The new aid programme follows the election in September of a new
Somali president, the culmination of a regionally brokered, UN-backed
effort to restore central government control and end fighting that has
killed tens of thousands of people.
President Hassan Sheikh Mohamud, elected in the first vote of its kind
since Somalia slid into civil war in 1991, is grappling with
corruption, an Islamist insurgency and piracy along the country’s
strategic Indian Ocean shipping route.
“After 21 years, the government is finally rebuilding the systems of a
functional state at local, regional and central levels,” Michele
Cervone d’Urso, the EU’s special envoy to Somalia, told Reuters.
“The EU is more committed to work directly and in partnership with
Somalis. We will ask the implementing agencies to work more closely
with the government and civil society.”
A suicide bombing in the capital Mogadishu on Saturday highlighted the
challenges faced by the new Somali leader.
The development aid package, the largest EU programme ever approved
for Somalia, will go towards strengthening the judiciary, broken state
institutions, the Somali police force and the country’s blighted
Some funds will be used to bring home Somali professionals abroad to
help improve education standards.
In the past, Western and regional states have pumped in millions of
dollars of humanitarian aid to help Somalis affected by conflict and
frequent natural disasters. African governments have sent troops to
combat al-Qaeda-affiliated militants.
Somalia’s residents have complained that most aid organisations have
operated from neighbouring Kenya with little involvement on the
ground, which has bred resentment.
More aid needed
President Mohamud called for more aid, and for assistance to be
channelled directly through the new government.
“Although there is global economic crisis, our new government has been
requesting the world to increase funds and change the ways Somalia has
been getting funds in the last two decades,” Mohamud told a news
conference in Mogadishu after the launch of the aid programme.
“We requested them to have direct a relationship with Somalia.”
Despite being on the back foot, al-Qaeda-linked al Shabaab militants
still control swathes of rural southern and central Somalia. Pirates
and local militia groups are also fighting for control of chunks of