Donors pledge over $250m for Somalia
BRUSSELS - International donors pledged more than $250 million yesterday to strengthen Somalia's security forces and try to stop the rampant attacks by armed Somali pirates that have plagued one of the world's most important waterways.
The hefty sum, which included funding for military equipment and material as well as development aid, exceeded the initial request made by UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon, EU Development Commissioner Louis Michel said.
"We have just begun the first step of an important process to restore rule of law in Somalia . . . which has been a lawless state for 20 years," Ban told a news conference following a one-day, UN-sponsored donors' conference.
Stabilizing Somalia was the focus of the meeting, but the near-daily pirate attacks along Somalia's coastline that endanger ships from around the world immediately moved to the forefront of the discussions.
"Piracy is a symptom of anarchy and insecurity on the ground," Ban told the delegates. "More security on the ground will make less piracy on the seas."
Somali President Sheik Sharif Sheik Ahmed pledged to do "everything imaginable" to stabilize Somalia and fight piracy.