UK Foreign Secretary arrives in Somalia on security visit

Philip Hammond visits as British troops deploy to support UN security effort

Foreign Secretary, Philip Hammond, visited Somalia on 2 June as part of a three day security visit to East Africa.

The UK is the only EU country to maintain an Embassy in Somalia and has taken a lead in coordinating international support for the fledgling Somali government. The UK is providing around £200m of support toward a secure Somalia, including delivery of security sector reform augmented by the deployment of up to 70 extra UK military personnel to the UN’s Support Office in Somalia (UNSOS), which provides crucial support to AMISOM (African Union Mission in Somalia).

The Foreign Secretary also expressed his sympathies for the families of those who lost their lives in yesterday’s Al Shabaab attack. The fatalities included two Somali MPs with dual British citizenship.

Following meetings with the Somali President and Prime Minister in Mogadishu, the Foreign Secretary said:

A secure and stable Somalia is the UK’s top priority in East Africa and is in our own national security interests. Britain is providing security support to Somalia and to the African Union to tackle Al Shabaab, a terrorist organisation that cannot be allowed to take hold.

This week’s Al Shabaab attack is yet another reminder of the importance of the work we are doing to support Somalia and to increase security across the region.

Britain is increasing its support to the UN peace operations, with around 70 British military personnel deploying to Somalia.

I was encouraged to hear from Somali President Hassan Sheikh Mohamud on the progress that has been made towards a more inclusive electoral process for August 2016. This will be a key step towards one-person, one-vote elections in 2020 and agreement of an overall Federal settlement, which is also crucial to Somalia’s future stability.

The Foreign Secretary arrived in Mogadishu having spent the previous day in Addis Ababa in discussions with the Ethiopian government and the African Union. He encouraged the Ethiopian government to maintain its commitment to the Somali Federal Government to help them cement the gains made so far.

Speaking about his visit to Addis Ababa, the Foreign Secretary said:

In Addis Ababa I encouraged the Ethiopian government to maintain its commitment to Somalia. This is crucial for regional stability and to end the cycle of insecurity and under-development. The whole region must work together to combat the scourge of Al Shabaab and the religious extremism that has such a damaging effect on the lives of ordinary people.

Britain will continue to work with Ethiopia to protect our national security interests and to help Ethiopia manage refugees in the country, and prevent their onward migration.

The visit will conclude in Nairobi on 3 June.

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