Address by Parliamentary Secretary Obhrai to IGAD International Partners Forum Meeting on Somalia

September 27, 2013 - New York City, New York

Check Against Delivery

Canada has been a close partner of IGAD [Intergovernmental Authority on Development] since its inception and works closely with the IGAD Secretariat and other donor partners as a member of the IGAD Partners Forum. We recognize the important role that IGAD plays in bringing security and stability to the Horn of Africa.

I would like to begin by extending our deepest condolences to the Government of Kenya and all those who suffered losses in last weekend’s terrorist attack at the Westgate Mall in Nairobi. Canada condemns in the strongest possible terms this cowardly, hateful act that targeted innocent civilians. As you know, two Canadians, including a diplomat based at our High Commission in Kenya, were among the victims. Acts of terror cannot be allowed to go unpunished. Canadian staff at the high commission are offering Kenyan authorities assistance to bring the perpetrators of this heinous attack to justice.

Canada welcomes Somalia’s progress toward peace and security. As the attack in Nairobi shows, however, much effort is still needed to counter the continuing threat posed by terrorism in the region.

The New Deal for Somalia, adopted in Brussels earlier this month, represents the international community’s expectation that Somalia will successfully overcome the many challenges it currently faces, including the need to re-establish local administrations and ensure basic services, promote and protect human rights, and restore a context in which all Somalis have economic opportunities and moral alternatives to extremism.

Canada is encouraged by the gains made by AMISOM [African Union Mission in Somalia], the Somali National Armed Forces and the Ethiopian National Defence Force and appreciates their sacrifices. We also recognize the important roles played by Somalia’s neighbours and international partners in the reconstruction effort.

As you know, Canada is home to one of the largest communities in the Somali diaspora. The increasing numbers of Somali-Canadians who are returning to their homeland shows their commitment to creating a brighter future for Somalia. They are determined to help re-establish peace and security, promote economic opportunities and bring back a sense of normality to the lives of Somali citizens.

Canada is committed to continuing to work with the international community to help stabilize Somalia, and following this weekend’s attack, Canada is looking to expand its support to East Africa. We have actively participated in diplomatic efforts in support of the political transition and stabilization and reconstruction. Canada has contributed more than $12 million toward security and stabilization in Somalia and remains engaged in counterterrorism efforts. Since 2011, Canada has also contributed more than $1.5 million toward strengthening law enforcement in the Horn of Africa by providing training, equipment and technical and legal assistance to key countries to strengthen their capacity to prevent and respond to terrorist activity.

Since December 2010, Canada has provided $135 million, including $37.75 million in 2013, to support humanitarian operations in Somalia and support Somali refugees in Kenya, Ethiopia and Djibouti.

In the past, Canadian navy ships have participated in NATO counter-piracy operations in the Gulf of Aden and have also escorted ships transporting World Food Programme food aid to Somalia.

Canada will continue to support Somalia as it rebuilds after so many years of conflict.

Thank you.

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