British Prime Minister David Cameron said on Thursday that a failure to end Somalia's chaos will endanger international security, and the time is right for the outside world to help the failed state get back on its feet.
Opening a conference on ending two decades of anarchy in Somalia, Cameron said outside engagement in the country had been half-hearted because few people believed foreign powers could do anything to make a difference.
"That fatalism has failed Somalia. And it has failed the international community too. Today we have an unprecedented opportunity to change that," he told a gathering including heads of state and government from Africa and Arab states.
"These problems in Somalia don't just affect Somalia. They affect us all. In a country where there is no hope, chaos, violence and terrorism thrive. Pirates are disrupting vital trade routes and kidnapping tourists," said Cameron.
Somalia is plagued by factional and clan feuding, much of the country is controlled by Islamist rebels and pirates are seizing ships in the Indian Ocean and Gulf of Aden, holding the crews until they receive a ransom.
"Young minds are being poisoned by radicalism, breeding terrorism that is threatening the security of the whole world. If the rest of us just sit back and look on, we will pay a price for doing so," said Cameron.
Cameron announced a number of aid and development initiatives including a proposal to set up an international taskforce on ransoms, the main tactic used by pirates.
"Let's set the ultimate ambition of stopping these payments because in the end they only ensure that crime pays," he said.
The meeting's UK organisers have tried to temper expectations, explaining that the aim of the event is to galvanise policymakers' attention on Somalia to coordinate better a sometimes disjointed international response.
Nevertheless, Somalis who have known little but war, famine and blunder-prone international intervention for decades cannot help but hope for something that will improve their lives.
"The expectations that Somalis have are huge," Mogadishu-based civic activist Jabril Ibrahim Abdulle of Somalia's Center for Research and Dialogue think tank told Reuters.
"You have so many external actors driving different agendas that it would be a success to have a unified stance. Above all we need implementation of what's agreed, as disappointed hopes will only bring more radicalisation and hostility."