Recent Somalia attack ‘will only strengthen UAE’s support’

The recent attack in Somalia is not going to deter UAE aid, said Ahmed Al Attar of the Abu Dhabi think tank the Delma Institute.

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ABU DHABI // The attack on the UAE’s humanitarian convoy in Somalia on Wednesday will only strengthen the Emirates’ will to support peace and stability in the region, security experts said.

“This incident is not going to deter the UAE from being active in the humanitarian field, where it has been active in the past few decades,” said Ahmed Al Attar, assistant director of defence and security at the Delma Institute, a think tank in Abu Dhabi.

“Humanitarian work is one of the key pillars of the UAE’s foreign policy. Diplomats who have to be out there engaged in such work take such risks so the name of the game is going to be lowering the risk for people working abroad and I am sure the UAE is actively investing in this.”

The UAE this week launched a humanitarian aid mission to provide relief to Somalia after the country was hit by extreme drought and famine in which hundreds perished. UN estimates say 360,000 children suffer acute malnutrition and are in desperate need of help.

A team from Emirates Red Crescent was travelling near the Somali capital when it came under attack. No casualties were reported.

The incident came two months after an attack in Kandahar on the UAE ambassador to Afghanistan, Juma Mohammed Abdullah Al Kaabi. Five aid workers were killed and Al Kaabi died in hospital a month later.

“Through the ERC and other organisations, the UAE has proven over time that it is serious, frank and willing to work in this field,” said Ahmed Al Dhaheri, director of the Zayed Charitable and Humanitarian Foundation and former member of the Federal National Council. Mr Al Dhaheri said working in such a field came with great responsibility.

“You give your time, money and sometimes your life to help refugees, those displaced or in a medical campaign,” he said. “Danger can also come from an armed conflict or sometimes from a disease.”

The charity assured humanitarians that it would not halt its activities abroad.

“The ERC is one of the most influential humanitarian organisations in this region and this won’t affect their activities,” said Toby Harward, head of the United Nations Human Rights Council office in Abu Dhabi.

Dr Albadr Al Shateri, politics professor at the National Defence College, said the humanitarian aid to Somalia was part of the UAE’s overarching strategy to stabilise and secure the region. “The UAE is determined to put out fires of the region the attack will only strengthen the UAE’s resolve to fight the scourge of terrorism,” he said.