Trócaire has worked in Somalia since 1992 and it is one of the most difficult situations we have ever faced. Ireland has a special connection with Somalia since former President Mary Robinson visited there in 1992 and highlighted the appalling suffering people were facing during the famine that year.
We are still working in Somalia supporting food programmes, education and healthcare, but almost 25 years later people in Somalia are on the brink of another famine. Why? And what is the solution?
Trócaire, NUI Galway and the Irish Research Council brought humanitarian workers, academic experts and the Irish/Somali community together ask that question.
"In Somalia the generations for the future that we are relying on are not getting an education. What kind of children for future leadership are we expecting when we cannot equip our children to get the quality education that they deserve?"
Nurah, Trócaire volunteer in Cork
"What sparked it for us in NUI Galway is looking at the refugee situation and the war in Syria. Last summer we asked ourselves what can we do about this? As historians what can we contribute?
So we decided to look at Somalia, and learn from the past to project into the future. It's about thinking backwards to see what worked and what didn't and take it forward into your own work.
Historians focus on context and the past. Humanitarian agencies and NGOs focus on what do we do now. What is needed for the future. So I think bringing that thinking together could bring new knowledge to these humanitarian crises around the world."
Dr Kevin O'Sullivan, History School of Humanities, NUI Galway
"If I look at the famine in Somalia in 2011 and I look at the drought-crisis now. How much as changed? The big thing that has really worked for Trócaire in Somalia is that we worked on long-term programmes. So we have that constant presence. It gives us a credibilty with communities because the know we stay. We are the most dependble. 1 year funding for chronic situation is a band-aid solution. It's so important to build local people's resiliance. So much of the approach in Somalia has all been short-term which creates today's situation."
Rosemary Heenan, former Trócaire East Africa Regional Manager
Somalia has been neglected and abused at political and international level for decades. This conference highlighted what has been learned about Somalia over 25 years so that leaders and policy makers can stop re-creating past mistakes, find new solutions.
Thanks to support from Ireland thousands of Somali families have received food, healthcare and education over the past 25 years. This support has saved countless lives and continues today.
Thanks to support from Ireland the people of Somalia are not alone and are not forgotten.