Britain has called on other countries to shore up support for the drought relief efforts in Somalia warning the situation was dire but a famine could be averted if concerted efforts are put in place.
In an exclusive interview with Goobjoog News, Johnson said Britain was committed to supporting Somalia deal with the drought which is ravaging most parts of the country.
“I am very proud the UK has just given £110 million pounds and that money is already buying food, medical supplies. I have been to see the operations myself so it’s already happening. We want other countries to join in now,” said Johnson.
The UK minister who held talks with President Mohamed Farmaajo earlier in the day said countries must commit resources to stem the tide of drought in Somalia and sounded upbeat of efforts so far.
“We feel that this time it’s better than 2011; we feel that this time the response by Somalia is faster. So we are hopeful that there won’t be many people who will suffer and the appalling malnutrition we saw the last time,” said Johnson but warned, “The situation is very serious and we want to see other countries commit.”
Britain on Wednesday announced that it would match “pound for pound” the first £5 million ($6.1 million) donated by the public to the Disasters Emergency Committee’s new East Africa Crisis Appeal. The committee is a collection of 13 British aid agencies.
Johnson said he discussed with President Farmaajo the security situation in the country, governance and efforts at dealing with Al-Shabaab.
“We discussed the partnership between Britain and Somalia which is a very long standing one. What we can do to support Somalia to make sure that the country devises together a way of dealing with the security problem and how all of the federal states of Somali can come together to support the government to deal with corruption, bad governance, Al-Shabaab in a very concerted way because that’s how you deal with economic problems and the drought as well,” the UK minister said.
Regarding the upcoming UK conference on Somalia in May, Johnson said the conference will focus on developing the security architecture in Somalia, reinforcing partnerships and exploring investment opportunities for Somalia.
Said Johnson, “We want to see a new agreement between all the Somali security architecture and how it works. How we control the military forces, how Somalis can work together to run their country. Secondly there must be a partnership between Somalia and the donor countries; the people who give. I would also like to see some understanding of how the investment in Somalia by western countries can be beneficial.”
The UK Minister’s visit follows last week’s visit of UN Secretary General Antonio Guteres to bolter drought relief efforts.
Johnson said his government is committed to working with Somalia in various sectors for long term sustainability.
“We have been with Somalia through thick and thin. But I also want you to know we are here for the long term as well. And so the UK commitment is, we may not do flashy things, we may not do things that you can necessarily see but we send hundreds of millions of pounds to support Somalia in education, in health in programs that that are in line with security, programmes that are for the long term good of this country and we gonna continue to do that,” Johnson noted.