Investment and aid would help the self- proclaimed autonomous state develop its economy, jobs and future
By Abbie Wightwick
Leading members of Cardiff’s Somali community are calling on the British and Welsh governments to recognise Somaliland as a country in its own right.
Speaking ahead of Somaliland independence day next week Eid Ali Ahmed, a founder member of Wales Refugee Council, and Abdikarim Abdi Adan, who runs Cardiff’s Somali Advice Centre, said recognising Somaliland would give it the investment and help it needs to be a stable area in a troubled region.
Such a move could even help address the current migrant crisis as people from across Africa risk their lives crossing the Mediterranean for Europe, they said.
‘If the economy grows why would people need to come here?’
“If it is recognised as a country it will have access to international aid and UN agencies and businesses will be more willing to invest,” said Mr Ahmed
“If the economy grows why would people need to come here?
“Migrants from across Africa coming from Libya to Italy are facing all these problems finding jobs. Western powers need to look at other ways to address this.
“We are building and investing in people in Somaliland but not getting the recognition to help us further our aims.”
Since declaring independence in 1991 Somaliland now has its own constitution, universities, currency, police and military and there has been no fighting in the area for six years.
A peaceful enclave, it has refugees from Somalia in the south and other countries, but cannot expand its economy without investment, the pair said.
Former Fitzalan pupil Mr Adan, a UK representative for the Somaliland Chamber of Commerce, said: “There is huge potential not being tapped into.
“Recognition would give it status.
“One of the key things is if we are able to support business and universities it will reduce numbers of youngsters leaving.
“Foreign Office travel advice is not to go to Somalia but Somaliland is safe. It needs to be recognised as a safe country in its own right.
“The international community refuses to recognise Somaliland as a country, continuing to see Somalia as one country and all the problems that brings with it.”
In March Cardiff Council officially recognised Somaliland as a sovereign state passing a motion to call on the UK Government and Welsh Government to recognise the region as an independent state.
‘It’s about providing support’
Some members of the city’s Somali community opposed the move saying it caused division and was beyond the council’s remit.
Labour councillor Lynda Thorne, who proposed the motion, said, “The motion was on the basis of sustaining democracy and in terms of helping Somaliland be recognised by the United Nations and to bring more investment, jobs, and prosperity there and to the rest of Somalia.
“I don’t think we’re meddling, it’s about providing support to a large community in Cardiff.
“It could be said as a council we have no power to recognise Somaliland but we’re trying to help that community get support from the United Nations and the UK Government, one small step at a time.”