By: Yusuf M Hasan
HARGEISA (Somalilandsun) – The government of Somaliland has rescinded its decision barring citizens of Somalia escaping war in Yemen from entering the country.
According a press statement released by line ministries in Hargeisa pledges of financial, material and logistical support made by the United Nationals High Commissioner for Refugees-UNHCR and the International Office for Migration-IOM makes it possible for the Somaliland authorities to facilitate the ever increasing numbers of refugees fleeing Yemen among them originally from Somalia.
The statement was issued at a joint press briefing conducted by the Somaliland ministers of interior and resettlement Ali Mohamed Waran’áde and Ali Saeed Raygal in Hargeisa where they flanked by the deputy ministers of Social services and health.
The now rescinded order denying entry into the country and subsequent cessation of handling Somali nationals fleeing the Saudi led war was issued by government of Somaliland on the 24th May due to what it termed as lack of financial resources and unfulfilled pledges made by UNHCR and IOM respectively.
According to the minister of Resettlement Ali Saeed Raygal government agencies and its partners shall resume handling of Somali nationals at the port of Berbera and host them at designated areas in the coastal town until such a time as plans for their departure to their home country of Somalia ripens.
His counterpart at the Interior Ministry Ali Mohamed Waran’áde said that the Somaliland authorities are now in a better position to receive and host refugees from Yemen more so, those of Somali origin after discussion with UNHCR and IOM ended on a positive note as relates to finances and logistics.
Boatloads chartered by Yemenis and including citizens of Somaliland and Somalia who have been living and working in the war engulfed Gulf country fleeing the Saudi Arabia led coalition’s war on Houthi rebels have been docking at ports in Somaliland where they have so far disgorged thousands of their passengers.
With the 24th May refugee ban order having been misconstrued by the press thus informing that Somaliland authorities have ceased reception of all refugees from Yemen the interior minister made clarification stating that the now quashed order related to Somali nationals only.
“”with our Humanitarian aid agencies partners having failed to respond as arranged and in lieu of the meagre resources availed by the central coffers that we utilize in catering for resettling our returning nationals and Yemenis seeking safe havens the government had no alternative but to stop receiving Somali citizens in the same boats” said minister Waran’áde
To date Somaliland is so far home to more than 2,000 people who have made the journey across the Gulf of Aden to Berbera with UNHCR projections indicating that as many as 100,000 more will follow over the next six months if the situation in Yemen remains the same.
Meanwhile yet to be confirmed reports indicate that on the 29th May a boatload of Somali citizens from Yemen was denied entry into the port of Berbera by Somaliland authorities an act that appears to have elbowed UNHCR and IOM into making concrete financial pledges thus the withdrawal of rejection a day later.
What is most baffling in this saga that has ensued with people escaping mayhem in search of safe havens having to undergo pain of rejection is that UNHCR which is usually the lead agency in these matters globally had informed that it will expedite untying its purse strings during a meeting between the UN body’s senior officials and Somaliland Foreign minister Mohamed Behi Younis in Geneva earlier this month.
During the Geneva meeting it was agreed that the United Nations body shall expeditiously expand UNHCR’s operations in Somaliland and increase its support to the government for apt management of the large numbers of refugees and IDPs, mostly locals and from South Somalia as well Ethiopia in addition to native Yemenis flocking by sea into the country from Yemen.
In addition to the UNHCR and IOM another UN agency has shown interest in the Somali refugees fleeing Yemen but not in relation to issues related to verification as a prelude to barring persons affiliated to terrorist groups.
This came to light at the UN headquarters where Inner City Press investigate journalist Matthew Russell Lee queried the Executive Director of the UN Security Council Counter-Terrorism Committee Executive Directorate Jean-Paul Laborde about fears raised by Somaliland.
In response Mr Laborde said “We will try to do our best,” then added that in “countries like Somaliland,” you have to resolve the crisis before getting into the technicalities. Watch below
On the other hand the Federal Government of Somalia-SFG which has no jurisdictional authority over decisions made by Somaliland authorities didn’t shy away from condemning the decision, now rescinded, to cease hosting its citizens fleeing Yemen.
the SFG minister of foreign affairs Abdisalam Omar Hadliye who accused the Somaliland authorities of breaching international conventions adding that the act was strange, said “It is something me and the government in Mogadishu cannot understand why it was done” this even after Somali reporters had made him aware of reasons behind the move by establishment in Hargeisa
minister Hadliye himself originally from Somaliland a former British protectorate that in 1991 withdrew from its voluntary union of 1960 with Somaliland had the audacity and Without a twinkle in his eye, to state that “Somali refugees fleeing from the violence in Yemen have the utmost right to return to their country and live in any region they want” clearly a disguised claim to areas under the territorial jurisdiction of Somaliland.
Now that Somaliland authorities have rescinded their Somali citizens fleeing Yemen entry ban order facilitated by UNHCR and IOM support pledges Somalilanders are awaiting a congratulatory message from the SFG mouth that issued condemnations.
Finally Somaliland is home to hundreds of thousands of Somali citizens who upon escaping war in their country have found safe havens in all corners of the yet to be recognized country where the reside, work in both the public and private sectors without let or hindrance apart from the one condition, that they are citizens of Somalia and not Somaliland.
Watch LaBorde of Counter-Terrorism on Yemen Evacuation, Somaliland UN help