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Statement on a call to promote peace and human security in Somalia

Public statement by the WCC Executive Committee at its meeting held 12-16 September in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.

16 September 2011

1.      Somalia has been undergoing a serious humanitarian crisis for the past several years. The country has been ruled by an ineffective national government for more than twenty years. The most recent Transitional Federal Government (TFG), established in January 2009, remains ineffective and confined only to part of the country and is affected with internal disagreements. The government’s survival is dependent on the troops of the African Union Mission in Somalia – AMISOM. The underlying factors contributing to the vulnerability in the country, which pose serious threats to peace and human security, are poverty, unemployment, conflicts, underdevelopment, famine and drought. More than four million people are affected by conflicts, drought and famine in Somalia with one fifth of the nation’s people displaced and half a million people having fled their homeland in search of basic food support in the neighbouring countries of Kenya and Ethiopia. Food shortage, starvation, malnutrition and massive displacement are exacerbated by insecurity which prevents even aid workers from accessing the worst affected areas. 1.8 million children, of an estimated 2.3 million or more than 70 percent, are not able to attend schools. The TFG is in no position to deal with a humanitarian catastrophe or to protect its citizens as Al-Shabaab and other extremist groups operating in many parts of the country are virtually controlling these areas. At the same time, Al-Shabaab refuses to come to the negotiating table.

2.      The ongoing conflicts in Somalia have been fuelled by various factors including inter-clan rivalry, widespread possession of weapons and external support and funding of miscreants in attempts to abate violence in society. While clan factionalism continues to be a widespread reality, there is a great pool of illegal weapons available in the country. Many young people have grown up in an atmosphere of violence. Lacking opportunities for basic education, and other skills, more and more young people have been easily influenced and manipulated on the promise of quick financial gains by people who seek to mobilize them for political motives. Strategic interests from within and outside Somalia have sought military solutions to the many years of conflict which began with the military coup in the country in 1969. However, it became evident over the years that the military solutions have not resulted in peace in Somalia. The conflicts in Somalia have led to the breakdown of local governments, increasing of criminal actions and the destruction of basic service units such as clinics and schools in many areas. Several parts of Somalia today are experiencing a multi-faceted, chaotic, clan-driven and virtually countrywide revolt against the TFG at the centre.

3.      The drought has caused an additional burden as many families, reliant on livestock, have lost their animals. Several areas of southern Somalia are considered to be in famine conditions and more regions of south Somalia are likely to face famine in the coming months. According to the report of the United Nation’s Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, food access is estimated to be below 2,100 calories per day for at least 20 percent of the population in Somalia. The number of malnourished children across the country continues to rise, and it is estimated by the Somalia Food Security and Nutrition Analysis Unit of the Food and Agricultural Organization that one third of all Somali children face acute malnutrition. The health situation is deteriorating in many places, and cholera and measles are both on the rise.

4.      While the drought situation in the country may be regarded as a short-term phenomenon, the rebuilding of Somalia needs long-term commitment from all parties concerned. The upcoming national election, scheduled by August 2012, and plans for the ratification of a national Constitution, are windows of opportunity to seek a nonviolent solution for Somalia. In this regard, the role of the international community is very significant. A clear road map for development needs to be agreed and supported by the political leadership, the Somalia diaspora and the international community. It is in this context that we see peacekeeping, disarmament, conflict resolution, promotion of nonviolence and dialogue, with the aim of a negotiated political settlement embracing all clan interests, as key to a lasting peace in Somalia. It is high time that all governments and organizations which have been supplying various of the country’s factions with armaments and financial support to rethink their strategies that abet violence in Somalia, and instead evolve a strategy to find more meaningful ways to ensure peace and human security in Somalia. The international community should take initiatives to give opportunities for Somalis to live in peace with justice, security, freedom from fear and hunger, and to have adequate means to live with dignity, develop and determine their own future.

In recognizing the major humanitarian crisis of Somalia and the need for ensuring human security in all parts of this conflict-ridden country, the Executive Committee of the World Council of Churches meeting in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, from 13 to 16 September 2011:

A.      Appeals to the international community and aid agencies to continue to support the immediate emergency needs of the Somali people with adequate funding;

B.      Calls on all actors in Somalia to provide access for humanitarian assistance to all those who have been denied access to food supply;

C.      Calls on governments and organizations which have been responsible for widespread distribution of armaments in Somalia to stop the supplying of armaments to Somalia;

D.     Urges international organizations, especially various United Nations-related bodies, the African Union and the Inter-Governmental Agency for Development (IGAD) to work out a time-bound action plan for disarmament and rehabilitation of youth, demilitarization of Somali society, and promotion of nonviolence, peace and reconciliation;

E.      Urges the international community to assist the TFG in de-centralizing the system of administration by providing delegated authority and resources to allied local administrations and groups;

F.       Encourages the TFG to draw up a comprehensive plan of actions for national reconciliation as a priority by reactivating and reconstituting the moribund Reconciliation Commission with a broader mandate and membership that will include all sectors in society;

G.     Calls on the African Union to develop an appropriate political strategy to accompany the peace and reconciliation mission in Somalia rather than investing resources in increasing the number of AMISOM troops on the ground;

H.     Urges governments and humanitarian aid agencies to take care of the basic needs of all internally displaced people in Somalia, as well as those who have fled their homeland due to hunger and starvation;

I.        Welcomes the initiatives of several WCC member churches in extending support to humanitarian aid to Somalia and invites other churches also to extend support;

J.         Appreciates the efforts of the ACT Alliance and other ecumenical partners to provide humanitarian aid assistance to Somali people;

K.      Calls on WCC member churches to keep the people of Somalia in their prayers.