By: Dr .Edna Aden
Dr. Edna Adan Ismail clearly elucidated Somaliland’s place in the world today to the international community & why it must act now to recognize it once again as it did before on the 26th June 1960.
She stated Somaliland fully respects the borders as they existed at the moment of our independence from Britain and continues to live within these same borders today.
A speech Dr. Edna presented during a Conference held at the European Parliament was as follows:- “Africa 21st Century: Old and New Borders, Federalism and Self-Determination”
Brussels, Wednesday 8th March, 2023
Honorable Members of the European Parliament, Ladies and Gentlemen,
I bring you greetings from the Republic of Somaliland and consider it a great honour to up-date you about my country.
Background and Past history.
Established as British Somaliland Protectorate in 1884, Somaliland became independent through a Royal Proclamation on June 26, 1960, and was immediately recognised by 34 UN Member States, including the five Permanent Members of the Security Council.
This made Somaliland the first fully independent and sovereign Somali country. 62 years later, since we have never given away our sovereignty to anyone, we still claim ownership of our name, our identity, our independence, and our territory as it was at the time of our independence which remains the same to this day.
The Civil War and our separation from Somalia.
Regarding our turbulent neighbour, former Italian Somalia that everyone knows about, that country became independent one week after Somaliland. With Somaliland being the ‘mother’ country and the more senior, the two independent Somali ‘States’ attempted a union to form the ‘Somali Republic’ That union became defunct in 1991 when the Somali Republic that we united with broke into several portions and fragments that named themselves the Federal Republic of Somalia only to remain at war with each other to this day.
Thus our informal union with Somalia that started in June 26, 1960, finally ended on May 18 1991, when Somaliland formally separated from Somalia after Somaliland defeated the troops of Somalia at the end of the ten-year brutal civil war from 1982 to 1991. During that civil war, Somalia perpetrated crimes against humanity and acts of genocide against our people causing us to withdrew from that failed union when Somalia used Government Mig Fighters to bomb our major cities without pity. We separated from Somalia when Russian-donated tanks and heavy military artillery pounded civilian dwellings, flattened our schools, hospitals, mosques, and destroyed 90% of our main cities. Hundreds of thousands Somalilanders were massacred, and over a million driven from their homes to seek refuge in camps in neighbouring Ethiopia, Djibouti, Yemen, and beyond. To this day, we keep discovering mass graves in Somaliland, and although over a hundred sites were registered by UN Forensic Experts, shamefully, Human Rights Organisations have said nothing, nor done anything about the genocide and massacre suffered by our people. (Ref: ‘A Government at war with its own people’ by American Human Rights Watch)
Once peace was secured in 1991, Somalilanders embarked on an energetic reconstruction of the country with our own resources since Foreign Aid was denied to us just as political recognition is still denied to us.
Before reconstruction could take place, peace and stability could be secured, the massive militia that defeated the troops of Somalia had to be demobilized so that a democratic and functioning system of Government could be put in place. To achieve this, a Constitution was developed and approved by the people in a general referendum that also confirmed Somaliland to be formally separate from Somalia. We are proud that Somaliland has been peaceful for the past 32 years and that we have held a succession of general Parliamentary and Presidential elections that have always been witnessed by international observers and in which every man and woman over 18 years has the right to vote.
In Somaliland, we generate our own resources to defend our country, we train and run our police force, have our own currency and our passports. We also rely on ourselves to rebuild our country, we have established our local and regional courts, run all government affairs, as well as provide health, education, and social services to our people. By contrast, our neighbour Somalia that is ‘recognized’ depends on the international community for all of the above.
I am sure that anyone who ‘googles’ Somaliland will see the images of beautiful modern cities that have attracted tourists, foreign guest workers, as well as a country that has encouraged the return of its people en masse from the Diaspora when by contrast, Somalia has been continuously sending out a steady stream of refugees to the world while Somaliland has built a society founded on peace, justice, and the rule of law.
Although Somaliland is not politically recognised by any country, it nevertheless hosts the presence of many UN agencies, the EU, International NGOs, and has an increasing number of countries who have Representatives or Trade Offices in Somaliland such as Taiwan, the United Kingdom, Denmark, Ethiopia, Kenya, UAE, and also the US after the Senate passed a bill to re-establish its presence in Berbera. (This has earned Somaliland the description of ´an area of special sovereignty´ by the National Geographic). Hopefully, recognition of our much-deserved sovereignty will become a reality soon.
Today, our economy is the envy of many countries and is increasingly attracting foreign investors from the East and from the West, who wish to do business with us. An outstanding example is the investment by DP World of the United Arab Emirates and that of the United Kingdom who have between them invested over Half a Billion US Dollars to reconstruct the deep-water Port of Berbera and turned it into a regional maritime hub. The United Kingdom is also constructing the feeder roads to neighbouring land-locked Ethiopia. Smaller investments have been made in industry, manufacture, agriculture, fisheries, and of course in real estate.
