Six months after his last visit to this war-torn country, Mr Holmås returned to the capital for political talks on 27 June.
“The new Government has achieved a good deal during its first 10 months in power. Nevertheless it is eager to push the democratisation process forward, and this is why Norway has signed a letter of intent on further Norwegian support for the difficult work of building a state from scratch,” said Mr Holmås.
Minister of International Development, Heikki Eidsvoll Holmås, signed a letter of intent with the authorities in Mogadishu 27 June 2013. Minister of Foreign Affairs, Fowsiyo Yussuf Haji Aadan (left). (Photo: MFA)
There was extensive media interest when Mr Holmås arrived to sign the letter of intent, under which Norway will take a leading role in the international efforts to establish a temporary financial mechanism. This will enable the new Government to start developing public services, which at present are virtually non-existent.
“Somalia’s President emphasised the importance of the work Norway is doing in several areas. We agree that there needs to be greater transparency regarding the financial flows into the country. Strong mechanisms to prevent corruption are also vital if we are to continue our efforts and encourage other countries to support the Somali authorities’ efforts,” said Mr Holmås.
Norway has provided around NOK 175 million to the financial mechanism, which is designed to ensure full transparency regarding how much money is allocated at any time and how this is used, in order to ensure the most effective possible management of financial resources. Particular attention is to be paid to the situation of women, environmental considerations and capacity-building.
In the once extremely beautiful coastal city of Mogadishu, Mr Holmås met President Hassan Sheikh Mohamud, Prime Minister Abdi Farah Shirdon, Minister of Foreign Affairs Fowsiyo Yussuf Haji Aadan, Minister of Finance and Planning Mohamud Hassan Suleiman and Speaker of Parliament Mohamed Osman Jawari.
Mr Holmås raised the issue of the vulnerable position of women in a society that is marked by violence, lawlessness and limited opportunities for education and income generation. The Somali Foreign Minister pointed out that overcoming conservative Islamist forces that are opposed to women’s empowerment would have an important effect on the position of women.
Mr Holmås also met the UN Under-Secretary-General for Political Affairs, Jeffrey Feltman. He expressed his solidarity with those affected by the attack against the UN office on 19 June, where several UN employees as well and other local and international employees lost their lives. Mr Feldman made it clear that the UN would continue to increase its presence in Somalia, which has previously been limited due to the war. Norway is providing considerable support to UN organisations and other aid organisations in the country.
“The world needs to see Somalia with new eyes. We must try to move away from images of war and emergency relief to focus on development and state-building. It is important that the Somali Government is in control and that the international community coordinates its engagement both between the various donors and with the Somali authorities in order to achieve the most constructive cooperation possible,” said Mr Holmås.
He emphasised that Norway will continue to provide emergency relief because people in many parts of the country are still experiencing a humanitarian crisis. More than one million have fled their homes, and even more need assistance in order to survive.