An open letter to the European union on aid to Somaliland

Somaliland Societies in Europe

We, the Somaliland Societies in Europe (SSE) which connects the various Somaliland communities in the European countries, write this open letter to bring to your notice our concern and that of the people of the Republic of Somaliland about the recent (31 August 2019) EU announcement at Mogadishu, Somalia, of a project which was said was primarily for Mogadishu (and in honour of the late Mayor of that city), but which also contained funding for the port city of Berbera in the Republic of Somaliland.

We welcome the aid that the EU extends to the people of the Republic of Somaliland and urge both the EU and its member countries to continue their much-needed assistance. We raise, however, our concerns about the undermining impact of this EU proposed funding for Berbera, Somaliland under the EU ‘Inclucity’ Regional Indicative Programme. The project was regrettably not offered in line with the current direct aid arrangements for Somaliland, including the Somaliland Special Arrangement. In its Somalia Strategy 2017-2020 the EU makes it clear that it ‘will continue providing targeted support to Somaliland based on their identified needs (i.e the Somaliland National Development Plans) and aligned with the strategic pillars identified’ in that strategy.

We note that the EU project signatory was none other than the EU Director General for International Cooperation & Development, Mr Stefano Manservisi, who has been to Mogadishu before and is no doubt fully conversant with the differences between Somalia and Somaliland.

The proposed funding for the Somaliland coastal town of Berbera is not by itself objectionable, but the Somaliland Government and people as well as SSE deprecate the way the project was conflated with the Mogadishu specific project contrary to the current arrangements for the provision of aid to Somaliland and the deliberate ‘politicisation’ of this project aid by Somalia’s current government which has repeatedly broken the explicit agreement on non-politicisation of aid. The current Somalian Minister of Planning, Investment & Economic Development, Gamal Mohamed Hassan, who was known for his blatantly antagonistic attitude to Somaliland, has form in this respect.

We echo the reaction of the Somaliland Government to this issue, when they confirmed, on 1 September 2019, their previous collaboration with the EU ‘Inclucity’ project and their deep regret of Somalia’s politicisation of development aid provided by donors to Somaliland and disregard of the previous agreements between Somaliland and Somalia. The Somaliland Government emphasised that it will not accept anything that jeopardises its sovereignty and warned that Somalia’s approach affects regional stability and creates animosity among the peoples of the two countries.

We remind the EU and other donors (that support Somaliland directly through various agreed mechanisms) of Somalian Government’s recent attempts to block aid to Somaliland. On 9 June 2018, the Somalia Minister of National Planning, Investment and Economic Cooperation, Gamal M Hassan, informed the donors that the Somaliland Special Arrangement shall not be renewed. The prompt response of the donors on 13 June 2018 was unequivocal and welcomed by Somaliland. In it the donors referred to ‘the unique circumstances in Somaliland’ and stated their hope that the renewal of the Somaliland Special Arrangement –

‘will not only serve to depoliticise our aid relationship with the Somali people to the benefit of all, but also serve to build goodwill and trust between the parties involved and support a wider, constructive dialogue on issues of common concern’.

We cannot be complacent about this Somalian Government’s increasingly aggressive attitude to Somaliland. The way this proposed EU project was dealt with undermines Somaliland’s quest for recognition and is counter to the previous agreements on aid to Somaliland. The international community endorsed in the February 2012 London Conference to support dialogue between Somaliland and Somalia on ‘their future relations’– an issue which is still outstanding. We urge the EU and all donors to avoid any measures that may aggravate this impasse and embolden further Somalian government’s illegitimate claim on Somaliland territories. Somaliland’s priorities continue to remain, among other things, peaceful co-existence with all its neighbours and the advancement and progress of its people and economy and, therefore, welcomes aid and assistance which does not damage its long-standing constitutional principles and sovereignty.

We hope that you will take note of this letter and appreciate that the Republic of Somaliland should be confused with Somalia.

By :Executive Committee

Somaliland Societies in Europe


[i] ‘ EEAS, ‘Eng. Yarisow Programme Signing Ceremony’ Mogadishu, 31/09/2019, available at:


[iii] EU Delegation to Somalia Strategy 2017-2020, Annex 2, p. 7.

[iv] Talks between Somaliland & Somalia: The Ankara 13 April 2013 Communique, point 4, stated that that the parties ‘agreed to encourage and facilitate International aid and development provided to Somaliland’. This was re-emphasised in the Djibouti 21 December 2014 Communique – point 2(B), which stated that the previous agreement that humanitarian and development aid shall not be politicised and shall instead be encouraged. Other communiques have repeatedly underlined the importance of the implementation of agreed points.

[v] Republic of Somaliland Ministry of Planning and National Development Press Statement on ‘Somalia’s Misleading and Horrendous Acts on Politicising Aid’ dated 01 September 2019

[vi] Letter to the ‘Somalia Donors Group’ titled ‘Renewal of the Somaliland Special Arrangement’ Ref:/WQM&HDQ/OM/063/2018, and dated 09 June 2018.

[vii] Letter from the Donors to the Somalia Deputy Prime Minister titled  ‘Renewal of the Somaliland Special Arrangement’ and dated 13 June 2018. Copy available at:

[viii] London Conference on Somalia: Communique 23 February 2012, para. 6.

The views expressed in this article are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect Horndiplomat editorial policy.

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