U.S. African Chamber of Commerce President Martin Mohammed Says Somali Problem is Bigger Than You Think

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Martin Mohammed, President of the U.S. African Chamber of Commerce, comments on the UNPOS Media Summary on Somalia Brussels Meeting

The United Nations Political Office for Somalia, otherwise known as UNPOS, recently released what it termed as a Media Summary on Somalia Brussels Meeting. In it, UNPOS announced that on April 22-23, 2009, a who-is-who of world leaders will converge on Brussels and ostensibly, the primary objective of this gathering will be to raise funds for Somalia and for the African Union (AMISOM) forces currently stationed in the country.

The coupling of the much-anticipated international fundraising effort for Somalia with the running operational cost for the 4000-plus African Union troops in Somalia seem a bit out of place. The real shocker of the UNPOS statement comes to the fore, however, when one reads the last two paragraphs of the one-page media release. UNPOS states that the priority of Somalia is a mere 31 million dollars for 16 thousand police and security personnel for Mogadishu compared to the whopping 134 million financial requirements of the 4300 Ugandan and Burundi troops in Somalia.

Ambassador Ould-Abdallah, the United Nations Special Representative for Somalia and the top diplomat of UNPOS, brokered the peace that led to the establishment of the current government of national unity in Somalia. One would have hoped, since the ambassador accumulated extensive experience of what ails Somalia, that he would take the next logical step and implore the international community to provide the billion dollars that Somalia desperately requires in order to sustain the current peace and build functioning national institutions. Instead, the UNPOS office opted to lump up Somalia's pressing life and death needs with the financial requirements of the African Union troops. Moreover, in the UNPOS calculation, each of the 4300 Ugandan and Burundi soldiers could earn $2,600.00 per month while the projected funding for each Somali soldier is $1,900.00 per year.

Martin Mohammed, President of the U.S. African Chamber of Commerce, said, "One would assume that an international gathering of such stature and magnitude would seriously focus on the need to resuscitate the Somali state, for Somalia is shattered for decades by civil war and political turmoil. Since everything is indeed a priority of priorities for the fledgling Somali government, even a detached observer could easily appreciate that a token 31 million dollars would not make a dent in ushering a genuine peace and lasting political solution in Somalia."

The globally felt negative consequences of the twin scourges of radicalization and piracy prove to the international community that the multifaceted Somalia challenge could no longer be contained within the Somalia borders. In order to therefore end the catastrophic humanitarian crises unfolding in Somalia since 1991, and at the same time, prevent the existing lawlessness in Somalia to threaten international peace and security, the participants of the Brussels Somalia Donor Conference must go beyond the meager UNPOS Somalia projections.

Among the core and immediate needs of the three-months old Somali government include, institution building, security, justice sector reconstitution, coastal protection and antipiracy programs, rehabilitation of physical infrastructure, emergency humanitarian relief, demobilization of two hundred thousand ex-combatants and rapid reconciliation programs.

Somalia priorities are much broader than UNPOS projections

The USACC is the leading advocacy organization for U.S. African relations and emerging African markets. The USACC is the umbrella organization for African chambers of commerce and professional trade and business associations throughout the United States and abroad.

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Martin Mohammed
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