Somalia holds high-level conference on social inclusion

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Mogadishu, 28 March 2017 – A high-level conference to discuss ways of promoting the inclusion of minorities in the affairs of the country to help foster lasting peace and stability commenced today in the Somali capital, Mogadishu.

About 100 participants are attending the three-day conference. Funded by the Danish government, the conference is organized by the African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM) in partnership with the Ministry of Labor and Social Affairs.

The meeting was attended by the Speaker of the Federal Parliament of Somalia, Mohamed Osman Jawari, the Deputy Special Representative of the Chairperson of African Union Commission (DSRCC) for Somalia, Lydia Wanyoto, cabinet ministers, members of parliament, academics, traditional elders, and representatives of minority groups and civil society organizations. It discussed issues of social inclusion, poverty alleviation and minority rights.

Speaking at the opening ceremony, Speaker Jawari, denounced discrimination, terming it a chronic problem that has no place in religion, tradition and culture. He blamed the vice on ignorance and urged Somalis to be proactive in striving for inclusion to help foster peace and stability.

“You the people don’t have to wait for government to take action. It is you the people to ask the government and tell us what to do,” Speaker Jawari stated at the function and urged the civil society to pressure parliament to come up with strategies that foster inclusion and denounce discrimination.

DSRCC Lydia Wanyoto, echoed Jawari’s sentiments noting that Somalia is going through a phase many African countries have undergone adding that the country will eventually regain its glory. She noted that the conference, aimed at promoting social inclusion and reconciliation, comes at a time when AMISOM marks its 10-year anniversary, making significant contribution to peace and stability in the country after decades of war.

“With the support of AMISOM and the international partners, Somalia is supposed to work towards consolidation of peace, sustainable democratic institutions both at the national and local level,” the DSRCC Wanyoto stated, urging Somalia to effectively tackle clan politics to promote social cohesion and protect rights of minorities.

“The clan structure continues to exclude women and minority groups from significant political participation and employment; limits their access to justice where abuse has been perpetrated against them, denies them their right to development, education and sustainable livelihoods,” Ms. Wanyoto explained.

The former Deputy Mayor of Mogadishu, Mohamed Mohamud Tarsan, denounced discrimination and urged the participants to fight for their rights, which, he noted will not come on a silver platter.

“There has to be a real struggle, a real fight to achieve equality, economic empowerment and for the people to upgrade themselves,” the former Mogadishu Mayor explained.

The Chairperson of the Parliamentary Committee on Social Affairs, Ms. Maryan Aweys Jama, urged Somalis to fight discrimination, saying it had created conflict and disharmony among communities.

“In the world you can be a minority because of your language or location but you cannot be a minority because of your tribe and you should not be victimized because of your tribe as it is happening now,” Ms. Aweys cautioned.

According to organizers, the conference will provide the opportunity for Somali minority groups to highlight challenges they face in their effort to participate in nation building. The conference will also come up with a plan of action to combat social discrimination.

Source:Amosom /Somalia