S. Africa hosts Somali peace conference
CAPETOWN-A major conference aimed at finding solutions to end the 21-year-old civil war in Somalia started on Wednesday in Cape Town. The two day conference has been organised by the Department of International Relations and Cooperation (DIRCO), in partnership with the Somali Council for Research and Development (SOMCORD) and the African Centre for the Constructive Resolution of Disputes (ACCORD). “Reconciliation, reconstruction and development of Somalia are all critical elements necessary to ensure that durable peace is achieved. The task of responding to this challenge rests on all Somalis, including the Diaspora,” Deputy Minister Marius Fransman said while delivering his keynote address.
He also urged Somalis to stop supporting militant factions, if they want the international community to support them in developing their country. This appeared to make an impact on some of the delegates. “I am impressed by Minister Marius Fransman’s speech and I believe South Africa is determined in helping Somalia achieve peace and stability,” Abdullahi Ali, a delegate at the conference told me afterwards.
Earlier this year, the South African government pledged to assist the war-torn Somalia with capacity building of its civil servants. Speaking to Somali business leaders in March in Bellville-near Cape Town, Fransman revealed that government had allocated R100-million to provide capacity and institution-building to Somali government officials. South Africa also agreed to rekindle diplomatic ties with Somalia which excited the local Somali community.
Ambassador Sayid Sharif Hassan, the current Somali ambassador to South Africa, is also expected address the conference on Wednesday. Other speakers include Dr Sylvester Maphosa of the Africa Institute of South Africa (AISA) who will deliver a paper Titled: African Solutions to Somali Problems. Addulkadir H. Ali of SOMCORD will present a paper on the historical perspective of war and post war in Somalia, while Vanya Gastrow of the African Centre for Migration and Society will deliver a paper on xenophobia and Integration. At the end of the conference on Thursday delegates will launch the South African Somali Diaspora Forum.
South Africa is home to a large Somali community, which mainly operates in the small scale business sector. During the famine which ravaged Somalia in 2011, the South African government donated R8-million to help starving victims. Somalia has been without an effective government since the ouster of Dictator Mohammed Siyad Barre in 1991. Last week Somalia’s parliament elected academic Hassan Sheikh Mohamud as new president. Many analysts believe if the new president is given support, he will be in position to turn the country around. This article was first published on The Voice of the Cape website and later republished else where. ( Report by Hassan Isilow).