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Continuing Progress In Somalia

Somalia's President Hassan Sheikh Mohamud addresses a news conference at the African Union Headquarters in Addis Ababa, (File photo).

“Emerging from 20 years of conflict will be a long and bumpy road, but Somalia is now heading in the right direction."

Just one year ago, Somalia inaugurated its first permanent government in over two decades. Between August and November 2012, Somalia inaugurated a new Federal Parliament. By the middle of November, the country also had a new President, Prime Minister and Cabinet.

Continuing Progress In Somalia
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“Somalis have worked hard to establish the foundation of their state based on significant efforts to forge a national consensus,” said USAID Assistant Administrator for the Bureau for Democracy, Conflict, and Humanitarian Assistance Nancy Lindborg before the Senate Foreign Relations Subcommittee on African Affairs.

“Emerging from 20 years of conflict will be a long and bumpy road, but Somalia is now heading in the right direction, with the best chance in 20 years to move toward a better future,” she said.

“For Somalia to break free of recurrent violence, stabilization activities must be supported by political actors, civil society members, and a Somali population committed to a comprehensive peace-building process that ensures widespread participation but also emphasizes reconciliation over narrow interests,” said Assistant Administrator Lindborg.

The U.S. government’s goal in Somalia is to increase security and stability, improve economic recovery, and reduce the appeal of extremism while continuing to provide life-saving humanitarian assistance. To achieve these goals, the United States and a number of international development partners have introduced numerous programs to promote stability and community cohesion, and strengthen citizens’ relationships with their government officials.

So for example, Somalia is one of 19 self-identified “conflict affected and fragile states,” working to climb out of protracted conflict with the aid of a framework called the New Deal for Engagement in Fragile States. The New Deal focuses on five key peace-building and state-building goals: legitimate politics, security, justice, economic foundations, and revenues and services. The New Deal hinges on mutual accountability and trust, with international partners providing aid, and the states managing resources more effectively.

It’s a good start. But although the number of people in crisis in Somalia is at its lowest since famine was declared in Somalia in 2011, these gains are fragile and the continuing presence of violent extremist groups underscores ongoing challenges throughout the country.

“Ultimately, the primary architects of what peace, democracy, and development efforts look like must be the Somali people,” said USAID Assistant Administrator Lindborg. “And the United States remains a committed partner.”