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Somalia: For once, some optimism

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But in opening the London conference, British Prime Minister David Cameron called on the international community to abandon its past fatalism.

"That fatalism has failed Somalia. And it has failed the international community too. Today we have an unprecedented opportunity to change that," Reuters quoted Mr. Cameron as saying in his opening speech. "These problems in Somalia don't just affect Somalia. They affect us all. In a country where there is no hope, chaos, violence and terrorism thrive. Pirates are disrupting vital trade routes and kidnapping tourists."

In military terms, there are definite signs of progress. Pro-government troops have pushed Al Shabab into retreat. In humanitarian terms, the picture is more mixed. Aid supplies are flowing into areas taken away from Al Shabab, but fighting has sent tens of thousands of families from their homes, adding to an overall 1.5 million population of displaced Somalis.

 AU forces under the African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM) have pushed Al Shabab forces out of Mogadishu entirely, allowing Somali citizens to return to their homes and allowing the government enough security within the city to start providing government services such as policing, schooling, and sanitation services that have been missing for decades.

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