UAE won’t back down in Somalia

khaleejtimes

 

Fighting terror and piracy with development projects has been the UAE’s stated strategy, which has worked well in Somalia.

Ramming a car laden with bombs into a UAE aid convoy was a cowardly thing to do, but the country will not be cowed down by the act of terror in Mogadishu, the capital of Somalia, that was planned and executed by the Al Shabaab.

Fighting terror and piracy with development projects has been the UAE’s stated strategy, which has worked well in Somalia.

On Wednesday, nine people, mostly Somali security officials and civilians, were killed in the ambush. Six others were injured according to reports. The Emirati team was in the Somali capital to distribute food and supplies to citizens of that country who are struggling to find their feet after decades of famine and civil strife.

UAE Minister of State for Foreign Affairs and FNC Minister Dr Anwar Mohammed Gargash, while condemning the bombing, said the country will not back down or change course as it works with the Somalia government to provide succour to residents of the country.

The UAE is the largest aid donor in the world, with its contribution to humanitarian efforts totalling $21.5 billion, of which African countries alone received $18.1 billion.

Thirty-eight Emirati organisations are involved in charitable activities across the world. In Somalia, the UAE is involved in infrastructure projects to help revive the flagging economy.

Roads, hospitals and schools are being built with Emirati help. Earlier this month, the UAE said it would open a mobile hospital in Mogadishu to provide free medical services to 300 people daily. The UAE has also supplied equipment to the fledgling Somali police force as it tries to enforce the law and keep the peace.

Armoured vehicles have been provided to the Somalia government to protect its officials on field trips. The UAE is funding an army training centre in Mogadishu with the aim to develop and deploy Somali military units, strong enough to resist the advance of militant groups like the Al Shabaab and Boko Haram.

All these initiatives have followed the success of the battle against piracy in Somalia that was spearheaded by the UAE. The government galvanised global support and took the battle to the pirates’ home bases in the Horn of Africa. Welfare projects were initiated, people who strayed into piracy were brought into the mainstream with jobs, as humanitarian aid worth $300 million was provided to the country.

But Wednesday’s attack has shown security breaches remain an area of concern in the volatile Horn of Africa region.

African Union troops numbering 22,000 from neighbouring countries like Kenya, Burundi, Djibouti, Ethiopia and Uganda patrol areas of the country. They have managed to push back militants across the border, but despite their presence, terror groups have shown they have the ability to strike from their rural strongholds.

The odds are many, but the UAE is firm in its commitment to stand shoulder to shoulder with the Somalis in their hour of need. Humanitarian and development tasks will have to be done under enhanced security cover after this attack. Somalia has suffered enough, but the UAE has proved that it is a friend in deed.

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