Gabriel in Somalia: The international community must not look the other way

02.05.2017 - Article

Yesterday (1 May), Sigmar Gabriel became the first German Foreign Minister to travel to Somalia. Terrorism, tribal conflict and the threat of famine means that the country is facing enormous challenges. Foreign Minister Gabriel wants to act together with the international community to prevent an imminent disaster.

Foreign Minister Gabriel met with Somali Prime Minister Hassan Ali Khaire.
Foreign Minister Gabriel met with Somali Prime Minister Hassan Ali Khaire.© Inga Kjer/photothek.de

On Monday, Foreign Minister Gabriel became the first German politician in several decades to visit Somalia. Gabriel’s visit took him to the capital Mogadishu and to a refugee camp near Baidoa in the south-west of the country. Somalia has been wracked by decades of civil war and terrorism and is considered one of the most dangerous countries in the world.

Appeal to the international community

Gabriel visited the Hilaac refugee camp and got a first-hand impression of the disastrous situation on the ground.
Gabriel visited the Hilaac refugee camp and got a first-hand impression of the disastrous situation on the ground.© Inga Kjer/photothek.de

Long periods of drought and drawn-out violent conflicts have again brought the threat of famine to the Horn of Africa. For weeks now, Germany has been working to mobilise international aid. Foreign Minister Gabriel and Development Minister Müller have issued an appeal to the international community with the Berlin Humanitarian Call, urging that action be taken before time runs out.

Germany doubles its aid

Gabriel has gained a first-hand impression of the situation on the ground. Somalia is particularly affected by the threat of famine. More than six million people in the country are already now facing shortages. In Mogadishu, Gabriel met with representatives of the International Committee of the Red Cross and the United Nations to discuss how humanitarian aid in the fight against hunger can be improved. Gabriel also visited a refugee camp in the south-west of the country, where tens of thousands of families live in makeshift shelters. There is no medical care. “The situation here is disastrous,” Gabriel said, “what we urgently need is more international aid.” Germany will double its aid for Somalia, which currently stands at 70 million euros.

Somalia faces many other threats besides hunger. Rebuilding the country is still being hampered by the violence and terror perpetrated throughout the country by the Islamist Al-Shabaab militias. The government controls only some parts of the national territory. Numerous clans have laid claim to various parts of the country and are engaged in violent tribal conflicts.

Help for nation-building

Germany is doing a great deal to help stabilise the country. To enable long-term peace, the Federal Foreign Office is funding a project in Somalia to build a federal state structure. Together with the United Nations and the European Union, the Federal Armed Forces are helping to train Somali military personnel and police officers. Germany also provides support for conflict resolution and reconciliation projects. In Baidao, Gabriel visited a rehabilitation centre for former Al-Shabaab fighters that is co-financed by Germany and that aims to help them to return to a peaceful civilian life.

Find out more:

Berlin Humanitarian Call - Standing Together Against Famine (Artilel by Foreign Minister Sigmar Gabriel, published 12 April 2017)

Somlia country profile

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