A land on the brink of death. What future can Somaliland have? Interview with Lars Patrick Berg MEP

Német EP-képviselő: A magyar választásokat profin vezették le | Mandiner

Q: The world has expressed concern about how developing countries have been affected by the war in Ukraine after Russia imposed a ban on the export of food to the world from Ukrainian ports, causing prices to rise.  Ukraine and Russia have agreed a deal that would allow the resumption of vital grain exports from Ukraine’s Black Sea ports, a major diplomatic breakthrough aimed at easing the global food crisis caused by the war, but little too late, and food shortages have hit the vulnerable Horn of Africa region hard. European politicians, like yourself, have pointed out that Somaliland is unable to withstand the food shortages caused by the war in Ukraine, while the country is in the grip of a drought. The situation is said to have worsened with climate change. Is there help?

Answer: Statistics show that in 2020,  faced the greatest drought threat, followed by Zimbabwe, Djibouti and South Africa. In 2022, news broke worldwide that the people of Somaliland are “on the brink of death”, and the Somaliland Drought Relief Commission reported that severe drought conditions have displaced 810,000 people and decimated crops and livestock.  Forest fires, droughts and floods are seasonal. But climate change is making them more frequent, longer and more extreme.

According to surveys of people displaced by drought in Togdheer, Sool and Sanag regions of Somalia, after three consecutive rainy seasons since October 2020, 59% of households reported losing all their livestock, forcing them to abandon their livelihoods and move to urban areas. Many animals died due to lack of pasture and water, while others were sold in desperation as herders tried to make enough money to support their families while food and water prices skyrocketed.

Q: European politicians, including yourself, argue for direct aid to Somaliland. But Somaliland’s independence has not yet been recognised by many countries. Where is the solution?

A: Somaliland has not been able to receive 20% of international aid because of the international non-recognition of its independence, so it would be great if Somaliland could get this recognition. In this case, it would receive aid directly to protect its people from starvation. The states should take note that Somaliland is not a breakaway or separatist country, as the enemies of its independence falsely claim. Somaliland became an independent nation on 26 June 1960, when Somalia was still an Italian colony.  Somaliland will not return to the destructive, terrible, one-sided union with Somalia, hastily partitioned on 1 July 1960, after Somaliland seceded from it in 1991 after disastrous civil wars, reclaiming the independence it achieved on 26 June 1960.

Question:  Nevertheless, wouldn’t it be logical for the ethnically cohesive part to be reunited in a union?

Answer: For 22 years, from 1960 to 1982, the people of Somaliland tolerated denial of power-sharing, oppression and injustice, and for 8 years between 1982 and 1990, all kinds of human rights violations, atrocities and destruction.

The people of Somalia must understand that the borders of Somaliland are as legitimate as the borders of any other African country, because they were all borders drawn by Europeans. There is no doubt that the Republic of Somalia will eventually be recognised for the colonial borders of the British Protectorate of Somalia and for the independence it achieved on 26 June 1960, two conditions that are necessary for diplomatic recognition by all African countries. Recognition of Somaliland is not a request but a right, like that of any other African country. It is therefore inevitable!

Question: Why would colonial borders still be inviolable in Africa? Could they not be redrawn by the peoples themselves?

Answer: There are no clan or tribal boundaries in Africa, only state or national boundaries. The fact is that the colonial boundaries drawn up by Europeans still determine statehood and the diplomatic recognition of countries in Africa, Asia and the Arab world. Somaliland is no exception. It inherited its internationally recognised colonial boundaries from the British Protectorate of Somalia, like any other African country from a colonial power. Internationally, the borders of Djibouti, Somaliland and Somalia have the same legitimacy and status as the colonial borders that define their independence, territory and nationhood as the rest of Africa.

Q: Yet the peace of the body of Africa depends on the peaceful coexistence of Somalia and Somaliland. Is such a scenario conceivable in the near future? 

Answer: It would be good if Somalia and Somaliland recognised each other, so that there are two twin brotherly states on the Horn of Africa, supporting each other and forming trade, cultural, travel, scientific, academic, sporting, military alliances, etc., like the Gulf countries to create a prosperous and better future for their people, rather than two hostile nations on the Horn of Africa, avoided by occasional clashes, border closures, deportations, threats, military build-ups, armed confrontations, etc. Interactions and cooperation between the two countries in all fields, restoring Somaliland’s sovereignty and revitalizing Somalia is the way out of the persistent instability.

Endre Barcs