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Somalia: Bonino, “progress” toward a “new deal”

The international community has pledged 2.8 billion euro – 650 million from the EU alone – for the political and social reconstruction of civil war-torn Somalia. As Minister Emma Bonino announced, Italy will take part in these efforts with a contribution of 9 million in 2013, which is to be summed with the Italian Cooperation’s concrete and significant presence in that country. This financial commitment is the most concrete result of the high level conference “For a New Deal in Somalia” organised by the European Union in Brussels, where the 28 Union countries sat around a table with representatives of the world’s larger economies (US, China,Russia and Japan, with the addition of many of the Gulf countries, but not Saudi Arabia) and major international institutions (UN, IMF, African Union, OECD and the World Bank).


Minister Bonino, who participated in the conference, did not conceal the difficulties, although she did underscore the “progress” made at the Brussels Conference. “The situation”, she said, “is better than a year ago, but we must acknowledge progress without pretending not to know that there are still a lot of problems”. The main challenge is to rebuild, practically from nothing, an entire State apparatus founded on the rule of law and recognition of human rights, beginning with those of women. The head of Italian diplomacy defined as “essential” the political progress achieved by the central government and the local authorities, which is considered an undeniable prerequisite for the country’s stability and for projects aimed at rebuilding economic development institutions.


Minister Bonino called the agreement signed in recent days between the Somali Federal Government of Mogadishu and the independent administration of Juba led by Ahmed Madobe “a major step forward”, which should be followed by similar agreements with the other Somali provinces. The minister then pointed out that security is still a weak point and must be a primary goal of the political process. She also underscored as “crucial” respect for fundamental rights, along with the rights of women – including their right to an education. Bonino stressed implementation of the agreements: Italy is to join Ethiopia in co-chairing the 26 September IGAD session at the United Nations, and in the coming days the President of Somalia will be in Rome to discuss the developments of the coming months in detail.


Presence of the Italian Cooperation


The Italian Cooperation’s Somalia strategy has thus far been based on a three-pronged approach: support for the population (through high-impact emergency programmes, such as in healthcare); support for federal governmental institutions through capacity building programmes and reconstruction; and advocacy and involvement of the international community (at the level of individual donors as well as of the EU and international organizations). This strategy is directed at making a concrete transition from emergency intervention to medium-term development.


Solid ties


The ties between the civil societies of Italy and Somalia remain solid, thanks not least to remittances from the diaspora and to its firmly-rooted presence in Italy. While in many cases not the recipients of direct Cooperation contributions, the presence of Italian NGOs – CESVI, CISP, INTERSOS, CEFA, COOPI, Emergency, Persone come Noi (operative in Hargeisa) – is important and continuous. Particularly significant is their presence in the sectors of healthcare, humanitarian aid and women’s advocacy, along with culture and university-related initiatives. The Universities of Rome Tre and Sapienza-Cirps collaborate with the DGCS on educational/cultural programmes using web platforms. Local agencies active over the last decade have included the provincial administration of Trent, with a basic vocational training project.



Development and private sector recovery


Somalia’s reconstruction and long-term economic recovery also depend on recovery in the private sector, which could be fortified by donor aid and subsidies from the diaspora, particularly in the herding and fishing sectors. Stability was foregrounded as a prerequisite for the majority of sustainable infrastructure investments (electrical grid, roads and aqueducts).


Priority intervention sectors and expected results


The Italian Cooperation-funded interventions in Somalia in 2012 numbered 20, for a total investment of approximately 25 million euro, of which 19 million was disbursed in 2012. Italy’s commitment is wide-ranging and covers various sectors, such as emergency coordination, malnutrition and food safety, demining and assistance to displaced persons, with a growing component dedicated to reconstruction (healthcare and economic development). The Italian Cooperation has established several priority sectors and actions that were already being given impetus by the first months of 2013. The Somali authorities were, first of all, informed of a willingness to consider support for the State budget; in that context, preparations for a training course are under way in Italy, to be run by the “E. Vanoni” Advanced School of Economics and Finance and aimed at capacity-building in State budget drafting, management, supervision and control, with the possibility of eventual cooperation in the judiciary sector.


Healthcare


One of the initiatives is focused on the rehabilitation of the Mogadishu, Somaliland and Puntland hospitals, and another on the airports of Garowe and Bossaso, efforts that have given incentive to the collaboration of Italian NGOs operating there on the ground.


Finally, Somalia will be able to benefit from funds earmarked by the International Missions Bill amounting to 4 million euro for 2013, which will be applied to multilateral interventions. Of these funds, 500,000 euro has already been assigned to OCHA through emergency channels for continuous humanitarian monitoring, advocacy and coordination. Two additional contributions already approved by the Steering Committee of 29 June last are earmarked for the UNHCR (800,000 euro) for assistance and support for the re-entry of IDPs, and to FAO (1 million) for a capacity-building programme aimed at supporting the creation of a licensing authority for fishing in Somali waters.

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