Somalia’s prime minister formally apologised to the UAE on Friday for the seizure of an aid plane in 2018.
Somalian security forces detained the plane carrying UAE aid at Mogadishu airport in April 2018. The aircraft was later allowed to leave, but $9.6 million in cash was confiscated.
On Friday, Mohamed Hussein Roble confirmed the plane had been carrying financial aid to the Somalian government and pledged to return the money “as soon as possible” in a statement shared on Twitter.
“The prime minister affirmed that the Somalian government is determined to strengthen the brotherly relations between the two countries in all political, economic and social aspects, reiterating his thanks and gratitude to the UAE leadership and people for its continuous support to the Somali people,” the statement read.
At the time, diplomatic adviser to President Sheikh Khalifa and former Minister of State for Foreign Affairs Dr Anwar Gargash said the UAE was sending the money to back efforts to counter extremism in Somalia, where Al Shabab militants launch regular attacks on civilians and government forces.
Mr Roble did not say when the money would be repaid. The UAE has yet to respond to the apology.
Also on Friday, Somalia received an aid shipment from the UAE to assist with the country’s current drought. Mr Roble thanked the UAE for its generosity.
The UN estimates the drought is affecting about 2.3 million people and has forced more than 100,000 from their homes in search of food and water.
Somalia’s Federal Minister of Humanitarian Affairs and Disaster Management Khadija Diriye said the loss of livestock was having a huge impact.
“I am particularly worried about children, women, the elderly and disabled people who continue to bear the brunt of Somalia’s humanitarian crisis,” she said.