African Union policy on Somaliland: Implications on Durable Solutions to Displacement Affected People in Somaliland

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Sa’ad Mohamed Abdi Gedo
Sa’ad Mohamed Abdi Gedo

By:Sa’ad Mohamed Abdi Gedo

Introduction:  

Since 1991, for over two and half decades, The African Union as an institution and its member states has been reluctant to consider Somaliland’s legal right for diplomatic recognition, failing to acknowledge the same historical context within which Somaliland came into existence as almost all other African nation-states. In this regard, Somaliland as a former British protectorate has got its independence from Great Britain on the 26th of June, 1960 making it one of the first African states to get independence from the colonial system. Somaliland has then informally united with Somalia, which was then, an Italian colony which got its independence in July, 1st, 1960. Somaliland withdrew from that informal unity with Somalia due to the absence of a legal basis for that unity, regaining its sovereignty after a bloody war for the right of self-determination with the brutal fascist regime, Siyad Barre. The AU has not only failed to appreciate the outstanding success that Somaliland as a nation-state has achieved both in terms of nation-building, peacebuilding, human rights and multi-party free and fair elections but also to understand that Somaliland has satisfied the Montevideo criteria for statehood (1) Permanent population, (2) Government, (3) a defined territory and (4) the capacity to enter into relation with other states, although the AU has sent a fact-finding group to Somaliland in 2005.

The AU’s policy position on Somaliland continues to recognize the “territorial integrity” of what has used to be the former Somali Republic, overlooking the self-determination of Somaliland’s inhabitants and favouring a former Italian colony which is formally characterized as the failed state of Mogadishu which has no practical authority over Somaliland or even parts of Somalia and is protected by the African Union’s Peacekeeping Mission. This unfair policy stand and its isolative implications on Somaliland, couldn’t break the iron will of the people of Somaliland to live independently and determine their own political destiny, however, it seriously contradicts AU’s principles and strategic goals, making Somaliland a geographically African nation-state but technically not African as the AU doesn’t recognize it and Somalia doesn’t rule over it. This peculiar political situation has for so long adversely affected the conditions of vulnerable groups like refugees, returnees and Internally Displaced People in Somaliland. This dramatic impact continuous to strategically undercut Somaliland’s humble efforts to help these people, fulfilling its humanitarian obligations while facing big developmental challenges in the context of AU’s isolation of Somaliland.

This article presents Somaliland’s progress in the issue of refugees, returnees and IDPs, while also analyzing the implications of AU’s policy stand on Somaliland.

Somaliland Government Framework on Refugees, Returnees and IDP’s:

The problem of forcibly displaced people in Somaliland is complicated, driven over the years by manifold factors including insecurity in neighbouring Somalia, drought, and cyclones due to the effects of climate change. Multiple displacements are frequent, and both long-time and recently displaced IDPs are located mainly in urban areas such as Marodijeh, Sanaag and Sool region. The Government of Somaliland has taken good progress in responding to displacement by planning for durable solutions for IDPs, refugees and returnees.

Legislative framework:

The parliament of the Republic of Somaliland passed Somaliland asylum law and also there is a United Nations 1951 convention on refugees which is still applied by Somaliland and there is IDPs law that is developed by Somaliland and it is applied too.

Institutional Framework:

The Somaliland National Agency for Refugees and displacement has been established on 3rd of January 2018 with the presidential decree by the president of Somaliland. The national agency for refugee and displacement is governmental agency dealing with refugees, IDPs, returnees and asylum seekers and migration response. The agency operates and functions in all regions of Somaliland. The agency provides support to the refugees, IDPs, returnees and MRC in Somaliland for durable solutions and protections, providing them registration to receive effective and efficient service and rights protection with dignity up to international standards of protection.  Hence, when it comes to refugees and asylum seekers in Somaliland, there is an institution which is responsible of the screening and registration.

The National Displaced and Refugee Agency (NDRA) is the lead government agency responsible for coordinating assistance and protection to the internally displaced and other displacement affected communities, refugees, returnees and migrants. NDRA provides capacity and strategic leadership to oversee the coordinated implementation process of IDPs policy framework which guides the interventions of the sector. The NDRA cooperates with and coordinates stakeholders in the delivery of services for the care, protection and assistance of IDPs and other displacement-affected persons.

After severe droughts in Somaliland Internal, displaced persons increased tremendously and reached 150,404 families throughout Somaliland.

Policy Framework: 

A National Internal Displacement Policy was completed in 2015 also the National Displacement and Refugee Agency (NDRA) has also drafted a 5-year Strategic Plan the same year. There is also a returnees program which is for people who are outside the country who are unable to return back to their country of origin, who voluntarily wants to return home. It started in 2012 and these returnees came from Europe, Asia, Africa, and America. Most of them were refugees in host countries while others were migrants. The government of Somaliland deals with returnees; first, when they arrive in the ports and airports the immigration office welcomes them and they refer them to the office of NDRA which handles registration and maintains their data.

Humanitarian and Development Challenges:

There are multiple challenges humanitarian and development challenges that are facing Somaliland due to the lack of diplomatic recognition by the African Union. The refugees that are in Somaliland are urban refugees and Somaliland within its diplomatic predicament cannot afford the provision of substance assistance and facilities for these displacement affected people.

The returnees do not get enough reintegration, as the Somaliland government is not getting assistance and help from the African Union. The returnees need health, education and shelters to integrate with the society.

Somaliland Internal displaced people face tremendous challenges including water, land for resettlements, food security and livelihood shocks exist among drought-affected IDPs, poor shelter, absence of durable solution programmes for integration and return to their normal lives and shortage of skill training programmes.

