Knapen visits Mogadishu

Minister for European Affairs and International Cooperation Ben Knapen visited Mogadishu today – the first time a member of the Dutch government has visited the Somali capital in over 25 years.

At a camp for displaced persons, Somali and international NGOs and UN representatives informed Mr Knapen about the humanitarian situation in Somalia. The situation is particularly complicated in central and southern parts of Somalia. Some areas are difficult to reach. As a result, two million people in need are not receiving food aid, although many do have access to medical assistance and sanitation provided by international and Somali organisations that have been operating in the country for many years and know how to deal with pressure from the rebel group al Shabaab.

In his talks with President Sheikh Sharif Sheikh Ahmed and Prime Minister Abdiweli Mohamed Ali, Mr Knapen insisted that the authorities must provide maximum security to aid workers. He also said that the government should see the involvement and efforts of the international community as an opportunity to strengthen stability in Somalia.

Nearly 13 million people in the Horn of Africa are in need of aid. This year, the Netherlands has contributed 155 million euros to organisations like the World Food Programme (WFP), the UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR) and the United Nations Central Emergency Response Fund (CERF), which may be used to alleviate suffering in the Horn of Africa. The Netherlands has also contributed towards the 158 million euros in aid provided by the European Commission.

On top of these amounts, the Dutch government has provided over 15 million euros for additional emergency aid in the Horn of Africa, including over 6 million euros specifically for aid in Somalia. These funds go to projects carried out by international and Somali NGOs, such as the Somali Young Doctors Association programme that feeds more than 5,000 malnourished children and 6,000 pregnant women. The Norwegian Refugee Council has built 1,400 latrines in Mogadishu for 21,000 displaced persons.