New York, US (PANA) - As representatives of more than 50 countries and international organizations gathered in London Thursday for a one-day international conference on Somalia, the US has announced a donation of US$64 million in humanitarian assistance to the Horn of Africa, including Somalia.
US Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton announced the donation in her speech at the conference, at the Lancaster House in London, saying it brings to US$934 million the emergency assistance to the region since 2011, including more than US$211 million
for lifesaving programmes in Somalia.
A statement by the US State Department, obtained by PANA here, quoted her as saying the US welcomes the Security Council’s decision, on Wednesday, to impose an international ban on imports of charcoal from Somalia and urge the international community to begin implementing it immediately.
''The illicit charcoal trade provides funds to al-Shabaab while also causing environmental harm and threatening food security,'' she said, while demanding greater efforts to cut financial support for the al Qaeda-linked al Shabaab militant group, which is battling Somalia's
Transitional Federal Government (TFG).
The US Secretary of State stressed the need for the international community to help strengthen development in Somalia, particularly in areas recently liberated from al-Shabaab, adding: ''Somalis need to see concrete improvements in their lives.''
''For our part, the United States will work with Somali authorities and communities to create jobs, provide health and education services, build capacity, and support peace building and conflict resolution,'' Mrs Clinton said.
On piracy, she said the US was considering development projects in coastal communities to create alternatives to piracy for young men.
The US Secretary of State also expressed support for the regional anti-piracy prosecutions intelligence coordination centre, soon to be launched in the Seychelles, adding: ''We welcome the increased willingness of many of Somalia’s neighbors to incarcerate pirates. And as the UN helps build judicial and prison capacity in Somalia, it is imperative that more nations step forward to jail and prosecute pirates who have been caught seizing commercial vessels that are flagged, owned, and crewed by citizens of their countries.''
Meanwhile, host British Prime Minister David Cameron has warned that failure to end the chaos in Somalia posed a great threat to international security, saying: ''Somalis' problems don't just affect Somalia. They affect us all.''
"In a country where there is no hope, chaos, violence and terrorism thrive. Pirates are disrupting vital trade routes and kidnapping tourists," the British Premier said.
Among the African leaders attending the conference are Presidents Goodluck Jonathan of Nigeria, Mwai Kibaki of Kenya and Pierre Nkurunziza of Burundi, as well as the Prime Minister of Somalia, Abdiwedi Mohammed Ali.
-0- PANA SEG 23Feb2012