We have a lot to learn from Rwanda - Somali minister

KIGALI - The Rwandan experience is a source of inspiration in rebuilding and bringing peace back to our conflict-torn country, a Somalian Minister said yesterday. Zahra Samantar, the Somali Minister of Women Affairs and Human Rights, made the remarks during the opening of an AMISOM roundtable on Enhancing Respect of International Humanitarian Law.
Hon Zahra Samantar( L) the Somalian Minister for Women Affairs and Human Rights chats with Louise Mushikiwabo of Foreign Affairs at the meeting, yesterday. (Photo T.Kisambira)
Hon Zahra Samantar( L) the Somalian Minister for Women Affairs and Human Rights chats with Louise Mushikiwabo of Foreign Affairs at the meeting, yesterday. (Photo T.Kisambira)

KIGALI - The Rwandan experience is a source of inspiration in rebuilding and bringing peace back to our conflict-torn country, a Somalian Minister said yesterday.

Zahra Samantar, the Somali Minister of Women Affairs and Human Rights, made the remarks during the opening of an AMISOM roundtable on Enhancing Respect of International Humanitarian Law.

The meeting is taking place in Kigali.

AMISOM is an active regional peacekeeping mission in war-torn Somalia operated by the African Union with the approval of the United Nations.

Located in the Horn of Africa, Somalia has been engulfed by civil unrest for over two decades now, with no central government control over most of the country's territory.

“I pray that the Somali people look up to what the Rwandan people went through and learn how they managed to overcome what they went through,” Samantar appealed.

She urged her compatriots to emulate the Rwandan reconciliation drive and move forward to build their country.

Samantar made it clear that though there is need for the international community intervention to bring her country back to its feet. She added that the issues in Somalia can only be solved if the nationals themselves personalise their problems.

“I would like to remind Somalis in the Diaspora and inside the country that this is our problem. We need to stand up and work with the international community to solve it.”

The Minister said that the Human Rights violations in Somalia are because the country became a no man’s land and looks like it has been forgotten. She called on the world to do more to avert the suffering her people are going through.

She, however, testified that the Alshabaab, an Islamist insurgent group responsible for much of the instability, is weakening and more efforts by all stakeholders are capable of stumping it out completely.

In her speech, the Minister of Foreign Affairs, Louise Mushikiwabo, who opened the forum thanked the African Union for its role in the normalization of Somalia.

“The government of Rwanda appreciates the increasing role of the AU in lifting up African countries and upholding Human Rights,” she said.

Mushikiwabo added that the Rwandan people are committed to accompanying Somali people in the difficult journey they have embarked on, and are ready to work with all the other stakeholders to make sure that the Somali people get a normal life.

She urged the delegates at the meeting to address real issues. “We are not here to discuss treaties and commitments but we are here to make sure that we protect human rights,” she said, urging the Rwandan participants to share their stories.

The three-day roundtable expects to underline the African Union and AMISOM efforts at enhancing the respect of International Humanitarian Law in Somalia among other issues.

Participants include; the African Union special representative and Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD) facilitator, Somalia Transitional Federal Government (TGF), Government of Burundi, Government of Uganda, International and local Human Rights organisations among others.

Burundi and Uganda are the only troop-contributing nations to AMISOM.

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