Matt Baugh

Ambassador to Somalia

Part of UK in Somalia

9th January 2013 Nairobi, Kenya

Somalia: A New Year’s Resolution – Together into 2013

A year ago, few predicted that Somalia would see such significant changes; yet 2012 saw some real progress in Somalia – including the end of the Transition; a new Parliament (with a significant number of new MPs); the election of a new, reform-minded Speaker and President and a desire for a different type of politics. Al Shabaab has been weakened, having lost the strategic locations of Baidoa and Kismayo, to add to the loss of Mogadishu in 2011. It has also seen renewed international support – from Somalia’s neighbours, the AU and, via the London and Istanbul conferences, the wider international community.

As we look forward, these changes offer better prospects for enhanced stability in Somalia than those seen in two decades. Somalia’s President has identified his preliminary priorities, which we support. Delivering on these will need strong Somali leadership and sustained international commitment. It’s not just about rebuilding Somalia’s state institutions, reversing the massive displacement or arresting the changing nature of Al Shabaab’s insurgency. It’s also about helping the government extend its authority; re-building trust; integrating militia into the national forces; and creating the right incentives for a national political process. This means supporting the new government to make progress in newly-recovered areas, to facilitate political reconciliation and foster greater collaboration with its neighbours; to transparently manage its own finances. At the heart of this agenda is showing that life can be – is – better now than previously or under Al Shabaab.

All this can be done – but it won’t be quick, nor can it be internationally-driven. As 2013 dawns, there are some clear priorities that – together – we can start to address.

Firstly, security. Al Shabaab is weakening, piracy currently in decline. To consolidate the territorial gains being made, AMISOM needs sustained support to deliver their mission; together with the Somali security forces, AMISOM now covers a significant proportion of the country. But, longer-term, AMISOM is unsustainable. Somalia needs its own security forces – credible, capable and accountable forces (army, police, coastguard), supporting a more effective judicial system in which Somalis have greater confidence.

Secondly, supporting the government to extend its reach and authority. It has a clear idea of what it wants to do: directing local stabilisation, facilitating political outreach, integrating militia, demonstrating to its people that they are better and more credible than the alternative. By demonstrating their commitment to financial transparency, the government can access support and assistance to control corruption, improve accountability, enhance its legitimacy and credibility – accessing financial assistance from major donors.

At the same, it’s clear that continued international support will be required. Recommendations on both the UN and AU missions will be presented and discussed in the next few weeks. We need to make sure the opportunities afforded by these two timely reviews are seized. Coordinated and coherent international leadership are vital to reinforce and assist Somalia’s own leadership. Both organisations have been at the forefront of international assistance over many years; as we move into this next, vital phase, we should make sure both help the new government deliver progress on the issues that matter.

This will inevitably mean greater prioritisation – on issues like security, justice, governance and public financial management. This, in turn, means greater collaboration and coordination among donors. We need to demonstrate we are prepared to make the shift that the President and our Somali partners are calling for – a greater presence; more direct engagement. The re-establishment of the British Embassy in Mogadishu in 2013 will be a tangible sign of the UK’s commitment.

Finally, we shouldn’t forget Somalia remains one of the world’s most challenging humanitarian contexts, both in terms of access and, most importantly, need. Over 2 million Somalis are acutely vulnerable; there are now three generations of Somalis in refugee camps outside the country. Improving the prospect for ordinary Somalis – basic assistance, the ability to return home, should they want – needs to be a yardstick by which we measure success.

As 2013 begins, many challenges exist; but so do the opportunities for a more stable future. Partnership, commitment, leadership; with the right resolve, the ambitions of all Somalis for a more peaceful, stable Somalia – one which the UK fully shares – could be within reach.

As ever, I’d welcome your thoughts. Once again, a very Happy New Year.

15 comments on “Somalia: A New Year’s Resolution – Together into 2013

  1. I would like to thank British government and British people for their commitment to help Somali people get stable and secure to live their country freely and fairly.
    I knew that after London conference have happened a lot of important issues, road map had worked out, a Somali Constitution had passed and Transitional had ended.
    But the security is still the issue, the civic distrust the system of the policing at all, which is still linking what were happening past decades.
    To insure social security and to go forward to the pure future, I would to suggest to take this unacceptable idea but it is a solution.
    Firstly, to declare Somali Disarm Propose, which make everyone who wants to join army, be clear with any crime and well-suited.
    Secondly, to give enough training to handle this job and to be fit and capable physically and mentally.
    Thirdly, must be mature and scholar person who cannot accept any persuade from terror.
    After that as a civic we can trust, which killed my father, rape my sister, looted my property is not in the army.
    The end I would like to request the British government to help Somali people individually directly one by one, which is more than affects a millions through government or other organisations.
    What we need more than everything is to get soon is a cultural changing and how to do that is easy, to offer all Somalia children to get a chance to speak English language and they soon graduate to understand where the world directly go, and they build their future soon, as I quite sure Somali kids are very clever but they don’t get a chance.
    Thank you very much for given us a chance to explore what we think.
    Osman in London

