UN Urges Protection for Civilians in Somalia.
JEDDAH, 2 May 2003 — The United Nations has urged Somali faction leaders to ensure that civilians are not displaced. Maxwell Gaylard, UN resident and humanitarian coordinator for Somalia, has expressed concern over the predicament of internally displaced people throughout Somalia.
SOMALIA: Interview with Somaliland Foreign Minister Edna Adan Ismail
Edna Adan Ismail
ADDIS ABABA, 24 Jun 2003 (IRIN) - Edna Adan Ismail is the foreign minister of the self-declared republic of Somaliland which is seeking international recognition as a separate independent state. On an official visit to Ethiopia - 12 days into her new job after being appointed Somaliland's first female minister - she tells IRIN about the quest for recognition.
QUESTION: Is Ethiopia ready to recognise Somaliland following your talks with the foreign minister Seyoum Mesfin?
ANSWER: Recognition is something that will take its natural course, but what we talked about were the bilateral relations of the two countries, the trade relations, and the common concern about security in the region. We discussed food aid coming in from the European Union through the port of Berbera, flowing freely without being looted, without military escort across Somaliland.
Q: But as your most important ally did he say in a year?s time we will recognise Somaliland?
A: That he did not say, but it has been said before that Ethiopia will not be the first to recognise us. But they certainly will not be the third.
Q: Who is going to be the first?
A: We think the smartest country will, because recognition of Somaliland is something that is bound to happen. The independence of Somaliland, in the fifties, came about as a result of mutual agreement and treaties, with pomp and pageantry, with signatures of documents. At that time when Somaliland gained its independence from Britain, 34 nations recognised Somaliland including the Security Council members of that time. We have never severed relations with any of those
countries so technically we are still recognised by 34 countries of the world. The problem now is our former partners, our Somali brothers, are in such disarray, such confusion that there is no way we can part like we did with Britain. Somaliland is not self-declared unless somebody is brave enough to tell me Britain does not exist.
Q: Why then won?t Britain recognise Somaliland?
A: I think probably I would attribute it to humility, stiff upper lip. I don?t know. Britain has not been as forceful as Italy has been to defend Somalia. And I think it may be because they are afraid it may be seen as nepotism. A former territory, supporting it blindly - whereas it may be seen as more credible if it is a country that has no links with Somaliland recognising it on its merits.
Q: Who in Africa are you targeting as the key countries?
A: We are looking at South Africa, Mozambique, Senegal, Uganda, Ethiopia, and many African countries. Most of them are very understanding, but many misinformed about how the emotional union of Somaliland and Somalia came about. It was never a domination of one country over the other; it was the union that came about because people wished to share a destiny.
Somaliland is the most senior of the two partners, the first born of two twins. It should have been triplets because Djibouti in 1977 opted not to join that union wisely. When the union, an emotional union that was never ratified, which never had benefited from legal documents being signed, between Somaliland and Somalia got into trouble and ended in a very long and hard civil war of 11 years, we closed our borders and got down to the hard task of rebuilding our country. On the other hand in Somalia regretfully they had destroyed their own country, their own cities, and it continues to disintegrate. It is very sad. We hope one day our brothers in Somalia will understand the wisdom of peace and stability so we can sit across the table and have a dialogue.
Q: Will you try and get those countries to pressure the African Union to recognise Somaliland?
A: I don?t think pressure - convince perhaps, inform perhaps. Somaliland is a bright example of what Africans can do with their own resources, determination and self-help. Somaliland held a referendum in May 2001 when 97 percent of our people opted for separation from Somalia. Now we have managed to build ourselves up, we can look for a headway because at the beginning we were very preoccupied with clearing our country of landmines, bringing our people home from refugee camps in Ethiopia.
Q: But the fear is that recognition will lead to the further disintegration of Somalia?
A: How much more disintegration can happen in Somalia? How many factions are there - 17? ... I don?t think Somaliland can be blamed for the disintegration of Somalia. They didn?t need Somaliland to help with their disintegration. I think the disintegration of Somalia has been caused by the funds pouring in from international taxpayers. Money has poured in and much has been looted to buy more guns and create more warlords. It has been a comedy. The world expects us to produce a divorce document when there has never been a marriage. It cannot be done. If Somaliland is recognised we will play a very major role in the reconciliation of the clans in Somalia. We know them better than anybody else.
Q: What is it like being the foreign minister of a country that is not recognised?
A: For me a sense of pride, a duty that gives me great honour to perform.
Q: But it must be very frustrating being a foreign minister that no-one recognises?
A: No way. I am proud of the achievements of my country, and I am proud to be the foreign minister of that great country that is Somaliland. We have achieved far more than other countries have. Look at Liberia, look at Zaire, look at Sierra Leone, and look at Ivory Coast. I would rather be the minister of foreign affairs of Somaliland than the minister of foreign affairs of some countries. I am proud of Somaliland.
Q: When will Somaliland be recognised?
A: I think 2003 is a good year. So many good things have happened in Somaliland. Recognition would be the icing on the cake. We are paying a heavy price for being peaceful. There is nothing sensational happening, there are no bodies of dead marines being dragged through the streets of Somaliland like there were in Mogadishu. There are no international troops to keep peace in Somaliland. We maintain our demobilisation and our peace ourselves. There are no foreigners kidnapped or no hijacks. Nothing sensational happens. It is just a very dull country that is getting on with its daily life, rebuilding.
?Throughout Somalia, displaced people often do not have access to even the most basic of social services, and many suffer violations of their human rights, including denial of access to basic services, and sexual violence against women and girls,? he said. The UN estimates that there are 350,000 displaced people throughout Somalia, most of them women and children. Of them, about 150,000 live in the capital Mogadishu, with another 15,000 in the southern port city of Kismayo, while the rest are scattered around the country.
Gaylard appealed to the Somali leaders to urgently reaffirm publicly their commitment and accountability for the protection of displaced people who are located in areas under their control. The letter stressed that the displaced persons? rights must not be violated. He warned that those committing such violations could, in future, be prosecuted by the International Criminal Tribunal.
SOMALIA: Former minister deported from Somaliland
Nairobi,Somalia May 02, 2003 -The prime minister of Somalia?s Transitional National Government (TNG), Hassan Abshir Farah, has denied that there is division within the TNG, newspaper reports said. However, he admitted that there are minor differences between himself and TNG President Abdi Qassim Salad Hassan.
NAIROBI, - A former interior minister and police chief of Somalia, who was detained by the authorities of the self-declared republic of Somaliland, was "deported" to Djibouti on Monday afternoon.
Somaliland Information Minister Abdullahi Muhammad Du'ale told IRIN on Tuesday the ex-minister, Gen Jama Muhammad Ghalib, had not been charged because he was in transit.
"It was decided that since he was claiming to be in transit not to prosecute him, but to deport him," Du'ale said.
Ghalib, who hails from Somaliland, is a delegate to the Somali peace talks currently under way in Kenya, and a vocal supporter of Somali unity within a federal system of government. He opposes Somaliland's unilateral declaration of independence from the rest of Somalia. He was detained on Saturday at Hargeysa airport, where his aircraft landed in transit to Mogadishu.
Du'ale said a group of eight young men protesting against Ghalib's arrest attacked Hargeysa airport on Monday. One of them died of wounds sustained during the attack, and the rest were arrested. Also wounded in the attack were two airport security officers. Du'ale added that "airport operations were back to normal within one hour".
On Monday, the minister told IRIN that any Somalilander who called for reunification with Somalia "calls into question the existence of the country and will therefore face the law".