Somalia’s biggest donor, the EU says that the new President Mohamed Abdullahi Farmajo represents a new breath of air that needs to be fully supported to take Somalia to the next level.
The European Union (EU) Ambassador to Somalia, Veronique Lorenzo, believes that the country’s smooth transition is a big step towards the country’s democratization.
Ms. Lorenzo notes that the new government has raised expectations amongst the public, who will expect the leadership to deliver on basic services such as security, health and protection of human rights.
EU’s engagement in Somalia has intensified over the years, with EU remaining as the largest donor in terms of political engagement as well as financial, technical support and expertise. Since 2008, EU has provided more than €1.2billion to Somalia through various financial sources among them; the Africa Peace Facility – which funds AMISOM, the Global Public Goods and Challenges programme, the European Instruments for Democracy and Human Rights and three Common Security and Defence Policy missions (EUCAP Nestor, EU Naval Force Atalanta and EU training Mission in Somalia).
Somalia, however, still faces multiple challenges. Ms Lorenzo says that insecurity is Somalia’s biggest headache and has a ripple effect on the stabilization efforts spearheaded by the EU.
“The relationship between security and poverty needs to be acknowledged because economic stability cannot be sustained in an insecure or volatile environment. Security needs to be accompanied by improved governance, the provision of basic services and livelihood opportunities,” Ms Lorenzo said.
The ongoing drought is another imminent challenge already affecting over 5 million people in Somalia. The EU is responding to the famine through Somalis’ humanitarian arm European Civil Protection and Humanitarian Aid Operations ECHO. ECHO has allocated more than €33 million to life-saving interventions. Their support is further complemented by EUs development aid programme, in particular from our support to resilience, durable solutions and economic development (around €78 million EUR) that have specific actions addressing drought’s effect. This is being done through increasing and improving water access points and direct cash payments.
Ms. Lorenzo, however, says that Somalia needs to gradually be able to support and sustain its recovery with its own resources. In this regard, the country needs to put in place strong economic governance structures to manage resources effectively and to curb corruption.
“The relationship between security and poverty needs also to be acknowledged because economic stability cannot be sustained in an insecure or volatile environment. Security needs to be accompanied by improved governance, the provision of basic services and livelihood opportunities,”Veronique Lorenzo, The EU Ambassador to Somalia.
Secondly, Somalia needs to work cohesively on the political track.
“The centre piece of this work is that there needs to be agreement and understanding on the competencies and roles of the different political actors and structures, especially the functioning of the federal state’” said the ambassador.
Ms Lorenzo says the EU remains committed to AMISOM and will continue to work with all other partners including in efforts to professionalising the Somalia National Army (SNA) because the African peacekeeper will ultimately leave.
The EU believes that the Somalia security forces must be able to stand alone and protect their country, which is also among the top priorities for the new government of President Farmajo
The EU also pays stipends to 680 Somalia Police Forces, besides the EU Training Mission’s involvement in training the Somalia army. The EU marine and security missions—the EUCAP Nestor and EUNAVFOR—are also training Somalia marine forces as well as providing support in securing Somali waters against piracy and other illegal fishing activities.
Among the EU successes in Somalia due to its financial support and expertise include; the increased growth of public authority and administrations at national and regional level.
Secondly, the EU together with other international friends of Somalia are pushing for reforms in Somalia and have just helped the country successfully hold a peaceful election and a smooth transition of power to the newly elected leadership.
Thirdly, the EU is associated with improving economy and spaces to conduct business, burgeoning number of school going children and improved education facilities, strengthening the livestock sector and more importantly the opening up of Somalia to international investment and international financial institutions.
“Our support is shifting from facilitating security to restoring and maintaining an internal Somali security and justice capacity; from state formation to state building; from humanitarian support to improving public service provision and resilience building,” said Ms Lorenzo.
The EU’s future support is focused on the Somalia government’s capacity on countering the impact of the drought, given that the country is currently affected by a dire humanitarian situation and threatened by famine.
On the political front, the EU is looking forward to the formation of a government and to engage with the government on security reforms, on reconciliation, sound management of public finances and the completion of constitutional review. The constitutional review needs a strong political commitment to advance. The key challenge in the constitutional review will be how the newly created federal units will work with the centre in terms of resources and key political decisions affecting the lives of the people, such as security.
On Al-Shabaab, which remains a threat because it is an ideological movement that spreads its beliefs through violence, and also fills a vacuum where the state is absent, Ms Lorenzo says this explains why it’s taking long for the group to be routed out and peace to be fully restored in Somalia.
“Such a wrong ideology cannot be defeated through a security approach only. It also needs a strong state that delivers services to the people, the rule of law and the unity of the country to counter extremist ideologies that are at odds with Islamic and Somali values,” she said.