Last year, the UN warned that more than 755,000 people have been internally displaced in Somalia because of the country’s severe drought.
Somalia’s Prime Minister Hamza Abdi Barre landed in Qatar on Monday for a five-day visit where he is scheduled to meet with top officials in a bid to expand ties between Doha and Mogadishu across multiple fields.
The Somali diplomat is expected to meet with Qatar’s Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs Sheikh Mohammed bin Abdulrahman Al Thani and a delegation of Qatari businessmen.
Reports published ahead of Barre’s arrival said Qatar and Somalia will also sign a number of agreements on investments in Mogadishu.
In May, Somalia’s President Hassan Sheikh Mohamud travelled to Doha for an official visit where he met with Qatar’s Amir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani. Discussions at the time were centred on political developments on the ground in Somalia.
Speaking to Doha News at the time, Somalia’s Deputy Prime Minister Salah Jama noted that Qatar’s leadership in conflict resolution and peace-building could significantly assist Somalia’s pursuit of peace and stability.
“Qatar can play a very significant role in our pursuit of peace and stability, economic growth, and political agreements and settlements,” he told Doha News during his visit to the Gulf state.
The small Gulf nation assumed a major diplomatic role in 2021 during reconciliation between Kenya and Somalia, which occurred following a dispute that saw the latter accuse Nairobi of interfering in its internal affairs.
Meanwhile, in June, Qatar renewed its support for all peace efforts in Somalia by hosting a five-party meeting on the country’s situation in Doha.
Officials from Somalia, the United States, the United Kingdom, the United Arab Emirates and Turkiye had attended the meeting in the Qatari capital, chaired by Qatar’s Minister of State for International Cooperation at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs Lolwah Al Khater.
Washington had hosted a previous meeting on the issue, in which officials from the quintet “discussed how to better support Somalia’s fight against Al-Shabaab and prepare for the African Union Transition Mission in Somalia drawdown”.
Translating to ‘The Youth’ in Arabic, Al Shabaab first emerged as the extremist youth wing of the now-defunct Union of Islamic Courts in Somalia, which ruled Mogadishu in 2006 before Ethiopian forces drove them out.
Al-Shabaab holds connections to other militant groups in Africa, including Boko Haram in Nigeria, and Al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb, which is based in the Sahara desert.
The group seeks to overthrow the central government of Somalia and install its own system of governance based on a strict application of Islamic law, also known as sharia.
Protracted humanitarian crisis
Aside from its diplomatic efforts, Qatar has played key humanitarian efforts on the ground in Somalia as it continues to grapple with a worsening situation that has been exacerbated by drought.
Qatar joined efforts with the US and the UK to launch a $10.5 million drought assistance aid to Somalia in June. The major donation allowed the Building Resilient Communities in Somalia (BRCiS) consortium to continue providing life-saving services in the crisis-hit country.
The crucial Qatari donation came amid growing international calls for humanitarian assistance, as more than 500,000 children under the age of five in Somalia continue to face high risk of death or severe malnourishment.
Somalia’s worsening drought has continued to drive out thousands of civilians to neighbouring areas. This year’s dry season is the worst in 40 years, with more fears over a rise in famine and displacement.
Last year, the UN warned that more than 755,000 people have been internally displaced in Somalia because of the country’s severe drought, raising the total to one million since January 2021.
The intergovernmental agency had described the Somali refugee situation as “a protracted refugee” crisis.
“The Somali refugee crisis is one of the most challenging mass displacement situations in the world. Over the last 30 years, hundreds of thousands of people have fled Somalia due to political instability and a dangerous civil war that broke out in the 1990s,” the UN said in July.