Page last updated at 14:59 GMT, Thursday, 23 April 2009 15:59 UK

Funds to boost Somalia security

al-Shabaab fighters
Al-Shabab militia wage daily battles against the transitional government

International donors have pledged more than $250m (£172m) to boost security in Somalia, an EU official says.

Louis Michel, the EU commissioner for aid and development, declared the Brussels conference a "full success", saying it had reached its target.

The money is to help Somalia build up its security forces, fight piracy, and restore order on land and sea.

The European Commission promised to provide about a quarter of the promised funds.

Piracy is not a water-borne disease. It is a symptom of anarchy and insecurity on the ground
Ban Ki-moon
UN Secretary General

The conference, which was chaired by UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon and the African Union, was held against the background of rampant piracy off the coast of Somalia.

But the UN chief said that aid was needed to restore security and stability in a state which has had no central government since 1991 and is mired in conflict.

"Piracy is not a water-borne disease. It is a symptom of anarchy and insecurity on the ground," he said.

"Dealing with it requires an integrated strategy that addresses the fundamental issue of lawlessness in Somalia."

More than one million people have been made homeless by fighting in the past two years and one-third of the population depends on food aid to survive.

Sheikh Sharif Sheikh Ahmed, the moderate Islamist who became president earlier this year after UN-brokered peace talks, said the aim is to build up a 10,000-strong police force and a 6,000-strong national security force, arguing that this could help to contain the piracy.

Javier Solana: 'Money is not going to be given without control'

Key speakers suggested that the prospects for Somalia could be improving under the new government, but it enjoys little practical authority at present, says BBC's world affairs correspondent Mike Wooldridge.

The radical Islamist al-Shabab group, which has links to al-Qaeda, operates freely in much of the capital, Mogadishu and most of south and central areas of the country.

It stages frequent attacks on pro-government forces in Mogadishu and elsewhere.

When first loaded, the map's focus falls on Somalia where most of the pirates are based. Use the arrow icons to scroll left towards Europe and the United States which are both playing a central role in tackling the problem.

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