Sunday, February 26, 2012

Oxfam International issued a statement on Somali conference

At the end of the conference, Oxfam International issued a statement that, while correct in evaluating the outcome in bread and butter terms for the Somalis, curiously failed to note how it would not have happened without the actions by African forces on the ground. “While we recognise the huge efforts of the UK government to make the conference a success, what we had hoped for was a recognition that 20 years of internationally imposed solutions have failed. However, what we’ve seen once again are externally driven solutions that haven’t worked, aren’t working and will not work. “We anticipated the conference would offer hope to the millions of people hit by drought and conflict, and support to build a peace process that included a wide section of Somali society. What we got was the rhetoric of Somali inclusion but you cannot go forward with a new constitution and elections in such a troubled country without a wide and inclusive political engagement within Somali society.” A sarcastic and dismissive report in the New York Times said, “Here on the ground, in scorching-hot Somali villages like Tabda, where people live in twig huts and stagger from shady spot to shady spot to avoid the wrath of the sun, there is laughing disbelief that any conference 4,000 miles away will solve anything.” On the ground, though, the belligerents were fighting to milk the approaching conference for good headlines, and to position for a good seat at the table in a year or so, when optimists say most parts will “at least be half-stable.”

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