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Dear Somalia, more details please. Love, Donors

Dear Somalia, more details please. Love, Donors

The pledged $213 million for Somalia from Donors at a Brussels conference yesterday is a little short on details. Actually, it’s devoid of details. The $213 million are meant to improve the country’s flailing security apparatus, and boost a beleaguered African Union peacekeeping mission, AMISOM, from its current 4,300 personnel to a larger 8,000.

But all this raises some questions in my mind: 

1) How much of the money will actually come? Donors conferences are notorious for over-pledging and under-delivering. Already, $213 million is… peanuts in the scheme of things. For some perspective,  the Iraq war was estimated to cost about that much every DAY back in 2006.

2) Who gets the money? Presumably, the pledges will go through the new government, headed by President Sheikh Sharif. Presumably, tracing money through the bare-bones government created just months ago will be something of a challenge.

3) The money is set to be used to build up the existing Somali security force. But does a Somali Security service even exist? Many soldiers abandoned their posts after Ethiopian troops had trained them (but later failed to pay them) last year. So… how many soldiers are left? And will security — rather than street-power by gun — be their priority?

4) The money is also meant to boost an African Union peacekeeping force by another 4,000 or so troops. Sounds great, but where do they plan on finding those personnel? Countries in the region have been understandably loathe about sending their soldiers into a situation that carries a death wish. 

5) And finally, do the donors really care about anything other than pirates? Off the record of the formal conference conversations, it was piracy on the lips of the diplomats. If that’s the case, the Somali government will find it hard to do much else with the money. Even something arguably useful like, say, paying their civil servants.

If we’re serious about combatting pirates on land, this package looks a bit ridiculous. Unless, of course, there’s something I’m missing. Dear Somalia, please help me out and send details.