2015 – A critical year for Somalia [OpEd]
By UK Ambassador to Somalia, Neil Wigan
The start of the year is always a time to reflect on past achievements. Much progress was made in 2014 as Somalia continued on the path to stability. This path was never going to be easy - rebuilding a country that has suffered so much will take the continued efforts of all Somalis. But much has been achieved. The sight of busy streets in Mogadishu, increased trade through Somali ports and increasing security in the regions gives a glimpse of what a stable and prosperous Somalia could look like.
Witnessing the re-emergence of this proud country from the ashes of conflict has been a great honour. The UK stands with you to support these efforts.
As we work together in 2015, there are many challenges to overcome to ensure the fragile gains are made permanent and irreversible. There are still too many children who suffer from malnutrition. Those who use violence are still able to undermine what has been achieved. Respect for human rights does not yet underpin all Somali institutions.
I am optimistic that these challenges can be overcome. In my time leading British support for Somalia, I have repeatedly seen the ingenuity and perseverance of the Somali people. With nearly two-thirds of the population under 25, business minded and with a gift for communication, the modern networked world is perfect for Somalis to make their mark. This is shown by the success of the Somali Diaspora. Absent conflict, this country will flourish.
The appointment of the new Cabinet comes at a critical time as we turn to face these challenges. We will work with the Somali government in their efforts to provide security, stability and services that are essential for people to secure jobs, to start new businesses and to provide for their families.
I am glad that the UK will play a supporting role in Somalia’s future. The links between our two countries remains strong, with a vibrant Somali Diaspora in the UK making a positive contribution in many different fields. It was a proud moment when Her Majesty the Queen honoured Mohammed Farah, formerly a Somali refugee, for winning 2 Olympic gold medals at the London Games. Alongside sporting excellence, Somalis have excelled in business, media and politics. The last few years have now seen many talented individuals return to Somalia in order to help with reconstruction efforts - a sign of the growing belief that Somalia is on the road to stability.
The UK will continue to lead international support for Somali to ensure the gains made become irreversible in this crucial year. As our Prime Minister has said; “now it is time to fulfil the hope for the people of Somalia. That is what they have been living and waiting for, and we must not let them down.”
The road to peace and stability is never an easy one. But Somalia is on its way. Now is the time to turn hope into reality.