The Netherlands – The Association of European Parliamentarians with Africa (AWEPA) and Karti Foundation organised a meeting between Mr. Peter de Clercq, UN Deputy Special Representative for Somalia and the Somali diaspora community in the Netherlands on 28 January 2013. The topic of this meeting was the recent developments in Somalia and the role of the diaspora in Somalia’s future.
Dr. Jan Nico Scholten, Founder and Political Coordinator for AWEPA’s Somalia programme, spoke about AWEPA’s work with the Somali Parliament. Dr. Scholten will be coordinating the training of Somali Members of Parliament. AWEPA has been actively supporting legislative institutions in Somalia since 2004, first with support from the European Commission and later from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Netherlands. More recently, both the United Nations Political Office for Somalia (UNPOS) and the United Nations Development Progamme (UNDP) in Somalia have also co-financed and partnered in activities carried out under the project.
Mr. Farimos Maalim, boardmember of Karti, discussed his recent visit to Mogadishu, Somalia. The purpose of his 6-week stay in Mogadishu was to assess the needs of the Somali government institutions. He noted that the needs of the government are endless. He is, however, very hopeful as the government is working towards their goals by starting small and tackling severe needs of the people before dealing with the bigger issues. Furthermore, Mr. Maalim has talked to many representatives of the Somali business community. Due to the (relatively) high risk and a select number of business competitors, the opportunities for those entering the Somali market are vast.
Mr. Peter de Clercq acknowledges that the moment for Somalia has come and “it’s now or never”. He has been working in Somalia for a year now. The challenges facing the United Nations Political Office for Somalia, of which Mr. de Clercq is the Deputy chief, in 2012 have been tremendous. Nevertheless, looking back, Mr. De Clercq believes that the organisation he represents has dodged many proverbial bullets during the recent Somali election season, which has proven to be the most successful in decades. The current Somali government is taking many positive steps toward rebuilding the Somali institutions and regaining credibility by implementing well thought-out policies. Mr. De Clercq also believes that the Somali diaspora can positively contribute in the rebuilding of their homeland, provided they come with the right intentions and seek collaboration with the local people. Due to the severe lack of technocrats in Somalia, the diaspora and their knowledge is necessary to accelerate the capacity building in the different sectors of public and private life. In conclusion, Mr. De Clercq pointed out that it is important for the international community and the diaspora to support the process that is going on in Somalia and not to ‘drop the ball’ on Somalia. It is crucial to keep the focus on Somalia and its fragile, but incredibly hopeful, process of revitalization.
Mr. Peter De Clercq, UN Deputy Special Representative for Somalia
Dr. Jan Nico Scholten, Founder and Political Coordinator for the Somalia Programme at AWEPA
Mr. Farimos Maalim, Chairman of Karti Foundation