Somali President Hassan Sheikh Mohamud has appealed to the European Union (EU) to reconsider its approach to assisting Somalia and shift from providing humanitarian aid to helping with sustainable development projects and investments. Speaking at the Global Gateway Forum 2023, President Hassan Sheikh emphasised the need to transform humanitarian aid. The meeting of the EU and developing countries’ representatives took place on Wednesday and Thursday in Brussels.
In his speech, President Hassan Sheikh highlighted the Somali Security Forces’ significant achievements in combating al-Shabaab. According to the President, since July 2022, Somali forces have liberated over 80 districts from the al-Shabaab control. Hassan Sheikh said this illustrates the progress in restoring peace and stability in the region.
President Hassan Sheikh further highlighted the successful efforts in reestablishing formal education in areas such as Harardhere. Such places had suffered from lacking educational opportunities for over a decade. Through school reforms and teacher training initiatives, education has been revitalised. It now provides children with renewed hope and a pathway to a promising future.
Transition from humanitarian aid
Citing these positive developments, President Hassan Sheikh expressed his belief that Somalia is now ready to transition from relying solely on humanitarian and emergency aid to more sustainable development projects. He urged the EU to redirect their assistance towards investments that would foster long-term growth. Such can include infrastructure development, job creation, and capacity-building initiatives.
By shifting the focus from short-term relief to long-term development, President Hassan Sheikh seeks to empower the Somali people and create a foundation for a self-sufficient and prosperous nation. The President’s appeal underscores the Somali government’s commitment to advancing its own development agenda and taking ownership of its future.
Course towards self-reliance
The request to the EU aligns with the President’s vision of transforming Somalia into a nation characterised by economic growth. By redirecting aid resources towards development projects, Somalia aims to build a solid framework that will enable the country to thrive and overcome challenges effectively.
The response of the European Union to President Hassan Sheikh’s proposal is yet to come. However, his call for a shift from humanitarian aid to sustainable development initiatives reflects Somalia’s determination to chart a new course towards self-reliance and prosperity.
EU’s recent suspension of aid
President’s request towards the EU comes not long after Somalia’s humanitarian aid blunder. In September, the EU suspended humanitarian aid to Somalia, citing widespread theft. The ‘temporary suspension’ came in response to a United Nations (UN) report that prompted key Somalia supporters to reevaluate their commitments.
During an interview with Reuters, Balazs Ujvari, a spokesman for the European Commission, refrained from explicitly confirming or denying the suspension of aid to Somalia. However, he reiterated the EU’s commitment to combating corruption. “We will continue to monitor the situation and abide by our zero-tolerance approach to fraud, corruption, or misconduct.”
The UN report provided a scathing account of the extent of corruption within the aid sector in Somalia. The Federal Government of Somalia (FGS) tried to address the allegations. It claimed the UN provided only a summary of the key findings and recommendations but restrained from specifying the location, concerned agencies or the diverted amounts.