The U.S. has an ambassador to Somalia for the first time in 25 years - Bring Me The News

The U.S. has an ambassador to Somalia for the first time in 25 years

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For the first time in a quarter of a century, the U.S. has an ambassador to Somalia.

Stephen Schwartz was sworn in this week after being appointed by President Barack Obama in January and approved by the Senate in May.

The U.S. pulled its diplomatic presence and forces out of Somalia in 1993 at the beginning of its Civil War, according to Shabelle News.

Since there is no longer a U.S. embassy building in Somalia, Schwartz will work out of neighboring Kenya, says WBFO.

Executive Director Mohamud Noor of the Confederation of Somali Community in Minnesota told BringMeTheNews on Wednesday he hopes an embassy will soon be reestablished in the capital of Mogadishu.

The Minnesota takeaway

Somalis are one of the major ethnic groups in Minnesota. According to the latest population census, one in every three Somalis that immigrate to the U.S. settle here. There are at least 25,000 people with Somali ancestry in Minnesota, says MPR News.

The Minneapolis based Confederation of Somali Community in Minnesota has been working to successfully integrate Somali immigrants while keeping their culture since 1994.

Noor says he's excited about Schwartz's new position.

"We're grateful President Obama appointed an ambassador to Somalia at this critical juncture," he told BringMeTheNews. "Somalis in Minnesota are looking forward to free and fair elections this year, and a stronger relationship between the United States and Somalia will help promote stability and security."

What does an ambassador actually do?

Also known as diplomats, ambassadors serve as a representative between two countries. According to the Vienna Convention of Diplomatic Relations, an ambassador's purposes are to protect citizens, support prosperity and work for peace. They are also expected to attend certain international meetings and banquets.

Schwartz has already made clear that he will be supporting the growth of Somali security forces to defeat Al Shabaab, a jihadist terrorist group.

"It is the right time for Somali leaders to think about building of [sic] strong united Somali security apparatus that is capable of responding to threats and leading the fight against armed group Al Shabaab," he said, according to AllAfrica.

He also hopes to build more facilities and establish an effective presence in the country, he said in an interview with WBFO.

Schwartz has served in various diplomatic capacities in several countries including Kenya, Burundi, and Ethiopia, New Zealand, and Zambia says Goobjoog News.

Related

Islamic center threatens to close Wells Fargo accounts if bank doesn't resume transfers to Somalia

The director of an Islamic center in Minneapolis says members will close their accounts on May 1 if Wells Fargo doesn't reopen money transfers to the war-torn country, where many Somalis rely on money from friends and family in the United States. The bank decided to shut down transfers to Somalia in 2008. "Really, all I can say is that it was a business decision that was made," a bank spokeswoman tells the Minnesota Daily.

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