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Leaders from the Horn of Africa, East African Community and Southern Sudan have resolved to develop a framework to find solutions to reduce the impact of natural disasters in the region and expressed concern over the on-going violence in Somalia, during a two-day summit in Nairobi, Kenya.
Echoing the them of the conference, “Ending Drought Emergencies: A Commitment to Sustainable Solutions”, the leaders promised to create the 'Nairobi Action Plan' to combat the recurring droughts in the region which have left more than 13 million people facing famine, mainly in southern Somalia.
The summit was attended by the Presidents Sharif Sheikh Ahmed of Somalia, Mwai Kibaki of Kenya, Jakaya Kikwete of Tanzania, and Salva Kiir Mayardit of South Sudan as well as Prime Ministers Meles Zenawi of Ethiopia, Raila Odinga of Kenya, and Abdiweli Mohamed Ali of Somalia while Burundi, Uganda, Sudan and Djibouti were represented by their ministers for International Cooperation and Foreign Affairs respectively.
The leaders are deeply concerned about the severe drought in the region coupled with the protracted chaos in Somalia, according to a communiqué issued at the conclusion of the summit and read by Kenyan Foreign Affairs Minister Moses Wetangula in the United Nations Building at Gigiri Nairobi.
The communique also expressed the leaders' grave concerns over the violence and insecurity in Somalia which is disrupting normal economic activity and severely limiting the delivery of emergency supplies by the humanitarian aid agencies.
The regional leaders agreed to set up and support a multi-donor trust fund for natural disasters that will be managed by Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD) and resolved to ensure the efficient utilization of water resources in the region under existing and future co-operative frameworks.
They encouraged the shift from the reliance on rain-fed agriculture to irrigation as a measure to addressing food shortages and improve food security.
In the communiqué the head of states reaffirmed their support to the Dry Land Initiative that has been launched by six Horn of Africa countries, Djibouti, Ethiopia, Kenya, Somalia, South Sudan and Uganda, to promote integrated rural development for pastoralists and farmers.
On peace and security, the leaders resolved to intensify cooperation in promoting cross-border peace, trade and mobility.
They applauded the governments Kenya, Djibouti, and Ethiopia for hosting and assisting with hundreds of thousands of Somali refugees affected by droughts, ongoing conflicts and famine despite facing their own drought.
The leaders have encouraged humanitarian agencies to increase the humanitarian assistance for the people in Somalia and also encouraged the African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM) and TFG to extend areas under their control.
The crisis summit also called on the United Nations and the international community to consider enhancing the mandate of AMISOM from peacekeeping to peace enforcement and deploying United Nations peacekeeping troops to Somalia.
They regional leaders fully support for the implementation of the Kampala Accord in accordance with agreed time table including the completion of the draft Somali constitution to pave the way to the establishment of a permanent government for the entire country.
Leaders have pledged to mobilize the support from international community to increase technical and financial resources to the Transitional Federal Government (TFG) and the formation of a joint TFG-donor Financial Management Board to manage all financial resources provided to the TFG both internally and externally.
The president of Somalia spoke to the media and confirmed that the group had agreed to a plan of action to help the region.
“Today is the conclusion of the crisis summit and we have agreed to an action plan which comprises urgent humanitarian assistance to supply food aid to the affected people and also to approach a long term solution for the recurring droughts and famine in the region,” he said.
Despite the positive agreement, much needs to be done to reign in and discipline troops from Somalia's TFG who have recently killed civilians waiting for aid and looted their supplies.
When Somalia Report asked Somalia's Minister for Interior and National Security Affairs what is being done to prevent further bloodshed by his own troops, he replied, “The government has set up a clear strategy to realize that we cannot accept to looting or killing the internally displaced people, nor one can we undermine or loot food assistance to the affected people in the IDP camps in Somalia,” he said.
He confirmed that the intelligence branch of the TFG is investigating the incidents and anyone who is found guilty will be brought to justice.
Finally the leaders of the Horn of Africa nations plan to adopt the 'Nairobi Action Plan' in conjunction with the African Development Bank Group, in the upcoming meeting on 14th and 15th September 2011 in Djibouti.