  2. Indeed, a well summarized thoughts and vision in relation to issues that matter to Somali people and country. It is very encouraging the commitment of UK government has shown to rebuild Somalia’s future as well as other key international partners including AU, Amison, Turkey, USA, Arab League, etc. Let us hope and pray that the Somali new government will take all the opportunities offered in both hands and be empowered to overcome the challenges ahead. Additionally, Somali Diaspora can and should take a proactive role to contribute to the empowerment of Somali government and public sector through their skills and expertise as well as finance.

  3. Mr Baugh, encouraging words indeed, at a time when Somalia and its friends are poised to make progress in the right direction. I agree with your comments about the new government and the optimism that this brings.

    Somalia has many friends in the UK, both from Somali diaspora and from the UK police and civil service. We also have many experienced Somalis in the diaspora with a desire to help their mother country, with the right re-training and coaching. We have human resources in place and plans written to assist with key areas like policing, civil service and governance.

    A longer term aim must be for Somalia, rich in natural and human resources, to become self-sufficient and relieve it from dependence on donors.

    I fear that without significant investment in high level specialist skills and the ongoing development of Somali human resources and technical support to develop the institutions of state, including domestic policing, all good intentions will fail.

    So, we believe strongly in trainer-training and the empowerment of the Somali government, police and civil service, by passing on valuable expertise and skills to specialists, managers and leaders in the Somali public sector.

  4. Happy new year to you and thanks for you inspirational words. I am over 50 and was in exile for over two decades. Frankely, I was much worried to leave this world before seeing “Somalia” back on its feet. But, tks god people like you and “David Camroon” seem to be diverting my hopelessness.

    Good luck with your efforts and if “Britsh Embassy” comes back others will follow because “British” were the first to recognise “Somali Independence” back in 1960.

  5. The ambassodor has made clear that the UK is heartly supportig Somalia in its endevours to to establish security, justice, good governace and progress
    for the suffering millions of Somali people. UK is giving now practical assistance to Somalia within the international organisations and has stated its support and its increased commitment to the Somali cause on many occasions. I hope an effective collabration on these issues and others will materialise in future for the mutual benefit of both countries.

  6. Your highness, the president said a lot of great things that is yet to materialise. While I appreciate the fact that sorting out the mess in Somalia would need time, a clear timetable with clear benchmarks need to be in place.
    The security gains on the ground need to be matched by a political program at the heart of which should be extensive political outreach and reconciliation. You have touched on trust building which can’t be reached without justice system that the people of Somalia trust. Somalis need to decide what they want, and tough choices need to be made. If Somalis choose to stay together, then real steps towards a country for all needs to be made. This is not going to go away, we can’t afford denial anymore. I also hope to see tough measures taken against those who misappropriate aid, especially the UK since this is our hard earned taxes.
    And I just would like to add that the UK is not like Turkey, the UK is the only country that stood by Somalia throughout the years and still is. It supported Somalia’s political process and Somalia’s poor through its aid policy. It supported the UN in its work in Somalia and continues to. The UK is home to the largest Somali community outside Africa. When the world closed its doors, the UK gave us homes and full citizenship rights, and it gave us free health, education, and dignity. When we travel the world including the Muslim world, we are proud British Somalis and we are treated with respect. Britain has been the only consistent friend Somalia and Somalis have. I am so sorry but without the UK there would be no international community interest in Somalia.

  7. Its good news for all Somalis that at last the Britain are following the footsteps of other nationals like Turkey,Sudan, and reinstating its Embassy in Mogadishu. We also hope USA and other big countries will get jealous on that and announce their Missions in Somalia Soon.

