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Somalia: Politics and Government

Volume 474: debated on Wednesday 2 April 2008

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what assessment his Department has made of progress on (a) establishing security, (b) establishing the rule of law and (c) improving humanitarian conditions in Somalia since the beginning of 2007; and if he will make a statement. (197134)

The Government continue to work with international partners and the UN to make progress on security, rule of law and improving humanitarian conditions in Somalia.

Security remains of concern. The African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM), established to provide an external security presence, is still building up its deployment. Most recently, the UK has provided funding to assist Burundian troops to deploy and has funded a reconnaissance visit by the Nigerian military ahead of their planned deployment. Increasing the numbers of AMISOM troops will help to improve the security of Mogadishu. However, long-term security will be dependent on a political solution and the establishment of the rule of law.

The UK contributes to the UN Development Programme Rule of Law and Security programme (ROLS) in Somalia. Through the Department for International Development, the UK has committed £6 million to the ROLS programme since 2006. Currently 3,410 Somali police officers have been trained. These officers will form the core of future civilian law enforcement, leading to a more secure environment for all Somalis.

The humanitarian conditions in Somalia remain very difficult. The Prime Minister, Nur Hassan Hussein, has 17 years of humanitarian experience. He has shown himself an effective partner in tackling both the humanitarian issues and political reconciliation in Somalia. We expect this to lead to improved aid community access to those in need. During 2007, the UK committed £8.6 million in additional humanitarian assistance, beyond our annual programme, to respond to the suffering of the people of Somalia.

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what assessment his Department has made of the (a) political and (b) security situation in Somalia since January; and if he will make a statement. (197176)

The Government assess that the political situation in Somalia has improved since January, offering a fresh opportunity for Somalis to make real progress on the issues facing that nation. The appointment of Prime Minister Nur Hassan Hussein and the endorsement of his cabinet in January marked a significant point. Since January the Transitional Federal Government has agreed a package of assistance with the European Union, has drawn up a reconciliation plan for clans in Mogadishu and a timetable for a Constitutional Process and has begun working closely with the UN and the international donor community.

The Government assess that the security situation remains fragile. However, further political progress will lead to long-term improvements in the security situation and allow for further reconciliation and state-building to take place. However, we also recognise that progress on building trust between the parties is likely to take time, since Somalia has experienced much violence and suffering during the past 17 years. We therefore continue to encourage all parties to take responsibility for participating in continuing and constructive dialogue to settle their political differences and to call for an end to the violence.