AU Policy against Somaliland and its Implications:

As the AU remains to neglect Somaliland, the adverse implications of its stubborn policy stand continue to damage the vulnerable groups in Somaliland which are way more beyond the capacity of Somaliland’s government to handle them by its own.

Lack of proper legal status for refugees and Asylum seekers: 

This is a direct consequence of AU’s unfair diplomatic isolation on Somaliland. As Somaliland is denied recognition, the refugees that are flooding from neighbouring Somalia, Ethiopia, Yemen and Syria and even IDPs due to droughts and cyclones are not getting proper legal recognition as the country itself is not recognized which in turn would hamper enough humanitarian aid and services for refugees, returnees and IDPs.

Lack of proper infrastructure for displacement affected people:

Somaliland government don’t have camps for refugees, returnees or IDPs and is devoid of proper infrastructure to handle the huge number of displacement affected people in the country. This is another result of AU’s negligence of Somaliland. Somaliland as an Isolated and corned country for almost three decades just because it reclaimed its 26th June 1960 independence, the economy is poor and the government cannot afford to construct such mega projects for displacement affected people.

Lack of AU assistance on durable solutions for displacement affected people:

As the AU doesn’t acknowledge or understand Somaliland’s case, strategic engagement and the pursued durable solutions for displacement affected people are absent in Somaliland. The African Union is only for its members and is not willing to take responsibility for any other African citizens who inhabit in the continent. In this way, the AU is contradicting its principles and is shooting itself in the leg.  Continued disregard and such careless policy on Somaliland will only complicate the current situation and the future of displacement affected people in Somaliland. The government of Somaliland will continue to take responsibility of its humanitarian obligations regardless of the diplomatic isolation and AU’s abandonment.

Recommendations:

  1. The African Union should reconsider its policy position on Somaliland, taking note on the humanitarian and development challenges that such unfair isolation of Somaliland would bring to the displacement affected people in the country.

  2. The African Union should coordinate with Somaliland in its strategic initiative on the durable solutions for displacement affected people in Africa.

  3. The African Union should allow Somaliland to be represented in the AU in one way or the other as Somalia has no authority of Somaliland and has nothing to do with it.

  4. The African Union should release, publish and consider the 2005 AU fact finding mission report on Somaliland.

  5. The AU should integrate its strategic planning with Somaliland and attempt to understand Somaliland’s case in an objective and wise manner.

Appendices:

Host Country

Jan

Feb

March

April

May

June

July

Aug

Sep

Oct

Nov

Dec

Total

Yemen

132

270

272

267

124

141

0

251

130

363

290

251

2490

Switzerland

 

 

2

1

 

 

 

 

 

3

Egypt

 

 

2

1

 

 

 

 

 

3

Germany

 

 

1

1

2

 

 

 

 

 

4

Sudan

 

 

1

1

7

 

 

 

9

Libya

 

 

19

71

6

 

 

 

62

8

97

Indonesia

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

1

 

 

 

 

2

Serbia

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

1

 

 

 

 

1

Total

 

 

74

49

19

76

13

14

16

 

 

 

2600

Returnees in Somaliland:

  Somaliland’s NDRA Services for Displacement Affected People:

Months

Registration

Health

Counseling

Hotline

NFI

AVRR

Outreach

Jan2018

77

106

12

22

0

0

0

Feb 2018

42

99

8

13

100

0

0

Mar 2018

34

206

12

21

0

0

0

Apr 2018

89

238

39

25

0

39

72

May 2018

26

188

6

16

0

0

120

Jun 2018

44

190

6

22

50

100

July 2018

95

232

3

18

100

63

100

Aug 2018

92

276

5

23

40

0

Sep 2018

58

313

13

21

40

67

300

Oct 2018

130

287

10

36

20

57

250

Nov 2018

105

312

6

21

0

0

200

Dec 2018

100

356

7

18

53

36

100

Total

1323

3929

232

347

588

262

1242

 

           Refugees and Asylum Seekers in Somaliland:

No.

Nationality

Refugees Cases

Individuals

Asylum seekers Cases

Individuals

Total cases

Total

1

Ethiopian

646

2948

3266

9377

3912

12325

2

Yemeni

4323

6788

31

55

4354

6843

3

Egypt

0

0

9

18

9

18

4

Eritrea

18

49

22

29

40

78

5

Iraq

5

5

1

1

6

6

6

Jordan

0

0

1

2

1

2

7

Kenya

0

0

1

1

1

1

8

Nigeria

0

0

2

4

2

4

9

Sudan

1

1

4

10

5

11

10

Syria

114

202

2

4

116

206

11

Congolese

0

0

1

1

1

1

12

Palestine

15

19

0

0

15

19

13

Bangladesh

1

6

0

0

1

6

14

Djibouti

0

0

9

12

9

12

15

Mozambique

0

0

1

3

1

3

16

Cameroon

0

0

2

4

2

4

Total

5123

10018

3352

9521

8475

19539

Somaliland’s IDPs Data:

No.

Region

No of Households

Percentage

Awdal

14308 Households

9.5%

Maroodi Jeh

35591 Households

23.6%

Sahil

8090 Households

5.3%

Sanaag

35219 Households

23.4%

Sool

32182 Households

21.3%

Togdheer

25014 Households

16.6%

 

Total

150404 Households

100%

References:

  1. Somaliland, National Displaced and Refugee agency (NDRA)

  2. Somaliland, Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation [ https://www.somalilandmfa.com ]

 

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

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