Recently, our Oil explorations have confirmed the presence of oil in commercial quantities in at least three main sites off-shore and on land.
Coastline and Marine Resources
Somaliland has a coastline that is 850 kilometres long which we have kept pirate-free for 32 years. We are strategically located at the mouth of the Red Sea where 12% of the world’s ships pass through. Keeping these waters terrorist free not only keeps Somaliland safe, but also keeps the worlds shipping lanes safe !
Our waters are also rich in marine resources that are waiting to be exploited in a sensible and modern manner. Currently, clandestine fishing licences are issued by Somalia to foreign trawlers who are destroying the marine ecology inside the waters of Somaliland. We invite organisations who like us, are concerned about the environment to join their efforts to ours to protect the marine resources that belong to us all.
It’s no secret that Somaliland has minerals resources including Gold, Diamonds, Emeralds, and others, as well as the world biggest Gypsum Deposits that in quality is second only to the Canadian Gypsum which is among the best and waiting to be processed into cement and other bi-products.
Respect of Africa’s Borders
At the time of our Independence on June 26, 1960, Somaliland became the 12th country in Africa to be independent and sovereign. At that time, 42 African countries (including Somalia) who are now all members of the African Union were still under Colonial rule when Somaliland was independent.
Somaliland fully respects the borders as they existed at the moment of our independence from Britain and continues to live within these same borders today.
Somaliland reaffirms its commitment to the peace and stability of the region which includes unreserved respect for the unity, and territorial integrity of States. We stand neither for secession, nor for the fragmentation or the revision of Africa’s borders.
Ladies and Gentlemen, our withdrawal from our union with Somalia does not make us the first sovereign African state to have entered into a voluntary union with another sovereign state, and subsequently withdrew from that union intact. Egypt and Syria, Senegal and Gambia and Senegal and Mali have all done likewise and have never been punished for it when Somaliland has been punished for the past 32 years for doing exactly the same !
The Future of Somaliland is as a bright light that shines from the ‘dark side of the moon’
Although our peace and stability have been threatened by Terrorist and Shabaab attacks from Somalia in recent weeks, Somaliland’s track record of over three decades of stability has helped us build the good relations that we enjoy with neighbouring States. Our growing trade and economy are also the cornerstones of our foreign policy, which envisions a more stable, democratic, peaceful, and prosperous Horn of Africa. We believe in our Sunni Islam Religion which does not condone acts of terrorism nor fundamentalist ideologies.
The Constitution gives freedom of expression, freedom of assembly, and freedom of education to our men and women alike. In fact, 75% of the students in my university ( the Edna Adan University) are female.
We hope that this light that shines on Somaliland will herald a new dawn that will bring justice to the people of Somaliland who have a right to be heard, to seen, and to be recognised as responsible members of the international community because Somaliland has never been part of Africa’s problems.
Instead, Somaliland has the political maturity and the African wisdom that our Continent needs to bring peace to neighbouring Somalia, and Somaliland needs to be part of the nations of the world who are genuinely searching for solutions to Africa’s problems and, Ladies and Gentlemen, Somaliland is ready, willing and able to take on that responsibility.
Ladies and Gentlemen, Somaliland has been unjustly punished for the sins of others for far too long. For reasons unknown to us, Somalia who had been the cause of our destruction has been left with the authority to represent us, when in fact we have been separate far longer than we have been united. We wonder where else in the world has the aggressor ever been given the authority to represent the victim.
Somaliland needs to be welcomed back from its unjust exile to the dark side of the moon. Our voice must be heard, our case must be given its day in court, and at last, justice needs to prevail because there is no re-unification with fragmented and chronically unstable Somalia that has done so much evil to our country and has been a haven for warlords, pirates, terrorists and shabaab for the past three decades.
Finally, and as we have done for the past 32 years, we in Somaliland continue to extend a friendly hand to our neighbours in Somalia for the initiation of serious dialogue to find a peaceful resolution to our differences so that our people may at last find peace on both sides of our common border. If we had that peace, we could join our efforts to find solutions to our common problems caused by drought, food insecurity and malnutrition in our people. Our resources could become better used to prevent and treat the diseases and complications that are killing our people, particularly our women and children and finally, we would better educate our youth, create jobs for them, and prevent them from being trafficked to Europe and beyond only to drown in foreign seas or die in foreign prisons.
Ladies and Gentlemen, I sincerely hope and pray that wisdom will prevail at last so that peace and stability may finally return to the entire Horn of Africa.
I sincerely wish to thank the Honorable Member of the European Union, Carles Puigdemont for inviting Somaliland to this conference.