Effective change must begin with the Somali youth, according to an official of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation
Posted by African Press International on October 1, 2011
NAIROBI, – Non-traditional humanitarian actors must work with the UN and other relief agencies for Somalia to move from relief to recovery, urged officials of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC).
“Somalia has been moving from relief to relief without much progress; consequently, we have created a large relief-dependent population in the country,” Atta al Manane, the OIC assistant secretary-general and head of humanitarian affairs, told a conference on Somalia’s recovery process.
“For effective change, we must begin with the Somali youth, who currently have no future at all; we have a generation of 18 to 25-year-olds who think Somalia’s future is in the hands of those with arms and that to live you have to kill.
“Somalia has been forgotten for a long time; when you talk about Somalia, people say: ‘Somalis don’t need assistance, they need only peace!’. But now [with the famine] there is a new trend, a lot of money is being poured into the country, we must use this opportunity to bring about change,” Manane said. “The current situation demands that we work in such a way as to bring real change by initiating development projects that can change people’s lives.
“After 20 years of pouring money into Somalia we find ourselves confronted by famine. Can we speak about development while there is a war? Humanitarians can provide the answer.”
He said Muslim organizations were doing a huge job in Somalia but they needed more capacity, funding and training.
Hany el Banna, chairman of the Humanitarian Forum, which hosted the 26-27 September conference with the OIC, said recovery in Somalia was now a “compulsory duty” for humanitarian actors, who should spend significant amounts of their funding on building capacity in local Somali organizations.
“We should focus on activity that will empower the youth and find ways of accommodating this growing population,” Banna said. “We are here to engage in finding the roadmap to Somalia’s recovery.”
|Any plan of action must put women at the forefront, said Hilal Bouh, an administrator at Al-Hayatt Medical centre in Borama (file photo)|
Officials representing 70 humanitarian organizations – ranging from UN agencies, the Red Cross/Crescent movement, Islamic and western international NGOs as well as Somali NGOs – attended the conference.
Emphasis on women
Hilal Bouh, an administrator at Al-Hayatt Medical centre in Borama, Somaliland, said: “Any plan [of action] should put Somali women at the forefront. Today in Somali society, women have assumed far greater responsibility than they ever had. They are the breadwinners, care-givers, in addition to their duties as mothers.”
She said there should be more women in decision-making bodies, be they political or social.
Bouh said Somali girls were not being educated as well as boys, despite the fact that many families depended on the support of girls in the diaspora. “If a family can afford to send one or two children to school, they will usually send the boys, so educating the girl child should be a priority for all of us.”
On 24 September, at a mini-summit in New York on the Horn of Africa drought crisis, the President of the General Assembly, Nassir Abdulaziz Al-Nasser, commended regional initiatives by the African Union, the OIC and others, stressing that “effectiveness will depend on the ability of people to work together”.
At least 13 million people have been hit by drought and famine in Djibouti, Ethiopia, Kenya and Somalia, according to the UN.
More than US$218 million of new aid was pledged by Norway, Republic of Korea, Australia, Switzerland, Japan, Ireland, Finland, Italy, Belgium, Russian Federation, Luxembourg, Chile and Hungary.
According to a situation report on the crisis published on 22 September by the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA), the situation in Somalia remains acute. Food insecurity continues to increase, with four million people food insecure, OCHA said, adding that mass internal and external displacement continues as people flee hunger and insecurity.