By Matthew Russell Lee
Somalilandsun -- After the UN refused to circulate Somaliland's April 1 letter, then downplayed its non-attendance at the "Somalia" conference in London, on May 14 Inner City Press asked Secretary General Ban Ki-moon's spokesman Martin Nesirky:
Inner City Press: Somaliland says that UN planes can no longer, for now, land in any Somaliland airport and they are ascribing this to a decision they say by the UN to turn over full management of their airspace to the Government of Somalia.... does the UN have any comment on its planes being barred from Somaliland and what impact would that have on the delivery of UN programs there?
Spokesperson Nesirky: I'd have to check, Matthew, I don't know the answer to that. I'd just have to check.
And the next day Nesirky did come back with an answer, waiting until the May 15 noon briefing to read it out:
I was asked yesterday (Tuesday)about flights to Somaliland . I can say that, following notification by authorities in Somaliland, all UN flights to and from Somaliland have been suspended with effect from yesterday. The UN and its agencies take this development seriously and are in discussions with the relevant authorities to bring about a resolution as quickly as possible.
There has been no impact on UN programmes and it is our priority to ensure no interruption of support or activities. The UN welcomes the efforts to resolve this quickly. The Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs says that around 413,000 people in Somaliland need humanitarian aid, including 39,000 children who suffer from malnutrition. More than 85,000 people remain displaced due to recurrent drought and conflict. Humanitarian organizations are providing food, nutrition, shelter, water and sanitation, among other support.
But how will it continue, if UN planes due to this still unjustified decision, can't land anymore? And now this: Somaliland's Minister of Telecommunications is said to be planning to create another country code, to replace Somalia's 252.
The United Nations took over responsibility for managing Somalia's airspace 19 years ago following the collapse of the central government, and in 1996 the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and the International Civil Aviation Organisation jointly established the Nairobi-based Civil Aviation Caretaker Authority of Somalia (CACAS) to collect over-flight revenues for Somalia.
The CACAS has collected millions of dollars on behalf of Somalia, said Abdirahman Said Aden, former director of the administration department in Somalia's Ministry of Transport.
According to Sabahi online Somalia's Minister of Information, Posts and Telecommunications Abdullahi Ilmoge Hirsi announced the government's successful negotiations after meeting with UNDP and CACAS officials on Monday.