Somalis divided on London conference

Some in Mogadishu see international Somalia meet-up as hopeful sign, while others remain sceptical it will bring change.

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    Somalis divided on London conference
    About $130m was pledged in aid to Somalia at the London conference on Tuesday [AFP]

    Mogadishu, Somalia - An international conference on Somalia attended by representatives from 50 countries and organisations was held in London on Tuesday.

    Its aim was to garner support for the Somali government in its effort to rebuild the war-torn country, and prevent it from slipping back into lawlessness.

    The conference, co-hosted by Somali President Hassan Sheikh Mohamud and UK Prime Minister David Cameron, saw donors pledge some $130m in aid to Somalia.

    But not all leaders from Somalia’s patchwork of self-governing regions attended. Here's what residents of Mogadishu, Somalia's capital, thought about the conference and their country's future:

    Abdirahman Mohamed, 56, taxi driver
    Abdirahman Mohamed

    I listened to the conference on the radio and I think our country is coming back. A lot of pledges were made, which I think - if fulfilled - will bring us a lot of development and a big moral boost. For me, I’m hoping the government uses some of the money pledged to fix the city’s roads and recruit good police officers.

    It was a good conference in general, in my opinion.

    Habiba Ali, 60, meat seller
    Habiba Ali

    I haven’t heard about the conference. And honestly, I couldn’t care about a conference in London. Ask me about the price of meat and how much a goat costs in Mogadishu - that I know a lot about.

    This conference is news to me, and I don’t know what another Somali conference in a foreign land will bring for us.

    Omar Nur Mohamed, 24, hotel receptionist
    Omar Nur Mohamed

    I didn’t follow the conference. To me, this conference looked no different than the many other conferences held for Somalia that accomplished nothing.

    The conference didn’t feel inclusive. Presidents from Somaliland and Puntland were missing. The whole country was not represented.

    More pressing for me is the need to re-open Makka al-Mukarama road, because since the government closed the road our hotel has lost clients and business

    Zahro Hassan Sodal, 40, shop owner
    Zahro Hassan Sodal

    I didn’t have the chance to watch or listen to the conference as I had to work, but I hope this conference is not like the many conferences before it.

    I hope for the best, but I don’t think it was representative. Puntland's president was missing from the conference. I think change will happen when all regions of Somalia come together

    Abdullahi Yussuf Hussein, 28, barber
    Abdullahi Yussuf Hussein

    I fully support the conference and I think it is the right move to bring Somalis together, like the conference did.

    I don’t think this conference is like previous ones, because this conference is taking place when we have peace in Mogadishu. Other conferences took place when there was war here.

    But what is more important for me is for the road in front of my shop to open again, so I can have customers again. I have rent and family to support, and the conference will not pay my rent or feed my family.

    Muhidin Sheikh Mohamed, 40, money broker
    Muhidin Sheikh Mohamed, money changer

    I liked the conference. A lot of good promises and pledges were made, which is what our country needs now after 23 years of war. I can’t tell the difference between this conference and the others before it, but I have hope.

    We have peace in the city, which we didn’t have before. Anything is possible.



    Follow Hamza on Twitter: @Hamza_Africa

    SOURCE: Al Jazeera


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