The situation in Somalia gets sporadic coverage in Canadian newspapers and on our television news, but it is one that merits earnest and thoughtful attention. To that end, hundreds of people are gathered in London this week; I'm proud to have represented Canada and Canadians.
The recent drought in the Horn of Africa and famine in Somalia cause us all great consternation. The reports and footage during the worst days of the drought were truly saddening. But as the people of Somalia and the Horn of Africa struggle with unspeakable hardship, an organization is maliciously undermining the work of the international community working to deliver much needed aid.
Al Shabab, a listed terrorist organization, in banning numerous humanitarian agencies, hampers aid efforts by blocking the delivery of aid, all while provoking fear in those who are struggling to keep their children alive. This militant group has partnered with al-Qaida to take advantage of an already vulnerable, destabilized region.
That is why we must build stability in the region. Without it, terrorists will continue to prey on the defenceless. Canada will continue to stand with the people of Somalia. Just this past fall, the Government of Canada matched dollar for dollar the donations of Canadians from every corner of our country and created the East Africa Drought Relief Fund. In total, Canada has contributed $145.1 million to aide those affected by this humanitarian catastrophe. Funding supported the efforts of the World Food Program, as well as water infrastructure and sanitation. Canada can be proud of its commitments.
Despite our collective efforts, Somalia has much more work to do before it makes the transition to a stable and secure society. Increasing transparency and accountability is key to advancing Somalia’s political and economic development. This is one fundamental issue we addressed during our deliberations.
As conflict, terrorism and piracy wreak havoc on Somalia’s political stability, we need to inject new life in the political process; strengthen Somalia’s security forces; and take steps to combat terrorism and piracy.
The African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM), which protects civilians, is an essential tool to stability. In late 2011, our government announced a contribution of $1 million to the UN Trust Fund for AMISOM, and today I am pleased to report that the Government is supporting the deployment of a formed police unit from Uganda to Somalia.
The senseless violence inflicted by Al Shabab has signalled that our generosity and willingness to help the people of Somalia is not enough. We need to continue to work with the international community to help build a stable, sustainable and secure future for Somalia.
Although we are under no illusions this will be an easy task, or that a political solution will be reached this week in London, it is something we will commit ourselves to work towards.