even.</p> <p>But this isn’t the first international conference on Somalia, and judging by the statements of UK Prime Minister David Cameron, it is in danger of repeating previous mistakes. Fundamentally, the success of any shift in approach will depend upon whose interests are put first – those of the international community that will be assembled, or those of ordinary Somalis. Yet most of the talk so far has been about piracy, security or terrorism, rather than efforts to support long-term peace or food security.</p> <h3>Untangling political and humanitarian agendas</h3> <p>People are dying in Somalia because of restrictions on aid agencies, diversions and insecurity. There must be a concerted diplomatic push by those gathered – western governments, Somali politicians, the Gulf states, anyone with influence – to ensure that those who need assistance can access it. But they must go beyond this. While the issues related to access and assistance are primarily the fault and responsibility of the warring factions in the country, it is made worse by<a href="https://www.oxfam.org/en/pressroom/pressrelease/2012-02-22/oxfam-calls-end-conflicting-international-policies-somalia" rel="nofollow"><strong> contradictory policies</strong></a> of major donor which fuse the aid and political agendas.</p> <p>The blurring of boundaries between counter terrorist/ security strategies and humanitarian agenda, endangers aid workers and aid supplies and makes it harder for people in need to access assistance. This is particularly disappointing given the response of these same donors to Somalia’s food crisis in 2011 was <a href="http://www.oxfam.org/en/policy/dangerous-delay" rel="nofollow"><strong>even if late</strong></a>, generous and swift. In light of such hard economic times for western countries in particular, this willingness to reach out to help those who were in danger of slipping through humanity’s safety nets was brave and welcome.</p> <h3>Ensuring accountability</h3> <p>New military escalation in Somalia risks harming civilians and undermining efforts to recover from famine. Just last week the AU military force (AMISOM) and the Transitional Federal Government (TFG) launched a <a href="https://www.oxfam.org/en/pressroom/pressrelease/2012-02-17/new-somalia-fighting-forces-thousands-civilians-flee" rel="nofollow"><strong>major new offensive</strong></a> in an area where 400,000 people are living in densely populated camps. Ongoing fighting has forced thousands of people to flee already this year. There must be stringent accountability and oversight measures to prevent human rights abuses and violations of the laws of war by all parties to the conflict. Those attending the conference have the power and ability to make this happen for at least some of the forces fighting in the country.</p> <h3>Taking the long view: putting the interests of Somalis first</h3> <p>In Oxfam’s new report – <a href="https://www.oxfam.org/sites/www.oxfam.org/files/bn-shift-focus-somali-people-first-220212-en.pdf" rel="nofollow"><strong>A Shift In Focus: Putting the interests of Somali people first</strong></a> – we accept that ensuring communities can access immediate assistance, or encouraging the TFG and AMISOM to pay greater attention to avoiding harm to civilians, is no substitute for a longer term solution.  As the Somali saying goes “the best bed a man can sleep on is peace”, so how can the conference chart a new international approach to this end?</p> <p>Pretending that the Transitional Federal Government controls or is likely to control the whole of Somalia, never mind that it represents the views of all Somalis, is clearly not a credible approach. And if past experience in Somalia is anything to go by, interventions by regional governments are also very unlikely to lead to peace and stability.</p> <p>Rather, the international community must prioritise non-militarised and sustainable solutions to the conflict and humanitarian crisis, in particular through ensuring that a wide section of the Somali population is engaged in the process of developing these solutions.  This means properly involving civil society, not window dressing and ticking boxes, and building on successful Somali-led efforts, which have been inclusive of grassroots civil society and women in particular, to bring about peace and stability.  It also, critically, means encouraging dialogue with everyone – and that means everyone, including moderate elements of armed groups.