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Extra support for children and adults in Somalia

Today, as the Somali president visits London, the UK government announced that Somalia will receive a further 3 million pounds in aid.

Half of the money will go to supporting Somalia’s new democratic process, while 1.5 million is earmarked for providing food to around 60,000 malnourished children and mothers. Speaking to the BBC about the additional aid, the International Development Secretary, Justine Greening, said the money would help support “tens of thousands of Somalis as they cope with a food crisis caused by drought and years of instability”.

Somalia is already set to receive 63 million pounds in aid funding from the UK in 2012/2013, as part of the bilateral aid programme. This money is targeted on four key areas – governance and peace-building, wealth and job creation, health care (particularly for women and children in reproductive, maternal and newborn health) and humanitarian assistance.

In support of governance, some of Somalia’s parliamentarians will be visiting the UK in the coming months as part of a joint initiative with Norway. They will receive advice and training from experts in constitutional and parliamentary systems of government. “It’s vital that we make the most of the close links between our two countries as Somalia rebuilds its democracy,” Justine Greening told the BBC.

As part of this programme, young Somali graduates will also be offered internships in the new House of the People parliament in Mogadishu. The hope is that such placements will help create a new generation of public servants working towards peace and democracy in Somalia.

However, after over twenty years of conflict, the country faces an uphill task in creating peace and security across a whole range of areas, particularly in establishing a safe environment for its citizens. One key area of concern is the thousands of landmines and unexploded devices across the country. The south and central regions are particularly heavily mined and last year, eight children were killed by an explosion in the Middle Shabelle region.

A number of organisations, including the Danish Demining Group and the African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM) are already involved in demining operations. But there is increasing concern that as more people begin moving around and returning back to their homes, the need for mine and device clearance operations will become much greater. In the meanwhile, AMISOM plans to set up a hotline for Somalis to report suspicious objects.

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