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Somalia seeks help making itself stronger

By Li Lianxing (China Daily)

13:32, December 26, 2011

BEIJING - China's escort mission in the Gulf of Aden has positively "hacked" at piracy and has "contributed a lot to regional stability", says Somalia's ambassador to Beijing.

Now more international efforts are needed to build peace and stability in Somalia so it can eliminate the piracy that started inland in his country, Yusuf Hassan Ibrahim told China Daily in an exclusive interview.

China and Somalia enjoy a long, historic friendship and shared great achievements, he said.

"It was a pity that some economic cooperation was stopped due to the outbreak of the civil war in the 1990s. Now we have great potential in resuming and expanding the relationship. Safe passage at sea could greatly enhance the ties," he said, and could give Somalia more opportunities to resume its economy.

The ambassador said Somalia itself has benefited little from the three years of escort missions, given the turbulence at home. "It is only the countries these ships belong to that benefit from the escort mission. Somalia is fighting piracy for its reputation and international responsibility."

But his government is weak, he said.

"Since the collapse of the government 20 years ago, Somalia is incapable of fighting piracy. Then it is the responsibility of other countries to help the weaker ones, to stop piracy in this particular case."

Foreign navies can't operate legally in Somalia's territorial waters, and Ibrahim said the escort missions alone can't eliminate piracy. "It's just an emergency method . . . A better solution is to help establish peace and stability in Somalia. The real remedy is to help the Somalia government."

The priority for his country's current government is to ensure domestic security, he said. He called for international help in setting up coastal forces so his country can guarantee peaceful passage in the gulf.

"We need the full support of China and other countries . . . Technology, operation and training support from other countries is vital to establishing our own coast guard," Ibrahim said.

"The only legitimate, efficient and the cheapest way to fight the pirates is by Somalia's government itself."


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