</p> <p>Similarly, although <a href="http://blogs.oxfam.org/en/blog/12-02-21-somalia-much-more-just-terrorism-and-piracy"><strong>piracy</strong></a> will preoccupy the minds of many of the delegates at the conference, they must realise that piracy in Somalia is a symptom of years of poverty and insecurity. But piracy  - the oldest international crime and one that all nations have an obligation to act against – will not be stopped by purely punitive measures. It will continue to be an attractive and lucrative option until an inclusive political solution in Somalia is reached and the country is set on the path to development.</p> <p>Today’s London conference is at serious risk of prescribing more of the same for Somalia. And this means the outcome will be more of the same: civil strife, piracy and regional insecurity. More importantly the Somali people will continue to be engulfed in a humanitarian tragedy, and the international community will increasingly find it difficult to treat the symptoms, never mind find a cure.</p> <h3>Read more</h3> <p><strong>Press release: <a href="https://www.oxfam.org/en/pressroom/pressrelease/2012-02-22/oxfam-calls-end-conflicting-international-policies-somalia" rel="nofollow">Oxfam calls for an end to conflicting international policies on Somalia</a></strong></p> <p><strong>Download the report: <a href="https://www.oxfam.org/en/policy/shift-focus-somalia" rel="nofollow">A Shift in Focus: Putting the interests of Somali people first</a></strong></p> <p><strong>Read more on the <a href="https://www.oxfam.org/en/emergencies/somalia-conflict" rel="nofollow">Drought and Conflict in Somalia</a></strong></p></div><div class="field field-name-title"><h2>The London Somalia Conference: In whose interests?</h2></div> Thu, 23 Feb 2012 07:00:34 +0000 Daniel Gorevan 9762 at http://l.blogs.oxfam http://l.blogs.oxfam/en/blog/12-02-23-london-somalia-conference-whose-interests#comments Somalia is much more than just terrorism and piracy http://l.blogs.oxfam/en/blog/12-02-21-somalia-much-more-just-terrorism-and-piracy <div class="field field-name-body"><p><strong>On 23 February heads of state, officials and Ban Ki-moon will meet in London to discuss the security threats posed by Somalia and the future of its Government.</strong>  </p> <p>Although the causes of the problems Somalia faces lies primarily in the country itself, where warring factions are accused of impeding and diverting aid flows, policies of other countries have also had a major impact. These policies focused more on international security concerns than on the needs, interests and wishes of the Somali people have inadvertently fuelled both the conflict and the humanitarian crisis.</p> <p>You may remember seeing<a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/oxfam/sets/72157627184715906/" rel="nofollow"><strong> the pictures</strong> </a>as people in Somalia tried to deal with the worst food crisis the country has faced for years. Although the images have left our screens largely, the bare numbers from the crisis reveal starkly what Somalis have faced. Tens of thousands of people have died over the last few months. 2.4 million people are <a href="https://www.oxfam.org/en/pressroom/reactions/oxfam-reaction-fsnau-announcement-famine-status-somalia-has-ended" rel="nofollow"><strong>still in need of urgent</strong></a> aid while 325,000 children are still suffering from acute malnutrition.</p> <h3>The London Somalia Conference</h3> <p>International concern about Somalia is not new: the country has not had a functioning national government for two decades. Somalis have tried various ways to organize the country. But sadly these efforts have been overshadowed by conflict and power struggles in the country, in which the interests of most Somalis have been ignored. Participants at the <a href="http://www.fco.gov.uk/en/global-issues/london-conference-somalia/" rel="nofollow"><strong>London Somalia conference</strong></a> want to discuss a long list of issues: security, political process, local stability, counter-terrorism, piracy, humanitarian issues, and international coordination.</p> <p>Unfortunately, in discussing these problems ministers and officials are falling into the same trap that they have for decades – ignoring the voices of the Somali people. Somalia is much more than just terrorism and piracy.