Relief SCENE:Drought
Somali PM Blames Al-Shabaab for Famine
Horn of Africa Crisis Summit Begins in Nairobi
By ABDIKAFAR HOSH 09/08/2011
Somali Prime Minister Abdiweli in Nairobi
@Somalia Report
Somali Prime Minister Abdiweli in Nairobi

The two-day Horn of Africa Crisis Summit was officially opened in Nairobi by Kenyan Foreign Minister Mosses Wetangula and Kenya's Deputy Speaker of Parliament Farah Maalim aimed at focusing on the humanitarian crisis in the region as well as the security situation in Somalia.

Somali Prime Minster Dr. Abdiweli Mohamed Ali, representing the Transitional Federal Government (TFG), applauded Kenya for hosting Somali refugees fleeing famine and conflict and spoke at length about the drought in his country.

“Kenya, despite the suffering of her own population, has proven to be a refuge for hundreds of thousands of my countrymen and women fleeing the chaos and anarchy of the last two decades and more recently," said the prime minister.

Dr. Abdiweli confirmed that the crisis ravaging the Horn of Africa needs immediate attention as the famine continues to spread throughout the region.

“The famine has now spread to a sixth region in Somalia, Bay, threatening the lives of over 4 million, or half the country’s population. This tragedy is not, however, confined within our borders but is enveloping the wider region,” he said. “While its effects have been felt hardest inside Somalia, we must remember the millions in Kenya, Ethiopia, Djibouti, Eritrea and Uganda that are also suffering and in need of urgent humanitarian assistance,” he added.

Al-Shabaab to Blame

Dr. Abdiweli accused al-Shabaab, the insurgent group battling for control of Somalia, of being responsible for a variety of extreme crimes including the famine and drought.

“The Al Qaeda affiliated extremist group, al-Shabaab, which is primarily responsible for the famine in Somalia through its polices of systematically looting grain stores, forcible recruitment of and extortion from farmers and their families, and preventing access to the most affected regions in the south to aid agencies," he said.

Drought Recurring More Often

The Somalia PM explained that the summit was discussing ways of tacking the recurring drought in the region.

“In Somalia the droughts we have seen were once in every ten years from 1965 to 1975 to 1987, but recently the situation changes and every two to three years the people are suffering,” he said. “The importance of this summit for my government is to clarify what we can achieve and what we need to get assistance from the international community and humanitarian agencies,” added the PM.

He explained the Disaster Management Agency (DMA) is working with United Nations agencies to reach the southern regions which are under control for the Islamic militants.

"Working with the civil societies and local relief organizations in all the needy regions of the country, the DMA for Somalia will distribute food and humanitarian supplies in the country,” said Dr. Abdiweli.

He added that the TFG has opened camps in the capital and parts of Jubba and Gedo regions to reach the internally displaced people and delivered humanitarian food and nutrition to the women and children.

End of the TFG

The prime minister said the TFG will implement the agreement signed this week to end the transitional government.

“We were able to adopt a Roadmap for ending the transition to permanent, democratic government,” he said.

He stated that Somalia has taken great steps on the roadmap to ensure lasting peace and stability in the country but requested assistance from the global community.

“No nation can do this by itself. Though we are grateful for the support of fellow African countries within the AU and that of the international community at large, more in terms of men and equipment will be required if we are to completely eliminate the extremist threat," the prime minister explained.

He added that the Somali government cannot afford the luxury of allowing al-Qaeda an opportunity to establish a firm presence in the Horn of Africa to plan terror acts to the region.

The summit will last for two days and foreign ministers from regional countries including Kenya, Uganda, Ethiopia, Tanzania, Djibouti, Sudan and South Sudan attended today's meeting.