By: Yusuf M Hasan
HARGEISA (Somalilandsun) – “As from 15th May at 6 am UN Flights are banned from entering Somaliland and any of its Aircraft already on the ground shall not be allowed to take-off until further notice”
This order was issued by the minister of Aviation Mr Mahmud Hashi Abdi at a press conference held at Egal Airport in Hargeisa where he also informed that UNDP is acting in a manner likely to impinge negatively on dialogue with Somalia.
The banning order which shall affect the UN’s operated carrier UN Humanitarian Air Support-UNHAS comes after the UN through its UNDP agency handed over Somaliland’s airspace control to the Mogadishu government yesterday.
“For 22 years now Somaliland has been operating as an independent nation and shall thence not accept to be and shall never be under any sort of jurisdictional management from Somalia” said minister Hashi
Informing that the UN has no authority over Somaliland’s airspace or economic zones the aviation minister also informed that the yet to be unrecognized country shall take full control of its airspace soon.
Said he, “As from the 27th July 2013 Somaliland shall take full managerial control of its airspace and Airports”
According to Minister Hashi the period between now and the date designated for assumption of full airspace control has been set aside to facilitate bookkeeping with UN’s International Civil Aviation Organization-ICAO which has been roughshod ding air travel management for 22 years.
Revealing that ICAO has been collecting over $10m revenue annually from Somaliland airspace, minister Mahmud Hashi said the country’s share of the millions in dollars has been salary payment for around 40 aviation industry personnel and nothing else.
The Aviation boss who termed the UNDP act to hand over Somaliland’s airspace management to Somalia as illegal also said it is contrary to not only agreements entered upon by the two countries but shall impinge negatively on the on-going internationally and supported dialogue between them as well.
At the same time the International Air Travel Association-IATA was asked to take note of the 27th July 2013 date thus advise its members operating in or utilizing Somaliland’s airspace to deal directly with the Hargeisa based authorities.
In concluding his press briefing the aviation minister Mr Mahmud Hashi Abdi who reiterated Somaliland’s sovereignty informed that the nation though peace loving shall not be cowed by any quarters and it shall respond to gestures of friendship and enmity in-kind
As we await reaction from the UN as per the ban on its flights that only serve its personnel and others from working for international organizations the only recourse left for these expatriates are airlifts from the European Community Humanitarian Office-ECHO operated carriers.
Meanwhile the move by the government has received mixed reactions from members of the public with a few opinionating that the decision might be harmful to the national.
The moves supporters who are in the majority say this is the best thing to happen to the country in 22 years and that the UN can if it wills cease providing the pennies that trickle down after millions allocated are spend in high class hotels in the notorious triangle of Hargeisa-Nairobi-Geneva not to mention the cosy two people aircraft rentals.
As for recognition of Somaliland supporters say the international community can continue its 22 years overdue acknowledgement of the country’s’ sovereignty since Allah and citizens have already recognized Somaliland as an independent country.