Canada’s Foreign Affairs Minister John Baird told the London Conference on Somalia Thursday that international efforts to help the impoverished nation require alliances working to provide services to Somalis and push forward accountable government.
But he also called out those working against those objectives.
“In particular, Canada wants to condemn in the strongest terms the actions of the terrorist group Al Shabaab, including the suicide bombings and car bombings that have claimed the lives of many Somalis, and the deliberate and despicable refusal to allow delivery of humanitarian assistance to those Somalis affected by drought in areas under the group’s control.”
“We appreciate the contribution made by the African Union and individual African countries to fight those who would instill fear and would block efforts to distribute food, to improve food security, to provide medical help and to vaccinate children.”
Canada was encouraged by military efforts that pushed Al Shabaab out of Mogadishu and other areas in south-central Somalia.
“There is a sense of urgency to complete work by the end of August to secure gains and to advance representative government. Progress has been made to craft a constitution that sets out a framework with both representation and responsibility,” he said.
The future of the country will depend largely on choosing able leaders and future support of the international community, he said.
Baird noted Canada’s $1 million commitment to the United Nations Trust Fund for the African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM).
Canada would work with the Netherlands to redeploy a formed police unit from Uganda to Somalia rather than Darfur to assist the AMISOM.
“We also stand ready to explore further cooperation with governments and civil society to reinforce partnerships for stabilization and recovery and to counter terrorism, including through the Global Counter Terrorism Forum,” he said.
Baird said 170,000 Somali Canadians and other Canadians wanted to see peace in the country and have donated $70.5 million to Canadian-registered charities working in the region, a contribution matched by the Canadian government through the East Africa Drought Relief Fund.