  8. This is very encouraging update. No doubt, the situation is improving, albeit slowly. But I think everything is not as smooth as it is said here. There were several recently political missteps that caused the eyebrows to raise. For example, President Hassan’s recent public utterance about the provisionally approved constitution displayed his contempt for Federalism – which is seen the most viable political solution for Somalia. The contentious issue of Kismanyo and Jubaland regions remain unsettled. In the North, both Puntland and Somaliland are putting off fires following the unpopular term extension of the first and recent disputed local government elections of the later.
    Political rhetoric of Somalia leadership aside, Somalia is crossing a bridge. ‘She’ cannot make it alone to the other end. It will slip and fall if the International Community do not live up to their commitment and steer the process of establishing sustainable peace and credible democratic institutions. The new ‘political leadership’ may be trying but may not achieve much without the support of the international partners.
    This little girl crossing the bridge with her father may explain my concern better: “A little girl and her father were crossing a bridge. The father was kind of scared so he asked his little daughter:
    “Sweet heart, please hold my hand so that you don’t fall into the river.”
    The little girl said: “No, Dad. You hold my hand.”
    “What’s the difference?” asked the puzzled father. “There’s a big difference,” replied the little girl.
    “If I hold your hand and something happens to me, chances are that I may let your hand go. But if you hold my hand, I know for sure that no matter what happens, you will never let my hand go.” Source unknown

    Thank You.

  9. Inspiring thoughts and vision from Ambassador Matt Bough. Somalis had never forgotten or forgiven Great Britain’s part in the dismemberment of the Somali homeland. All that could change, judging by Britain’ recent initiatives, like the London conference on Somalia in February 2012, and the forthcoming one in London in the spring of 2013. Ambassador Bough’s unflagging efforts are bound to play a leading role in ensuring that these initiatives bear fruit on the ground in Somalia. But nothing could change the negative memories from the past than a UK that brought the Somalis together across regions, north and south, in a democratic united Somalia. Young and dynamic, Ambassador Matt Bough is destined to be the best British Ambassador for Somalia at this most critical time of Somalia history. He will have his place in our history. We look forward to see him manning the Embassy in Mogadishu in the near future In Shaa Allah!

  10. We are seriously concerned, saddened and disturbed about the silence of the grave violations and rape of Somali women in the refugee camps in Kenya and Somalia. We urge you and the international community to protect these vulnerable women. The protection of women is as important as security.

  11. Thank you Mr. Ambassador, and Happy New Year to you and your good offices. Yes indeed a more peaceful and stable Somalia is within reach. Lets hope it is heralded in this year.
    Thank you once again.

  12. Good points, hopefully the international community walks the talk. It seems the UK wants to follow the footsteps of TURKEY -which is a step in the right direction. The rest of the international community in Nairobi should pack their bags and camp in Moqdisho to deliver.

  13. Amen, at long last there is a glimpse of light at the end of this prolonged dark tunnel.

  14. British Ambassador to Somalia, Nairobi office… It is time to move all offices into Somalia. How long do you will work offside of reality?

    1. I agree with the previous respondent’s Malak Nuur comments.

      Yes indeed, I think Britain should move its Somali Embassy into Somalia. After all the embassy was created to represent Somalia and it can hardly do that in foreign country. Lets show real hope to the people, country and the world Britain.

Comments are closed.

About Matt Baugh

Matt is married to Caroline, a GP from South London specialising in pre-hospital care and tropical medicine. They have 3 small children. Matt has been working on Somalia since May…

Matt is married to Caroline, a GP from South London
specialising in pre-hospital care and tropical medicine. They have 3
small children. Matt has been working on Somalia since May 2010, when he was appointed the UK’s Senior Representative and Head of the UK’s
Somalia Office. On 2 February 2012 he was accredited as the first
British Ambassador to Somalia for 21 years. Since taking up his Somalia
appointment, he has been able to travel to Mogadishu, Hargeisa and
Garowe, and has been deeply touched by the warmth of the welcome he has received, but also the scale of the challenges that Somali people face
every day.
Matt is a career civil servant and is currently on secondment to the
Foreign Office from the UK Department for International Development. Now 37, he has spent much of his career to date dealing with conflict,
security and humanitarian issues. Since 1999 he has worked in Iraq,
Sudan, Afghanistan and the Balkans, as well as a number of major relief
operations and protracted emergencies. He also helped to set up and lead
the UK’s Post Conflict Reconstruction Unit, now the UK Stabilisation
Unit. Matt is a graduate of the UK Joint Services Command and Staff
College’s Higher Command and Staff Course (2010) and was previously
Principal Private Secretary to the Secretary of State for International
Development (2008-9).
Away from work, Matt is an avid England rugby fan (although he
refuses to admit his own playing days are long over). He is also a keen
mountaineer and skier and, together with Caroline, was part of a team
that raced to the Magnetic North Pole in 2005. These days he is more
likely to be found teaching his children how to swim and build