Somalilandsun – In the north of Somalia – one of the poorest and most dangerous countries in the world – is Somaliland, a stable working democracy which no other nation recognizes as a proper country.
Somaliland used to be linked to Britain, but joined with Somalia in the 1960s to form one country. When the relationship soured Somaliland sought independence, but had to fight a bitter war against the Somali dictator during which thousands died.
[Filmmaker] Simon [Reeve]’s first stop on the way to Somaliland is Mogadishu, the capital of Somalia, where a dozen armed guards are needed to protect him from kidnap or killing.
The war-ravaged city, abandoned by the rest of the world, is in a state of anarchy with warlords instead of a government. But the rest of the world recognizes Somalia as an official state.
Because there’s no government there’s also no police force. In the main market, Simon buys himself a Somali diplomatic passport from a man called Mr Big Beard, then heads north to Somaliland.
Although Somaliland, a nation of 3.5m people, is relatively stable, with a government, police force and traffic lights, no country recognizes it exists.
Simon is guided around by Yusuf, a national hero and former guerilla fighter who spent 10 years battling for Somaliland’s independence.
Because Somaliland is not recognized it’s having trouble getting foreign aid to help with the worst drought in decades. Tens of thousands of people are at risk of starvation.
The President tells Simon he runs the country on just a few million pounds a year. Because nobody recognizes the government it cannot get loans, making Somaliland one of the few poor countries on the planet not burdened by foreign debt repayments. Because there is no money sloshing around, there’s also little corruption.
Some countries want Somaliland to reunify with Somalia. Over a camp fire, Yusuf and Simon drink warm camel milk together. Yusuf warns Simon a forced reunification with Somalia could lead to war, and he would be prepared to fight.
By: Simon Reeve/Places that don’t exists-Somaliland (Episode 1/5)