While global attention is focused on Somalia, the self-declared republic of Somaliland has been independent for 20 years without recognition by the international community.
This lack of recognition is an injustice to Somalilanders
Hanna, not her real name, born in 1992 in New Hargaysa the Somaliland capital celebrated her 20th birthday last 18 May, the Independence Day. Twenty years after independence, little has changed in her life. Because her country, Somaliland, neither has real independence nor unity with Somalia, nor effective administration to deliver basic necessities let alone guaranteeing better life for her. Fleeing from the abject poverty and President Silanyo’s government’s indifference towards the painful suffering of the people as well as the international blockade in the form of denial of recognition by the international community, Hanna perished in the Mediteranian Sea unnoticed trying to reach to Europe.
The exodus of youngsters aged 18-29 years, of both genders, in attempted escape from hellish conditions back home often turns their journey more or less into mass suicide. But due to inherent uncertainty, many of Hanna’s peers worry more about the future and the risky voyage to Europe is the pnly option that always comes to mind.
Somalilanders are law-abiding citizens who think the international laws are based on a concrete basis of conviction and justice. They prevented terror from ithe region and eliminated piracy from their seashore. According to an Aljazeera program , “pirates set up some sort of stock exchange for their companies that has drawn investment from Somali diaspora and other nations. They started 15 maritime companies and now are hosting 75, not in the capital of Mogadishu but Harardhere Stock Exchange making piracy a community activities. One piracy investor contributed a rocket propeller grenade from her ex-husband’s alimony and has made $75,000 in only 38 days. The growing demand and mounting risks pushed ransom from $2 million to $4 million to satisfy the rising number of shareholders. In the process, the piracy stock exchange has transformed the once small fishing village into a bustling town that earns a percentage of every ransom to be used on infrastructure including hospitals and public schools”. Somalis are doing everything they can to survive or to make money. Why not we? But we uphold the national and international laws and yet there is no appreciation.
Somaliland and Somalia joined together in 1960 as two independent countries. Somalilanders were unable to grasp how the world was led to believe Somaliland was seceding rather than restoring its sovereignty from Somalia, and thus becoming a liability on the region encouraging balkanization of African states. But this is not true. Somaliland is an indispensable factor for the stability of the whole region since 1991 by providing firm intelligence to war on terror.
President John F. Kennedy’s inaugural speech, ‘We pay any price, bear any burden, meet any hardship, support any friend, oppose any foe to assure the survival and success of liberty’ seems to be failing if not obsolete since the Obama administration is reluctant to extend assistance to hapless people of Somaliland.
The absence of recognition of Somaliland threatens the lives of ordinary nationals because its subsequent economic hardships have led to dramatic exodus of Somalilanders to EU over the past 10 years. Imagine living in a country without formal recognition and without Taiwan’s resources. However, still there’s cause for optimism. The Wikileaks revealed how Ethiopia’s late Prime Minister Melez was lobbying for Interim Status and had suggested Djibouti should recognize Somaliland.
The world, however, felt compelled to talk about the international isolation upon Somaliland people and its urgency to break. No one can morally justify the unwarranted suffering of so many innocent Somalilanders whose lives have been shackled and devastated by the inadvertent embargo. More recently, Prime Minister David Cameroon of the UK spoke out and called Somalia and Somaliland to have ‘exit’ dialogue about their future relations. The little unrecognized country took center stage globally as The New York Times posted a startling, fascinating news article ‘The World’s Next State’.
The world has moral obligation to save the fleeing masses by changing its attitude towards democratic Somaliland.
* Dirye is Somaliland activist and senior editor at the Democracy Chronicles Africa’s News Edition, firstname.lastname@example.org