</p> <h3>What the Somali people want</h3> <p>Somalis we speak with tell us they want to go about their daily lives, free from the brutal disruption of war and famine, where they could earn a secure income to afford to feed their families everyday and send their children to school. They’re asking the international community to prioritize meeting the basic needs of Somalis immediately, so that they can recover their lives and dignity and build their country back from two decades of conflict.</p> <p>As the international community is already intent on continuing to intervene, they should at least listen to what Somalis’ priorities are. Hadija*, 50, from Galgadud region, for example says they “should help the jobless youth and generate employment and vocational skills training in order to dissuade the youth from joining the criminal activities. We need support to strengthen local and community-owned administrations, and help us to build schools and hospitals. What Somalis need is to bring sustainable peace and security, allowing women and children to live without fear.”</p> <h3>A shift in focus is needed</h3> <p>In a new report - <a href="https://www.oxfam.org/en/policy/shift-focus-somalia" rel="nofollow"><strong>A Shift in Focus: Putting the interests of Somalis first</strong></a> - Oxfam sets out an agenda for the conference which shifts the emphasis away from security concerns and takes practical steps towards an inclusive political solution to the conflict and crisis. </p> <p>Firstly the conference must recognize that <strong>Somalia is still facing a catastrophic humanitarian emergency</strong> with millions people in need of urgent aid. While drought conditions are improving in some parts of the country, renewed fighting continues to force people to flee their homes and farms to neighbouring countries or other parts of the country. The world’s attention must not turn away from this humanitarian crisis.</p> <p>The international community also needs to address the fact that the<strong> lines have blurred between humanitarian and military intervention</strong>, compromising the independence of aid agencies to deliver vital aid to those who need it most. We need a renewed international drive to allow unrestricted, independent humanitarian access to those who need lifesaving aid and support to rebuild their lives. </p> <p>A new approach to Somalia is urgently needed. Somali women and men are asking for a greater say in efforts to bring about peace and security in their country. After more than 20 years of outside intervention that has failed to resolve the conflict,<strong> the international community must support a peace process that includes Somalis</strong> <strong>and reflects their needs, interests and wishes</strong>. The world’s response to terrorism must not make things worse for Somalis trying to live a normal life. More conflict will not solve conflict.  </p> <p>There will be no lasting solution to Somalia’s problems unless it is owned by the Somali people. Decades of international interference focused primarily on security and counter terrorism concerns have inadvertently fuelled instability and increased humanitarian needs. The international community can play a positive role, but it must support Somali-led solutions putting the interests of Somalis first.</p> <p>* Not her real name</p> <p><strong>Download the report: <a href="https://www.oxfam.org/en/policy/shift-focus-somalia" rel="nofollow">A Shift in Focus: Putting the interests of Somali people first</a></strong></p> <p><strong>Read more on the <a href="https://www.oxfam.org/en/emergencies/somalia-conflict" rel="nofollow">Drought and Conflict in Somalia</a></strong></p> <p><em>Follow Ed Pomfret on twitter <a href="http:/twitter.com/EdPomfret" target="_blank" rel="nofollow">@EdPomfret</a></em>.</p></div><div class="field field-name-title"><h2>Somalia is much more than just terrorism and piracy</h2></div><ul class="links inline"><li class="translation_es first"><a href="http://l.blogs.oxfam/es/blog/12-02-22-somalia-es-mucho-mas-que-terrorismo-y-pirateri" title="Somalia es mucho más que terrorismo y piratería" class="translation-link" xml:lang="es">Español</a></li> <li class="translation_fr last"><a href="http://l.blogs.oxfam/fr/blog/12-02-22-somalie-resume-pas-terrorisme-piraterie" title="La Somalie ne se résume pas au terrorisme et à la piraterie" class="translation-link" xml:lang="fr">Français</a></li> </ul> Tue, 21 Feb 2012 17:54:13 +0000 Ed Pomfret 9760 at http://l.blogs.oxfam http://l.blogs.oxfam/en/blog/12-02-21-somalia-much-more-just-terrorism-and-piracy#comments