France on Wednesday pledged to give one million euros ($1.3 million) to help the poorest of the hundreds of thousands of people in southern Somalia forced from their homes by war and famine.
The aid will enable the International Organization for Migration to put in place a year-long support programme for the displaced and those sheltering them, the IOM said in a statement.
“With this donation, IOM in Somalia is now able to establish border health posts on the Somali-Kenyan and Somali-Ethiopian borders… to service these very vulnerable migrant populations,” said IOM Somalia chief Ali Abdi.
“The current positive trends in Somalia, both the political process and the security situation, must be seized upon now and make us prepare, together with the Government of Somalia, the appropriate and acceptable conditions for the long-term stabilisation of the country,” said Etienne de Poncins, the French ambassador to Kenya, where the deal was signed.
War-torn Somalia has not had an effective central government since the fall of President Mohamed Siad Barre in 1991. However, a new administration took office last year, ending eight years of transitional rule by a corruption-riddled government.
In recent months, a 17,000-strong African Union force, fighting alongside government troops and Ethiopian soldiers, have wrested a string of key towns from the country’s Islamist Shebab insurgents.
The number of displaced people in Somalia, a country of nine million people, is estimated at 1.5 million. A million refugees have also fled the country.