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Rajat Dubey asked: What is the approach and contribution of India towards fighting humanitarian crisis in Somalia?

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  • Ruchita Beri replies: India recognises Somalia as a neighbour across the Indian Ocean and is in favour of an early resolution of the humanitarian crisis in the country. Towards this end, it supports all the initiatives led by the United Nations (UN) for return of peace and stability in Somalia. India also recognises that the piracy in the Gulf of Aden is rooted in the instability in Somalia.

    In terms of efforts towards conflict resolution, India in the past has been involved in the UN peacekeeping missions in Somalia. During 1993-94, a large group of Indian peacekeepers, led by Brigadier M. P. Bhagat, had participated in the UN Operation in Somalia (UNOSOM) II. At the last India Africa Forum Summit, held in Addis Ababa in April 2011, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh announced a contribution of $2 million towards augmentation of the African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM). Moreover, the Indian Navy has been involved in anti-piracy patrolling in the Gulf of Aden since 2008.

    In recent years, India has provided developmental and humanitarian assistance to Somalia. India has extended assistance to Somalia in capacity building through human resource development, and has recently increased the number of scholarships to the country. Somalia is also among the partner countries of Pan-African e-network project, a joint initiative of India and the African Union. This project aims at connecting 10,000 African students in 54 countries across the continent with Indian universities. At the same time, the Pan-African e-network would provide for tele-medicine services through consultations of African medical practitioners with their counter parts in India. In addition, in September 2011, India announced a contribution of US$ 8 million towards humanitarian assistance for countries in the Horn of Africa region (Somalia, Kenya and Djibouti) to be distributed through the UN World Food Programme.