February 2, 2023

US Ambassador Larry André hopes for change in Somalia as rampant terrorism threatens progress

US Ambassador to Somalia Larry André
US Ambassador to Somalia Larry André

Larry André has been serving as the United States’ Ambassador to Somalia since presenting his credentials to Somali President Hassan Sheikh Mohamud on February 7, 2022.

“He is eager to work in partnership with the Somali people and their state and federal governments to advance our shared objective of Somalia’s revival as a secure, prosperous, and democratic nation,” said a statement from the US Embassy in Somalia upon André’s arrival.

Over three decades since the Somali state collapse of 1991, the nation continues to find itself in the midst of violent ongoing conflict. “Civilians in Somalia continue to bear the brunt of violations of international humanitarian law – some amounting to war crimes,” reports Human Rights Watch.

In 2022, Freedom House gave Somalia a total freedom score of just 7 out of 100 which places it amongst the lowest scoring countries in the world. Amnesty International reports that last year, “All parties to the armed conflict carried out indiscriminate attacks killing hundreds of civilians.”

In May, the Biden administration announced plans to redeploy several hundred American troops to Somalia after former President Donald Trump withdrew troops from the country. Somali President Hassan Sheikh Mohamud has communicated that he is supportive of the decision.

For decades, Somalia has struggled to establish a functioning state and civilians have been subjected to oppression and regular attacks. The most vulnerable people have been devastated by the ongoing violence, including women and children.

In 2021, Vision of Humanity scored Somalia as third most impacted by terrorism of any country in the world, behind just Afghansitan and Iraq.

If Somalia is to work toward establishing a legitimate democratic federal government with respect for human rights, the United States could be a vital partner in doing so. Therefore, Ambassador Larry André’s role as the top US diplomat to Somalia is a great responsibility.

Ambassador André has served as a diplomat for over three decades and has worked in a variety of capacities. Recently, he served as the US Ambassador to Djibouti. He has also served at US embassies in Tanzania, Kenya, Sierra Leone, Guinea, Ethiopia, and several other nations. Prior to joining the Foreign Service, André served as a Peace Corps Volunteer in Senegal and worked in Chad on a refugee resettlement project.

He holds a Master’s degree from the Thunderbird School of Global Management and a Bachelor’s degree in Political Science from Claremont McKenna College.

“The people of Somalia and their neighbors are attacked regularly by al Qaeda’s East Africa branch, al-Shabaab. There is a smaller ISIS-Somalia presence in the north. Both international terrorist networks threaten our interests in the region and aspire to attack our country,” said André in a 2021 hearing before the US Senate Committee on Foreign Relations.

“I will continue the work of Ambassador Yamamoto to bring to bear the full range of tools to help Somalis defend themselves and rid their country of terrorism,” he continued.

“U.S. foreign policy objectives in Somalia are to promote political and economic stability, prevent the use of Somalia as a safe haven for international terrorism, and alleviate the humanitarian crisis caused by years of conflict, drought, flooding, and poor governance,” says the US State Department of the relationship between the two nations.

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