From the podium

From the podium


His Excellency Osman Jama Ali (Deputy Prime Minister of the Somali Democratic Republic)

Your Excellencies, Distinguished Delegates, Ladies and Gentlemen, Somalia is reappearing after being absent from the international arena for more than a decade. We were missing in action. We have been at war for a large part of the last century, fighting for independence, fighting against dictatorships, fighting against nepotism and corruption, and ultimately fighting for justice. We are fighting for a just distribution of power, wealth, social opportunities such as education, health, jobs and other nationally owned resources.

It must be understood that nearly all conflicts in Africa are struggles for survival, security and justice – they are resource-based struggles or conflicts. In the post-colonial era, nearly all inherited state institutions had not been established on democratic principles, and therefore nepotism and corruption became a way of life. In order to correct grave previous mistakes, sacrifices have to be made.

In Somalia during the turmoil, the international community, especially our neighbours, were very kind and generous in accepting us as refugees. North America and Europe were also exceptionally generous and gave refuge to a large number of Somalis. Our thanks to them also.

Europe, after fighting two World Wars, got rid of dictators and achieved democracy and the present prosperity. Now, it is an accepted fact that good governance and democracy play a big role in food production and in the elimination of hunger and poverty. Europe eradicated hunger within 50 years. Africa, with the help of the Declaration of this World Food Summit can achieve food security and raise surplus within a shorter period as it has more suitable conditions for food production than any other continent. So, the hope and future expectations are bright.

In many Third World countries, access to power means access to resources – in a personal way. In the long civil strife of Somalia, to achieve justice in politics, economics and social opportunities, and to end wars, there were more than a dozen national reconciliation conferences. The last one, which was held for the Somalis by the Djibouti Government, known as "The Arta Reconciliation Conference", was the most productive and realistic one.

A Parliament representing all the sectors of Somali society was democratically elected, and through that Parliament, a President and a Transitional National Government were established for a period of three years. The outcomes of the Arta-Djibouti Peace and Reconciliation process have been supported by the vast majority of the Somalis. The Transitional National Government is struggling to create a peaceful environment and put law and order in place.

As the Transitional National Government is a baby government it has no means, at the present time, to give material support to the Somali food producers such as farmers, fishermen and animal herders.

So, for a period, it will be the sole responsibility of FAO and the international community to give the necessary assistance to the Somali food producers, who have enough fertile land, rich fishing grounds and a large number of sheep, goats, camels and cattle, but are lacking the means to develop such resources in a sustainable and profitable way.

We have full confidence in the deliberations and programmes of the FAO as we have been cooperating with them since 1960, immediately after gaining independence.

Personally, I was the Minister for Fisheries and Marine Resources for 12 years and I know very well the good intentions, programmes, expertise and plans of FAO.

The Transitional National Government fully endorses the Declaration of this World Food Summit. We wish every success and extend our congratulations to FAO and to the Government and the people of Italy for the realization of this project.

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