Cablegate: Somalia - Nomination for Secretary's Award for Internatonal


DE RUEHNR #2530/01 3451434
O R 111433Z DEC 09




E.O. 12958: N/A

REF: 07 STATE 116686

1. (U) The Embassy Nairobi's Somalia Unit respectfully nominates
the late Somalia Minister Dr. Qamar Aden Ali for the 2010 Secretary
of State's Award for International Women of Courage. Until her
death on December 3, 2009, at the hands of a suicide bomber in
Mogadishu, Dr. Ali was the Minister of Health for the Transitional
Federal Government (TFG) of Somalia. The selection of Dr. Ali
would be a tribute to her undeniable courage, and would demonstrate
the USG's resolve to support the beleaguered TFG in Somalia.

2. (U) Dr. Qamar Aden Ali was murdered on December 3, 2009, along
with two other ministers, both males, as well as several medical
professionals and students, journalists, and bystanders when a
suicide bomber detonated himself at a graduation ceremony for
Somali medical students at Banadir University in Mogadishu. The
ceremony was honoring students who, in spite of the daily violence
of Mogadishu, had persevered and were being awarded undergraduate
degrees in medicine. Many of the students had earned scholarships
to continue their studies outside of Somalia, after which they
planned to return to Somalia to practice medicine.

3. (U) Qamar Aden Ali, of the Dir/Surre subclan, was born in
Beledweyne, Somalia, in 1955. A lawyer and a Political Scientist
by training, she graduated from Gaheyr Law College (Somali National
University) in Mogadishu in 1982, then earned graduate degrees in
East Germany. Upon the collapse of the Siad Barre regime in 1991,
she settled in the United Kingdom, where she was involved with
local Somali community associations and civil society groups. Dr.
Ali returned to Somalia in the late 1990s and entered the Somali
political scene. She actively participated in the 2002-2004
Kenya-sponsored Somalia Reconciliation Conference, and secured a
seat in the Transitional Federal Parliament. From 2005 - 2007, she
was TFG Minister of Health. She re-joined the cabinet after the
2008 Djibouti peace conference, again as Minister of Health. Ms.
Ali is survived by two children.

4. (U) Multiple organizations have praised Dr. Ali for her
unwavering dedication to the Somali people as Minister of Health,
citing her as one of the most active ministers in the TFG. She
voluntarily left a comfortable life in the United Kingdom to return
to her homeland in order to work for better conditions for all
Somalis. A high-level UN official has speculated that Dr. Ali was
in fact the target of the bomb as a result of her activism and
effectiveness, which the official said was seen by the extremists
as a threat to their efforts to perpetuate instability in Somalia,
and also cripple the TFG.

5. (U) Dr. Ali also worked hard to forge bonds among Somalia's
feuding regions. She worked tirelessly to coordinate her
activities with the Health Ministers of Somaliland and Puntland.
Her far-sighted, pan-Somali approach was in sharp contrast to the
work of many others, both in the TFG and in the regions.

6. (U) A prominent civil society figure said Dr. Ali was "not only
visionary in where her ministry should be in a given time but she
was also making real time impact on people's lives." He cited her
initiative to establish a blood bank and her focus on child and
maternal health - even in a country engulfed in war - as examples
of her dedication to her work. The civil society figure said that,
"Whenever there was political wrangling, she did not want to be
part of it. You could in fact see the disappointment in her face.
She spent most of her time at hospitals and with doctors but
whenever at a meeting, you could count on her to present ideas,"
and to make a difference. He concluded, "She was inspirational.
Somalia lost a capable and a courageous leader."

7. (U) Dr. Marthe Everard, the World Health Organization (WHO)
Representative for Somalia, described how Dr. Ali introduced
herself by saying: "I am a doctor too, but not a medical doctor but
a doctor in law." Everard said Ali was bright, courageous, and
active in advocating "health as a bridge to peace." She said
during a meeting in Mogadishu on September 16, 2009: "I strongly
believe that good health and equity in access to health services
can be an entry point for lasting peace in Somalia." In her
address during the tragic December 3 graduation ceremony, Dr. Ali
proudly hoped that "this class of medical graduates will be the
basis for re-establishment of the health system in Somalia; they
will be absorbed by the Ministry of Health" and will treat the sick
in Somalia.

believe that good health and equity in access to health services
can be an entry point for lasting peace in Somalia." In her
address during the tragic December 3 graduation ceremony, Dr. Ali
proudly hoped that "this class of medical graduates will be the
basis for re-establishment of the health system in Somalia; they
will be absorbed by the Ministry of Health" and will treat the sick
in Somalia.

8. (U) A WHO statement after the bombing said that, "Dr. Ali was a
tireless, energetic and influential advocate for health in Somalia
who was determined to improve health standards and care for her
fellow Somalis. Dr. Ali worked very closely with the World Health
Organization and was a strong supporter of WHO's activities to
strengthen the country's health system." The statement pointed out
that the attack targeted a ceremony for medical students graduating
from Banadir University, a teaching institution that is training
Somalis to be able to provide healthcare for the millions of
Somalis suffering from decades of humanitarian crisis.

9. (U) We understand that there is no precedent for the
posthumously conferring of an International Women of Courage award.
Making an exception in Ms. Ali's case would pay tribute to her
courage. Her courage was recognized by the TFG, which named a new
school after Dr. Ali after her death. A posthumous award would
also highlight the extremely dangerous conditions in which the
struggling TFG must work, as well as the destructive role that the
terrorist group al-Shabaab is playing in Somalia. We strongly urge
that the Department acknowledge Dr. Ali's undeniable courage by
conferring this posthumous award.

10. (U) Point of contact for this nomination is Public Affairs
Officer for Somalia Mark Zimmer,, TEL:

© Scoop Media

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