EU Donors Promise 'New Deal' for Somalia

Wednesday, 18 Sep 2013 06:34 AM

By Joel Himelfarb

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Donors have pledged 1.8 billion euros ($2.4 billion) at a European Union (EU) conference in Brussels to help Somalia end more than two decades of conflict, according to the BBC.
The money is part of a "New Deal" for what is widely regarded as a failed state, EU officials said. Somalian President Hassan Sheik Mohamud said he welcomed the assistance.

"It's a standard deal throughout the world in the post-conflict environment. This is a deal that is based on Somalia-led initiatives," he said.

He said he would target four key priorities: security, legal reform, public finances and economic recovery.

EU Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso said the extra money would support a "new phase in the life of Somalia.”

The EU would give 650 million euros ($872 million), while the rest would come from countries such as Denmark, Germany, Sweden, and Britain, he said.

The EU contribution would be in addition to the $1.6 billion it gave Somalia from 2008 to 2013, most of which was used to finance an 18,000-troop strong African Union (AU) peacekeeping force, the BBC reported.  

British Ambassador to Somalia Neil Wigan called the conference "a major milestone,” and officials said the total funding of more than $2.4 billion is more than double what they were hoping to raise.

"Our combined efforts will maintain momentum and deliver the change that the people of Somalia desperately need," Wigan said.

The jihadist al-Shabab organization, which is fighting to overthrow the Somalian government, said it expected donor pledges would remain mostly unfulfilled or the money would be lost to corruption.
Agence-France Presse quoted al-Shabab as dismissing aid pledges as “hollow promises of Kufr [infidels].”

Al-Shabab has been driven out of large sections of the country by the AU peacekeeping force during the past several years.

There are questions as to the Mogadishu government’s ability to properly manage the aid funds.

In July, the U.N. Monitoring Group on Somalia said the country’s central bank had become a "slush fund" for political leaders and that the current governor played a central role in irregularities surrounding disbursements of cash.

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