SOMALILAND FORUM www.somalilandforum.com
Somaliland Times Feb.2, 2002
News about the British governments new policy to send thousands of Somali
and Afghan refugees back to their countries of origin has been received in
Somaliland with grave concerns.
According to British officials at the Home Office, citizens from Somaliland,
Puntland and Afghanistan would no longer be eligible for being granted a
refugee status or leave to stay in Britain. The British claim that with the Taliban
defeated, Afghanistan is now a safe country that could take back its people who
have been seeking asylum in Britain. To justify the expulsion of the Somalis, British Immigration minister Lord Rooker explains that since Somaliland and Puntland are peaceful areas run by good governments, refugees from those places would forfeit entitlement to being granted leave to remain in Britain.
As far as the Republic of Somaliland is concerned, we certainly agree that
this country has not only been peaceful and stable for, at least the last
six years, but has also succeeded in establishing government bureaucracy
that is accountable to its own people through their elected representatives
in Parliament. However, we very much doubt if by satisfying these conditions
alone, Somaliland would be in an ideal position to take back the thousands
of its refugees, expected to be affected by the new British Immigration
policy. Already, Somaliland is struggling very hard to cope with the effects
of the voluntary repatriation of hundreds of thousands of its refugees from
eastern Ethiopia during 1997-2001.
Most of these refugees returned to Somaliland without any assistance from the international community. In this year, an estimated 60,000 refugees are expected
to repatriate under a UNHCR/UNDP assisted repatriation and reintegration program. However the repatriation effort has been creating havocs in Somaliland arising from
this war-devastated countrys inability to address the needs of the huge streams
of returning refugees in terms of shelter, livelihood security and social
services. The situation has been further aggravated by the funding cuts imposed on UNHCR programs in Somaliland and the UNDPs lack of adequate
resources for returnee reintegration assistance. And as the Saudi Arabian
authorities still refuse to lift the ban they had imposed since Sept 2000 on
Somaliland livestock exports to the Kingdom, there is little hope for an
economic improvement in Somaliland anytime soon.
Somaliland would of course like to welcome its refugees in Britain and
elsewhere back to their home country. But to become prepared for this
endeavor, Somaliland will need sufficient time and resources. The
international community of nations, particularly Britain, has so far
remained reluctant to turn their attention to the enormous reconstruction,
repatriation and developmental needs that Somaliland has been struggling
with alone, ever since the complete cessation of all hostilities in 1996. It
is therefore a high time now for countries like Britain to discontinue this
passive stance on Somaliland affairs, and instead start providing the
assistance that this country needs for tackling its huge developmental
In the meantime we urge the British government to reconsider its plans for
the repatriation of Somaliland refugees from Britain. We believe that it is
still premature to bring these people back to here. Somaliland is still ill-
prepared to absorb them. It is also unfair for the Home Office to embark on
a repatriation policy concerning our refugees on a unilateral basis.
Instead, we advice that the British government send a fact-finding mission
on this issue to Somaliland.
Thousands of Somalilanders face expulsion from Britain
London (SLT) Thousands of Somaliland refugees in Britain may be faced with
the prospect of being forcibly returned to their country. Lord Rooker, the British
Minister for Immigration told The Independent Newspaper last week that Britain
was on the verge of being able to return people to certain parts of Somalia,
because large parts of the country were now being run by good local government.
The Home Office was quoted saying last September that people from
Somaliland and Puntland areas would no longer be routinely granted leave
to remain in Britain owing to their relative peace and stability. At least
50,000 Somalilanders live in London alone. Somalilanders also
constitute the largest minority group in the old port city of Cardiff. Most
of the Somalis living in Britain come from Somaliland.
The new policy is expected not only to affect asylum seekers whose
applications have either been rejected or not yet processed, but also those
who have been granted leave to stay in Britain. The news about the possible
repatriation of Somaliland refugees from Britain is very much likely to send
shock waves through tens of thousands of households in Somaliland itself.
At least one member or two of every household in Somaliland lives abroad.
President Egal Dissatisfied with Guurti on The Extension
Berbera (SLT): President Egal has blamed the Somaliland House of Elders for
what he described as the Guurtis mishandling of the issue of extending the
governments term in office during last month.
At a meeting with Berbera Elders yesterday, President Egal said he would
have preferred to be granted a shorter period of time, possibly 3-6 months
instead of the one year decreed by the Elders.
Mr. Egal who went on a private visit to Berbera on Wednesday, has also voiced
his concern over what he called the inclination of some opposition groups to
create problems in the country.