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In Somaliland, Aid for Yemen Refugees Begins to Flow Belatedly, FUNCA Says

By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS, August 18 -- Amid protests in Somaliland of lack of aid to those who've fled the airstrikes and fighting in Yemen, Inner City Press on July 30 asked the UN, transcript below.

  Now on August 18, nearly three weeks later, Free UN Coalition for Access member Mohamoud Ali Walaaleye reports that Nabil Salem Tarshuum for refugees in Hargeisa, Somaliland, says aid allowances have at last begun to flow. In a letter, he thanks "Himilo newspaper and Inner City Press for their efforts our voices to be heard loudly." FUNCA's Mohamoud Ali Walaaleye too, who sends in these numbers:

Yemen refugees now in Somaliland: Adults: Female 2,418, Males 2,196; Children 4,261; Total 8,875. We'll have more on this.

Back on July  30:

Inner City Press: this has to do with people that are fleeing the situation in Yemen.  There were both stories, although in languages that Google doesn’t translate, and pictures of people protesting in Somaliland saying that they’re receiving no assistance whatsoever from the UN system.  So I wanted to know, is… is there a distinction?  Does the UN deal with those fleeing, whether to the Somalia part of it or the Somaliland part of it equally?  Are they aware of this?

Spokesman Dujarric:  I… I will look into those responses.  I know our humanitarian colleagues try to respond to people’s needs wherever they are.

 On July 31, Dujarric returned with this answer:

"Matthew, I think you’d raised the issue of people who have fled the conflict in Yemen who are now in Somalia and about whether we make a distinction between Somalia and Somaliland in assisting such people.

"According to our friends at UNHCR, more than 23,000 people, that’s 90 per cent of whom are Somalis, have arrived in Somalia.  The WFP [World Food Programme] is providing cooked meals to all returnees at the transit centres, as well as nutrition support to children under 5, pregnant women and breastfeeding mothers to prevent malnutrition.  WFP is also issuing electronic transfer cards with the value of $100 to provide to vulnerable Somalis leaving the transit centres and returning to their regions of origin.  WFP is providing similar assistance to the Yemeni nationals who are settled in Gardo, Puntland.

"As for a distinction between Somalia and Somaliland, the UN system is guided by humanitarian principles of neutrality and impartiality.  We are responding to the needs of vulnerable people in both regions regardless of politics."

  Then on August 4, UNHCR put this out:

"With the arrival in Bossaso, Puntland on 30 July of a boat carrying over 2,500 individuals (2,197 Somalis, 337 Yemenis and 9 others), total arrivals from Yemen to Somalia in July was almost 10,000 people (9,864). This is the highest monthly arrival figure to date; the previous high was in May, when 8,683 arrivals were recorded. As of 30 July, over 28,000 individuals (25,429 Somalis, 2,726 Yemenis, and 205 other third country nationals) have arrived in Somalia since March 26th.

The majority have been arriving in Bossaso (65 percent) and Berbera, Somaliland (34%). UNHCR and partners provide assistance to returnees to Somalia, including onward transportation to areas of origin or return. Almost 7,000 Somalis have returned to South Central regions (5,000 in Mogadishu), some joining settlements for internally displaced people there. More heIp is needed to ensure basic services and livelihoods and strengthen registration and verification and reception capacity at the main ports, particularly as outflows of Somali nationals are expected to continue. The Somalia Response Plan for the Yemen Crisis launched in June remains seriously underfunded. UNHCR and partners have received only 5 per cent of the US$ 64 million needed."

  Receiving only five percent of what is needed is a recipe for protest...

To fight piracy, EUCAP Nestor has seven or eight staffers in Somaliland, its head of mission Etienne de Poncins told Inner City Press on July 8. When Inner City Press asked about his line about coordinating with the Somali federal government, he replied Mogadishu hadn't objected to the staff in Hargeisa, but that Somaliland is not participating in some of EUCAP Nestor's workshops. Video here.

  Inner City Press also asked Maciej Popowski, Deputy Secretary-General, European External Action Service, about the trust fund of the Contact Group on Piracy off the Coast of Somalia. He said it's small but mention assistance to legal proceedings in the Seychelles and Mauritius, for what he called the "legal finish" on piracy cases.

Back on 29 August 2014 Inner City Press asked the UN to clarify its position on Somaliland. While the UN Spokesman has yet to respond more than 10 days later, in the interim Somaliland officials came to New York and met not only with ambassadors but also Senior UN Political Affairs officials including Jeffrey Feltman. Still, no public answer to the Press. Who authorized the UN to have "secret" policies?

 On August 29 Inner City Press asked:

Inner City Press: I wanted to ask about you gave the statement of Nicholas Kay about Somalia.  And there is something I wanted to ask.  A week ago he tweeted too that he had visited Puntand, Somaliand, Ethiopia and Kenya “all backed Somalia federalism”.  So, this has risen to some concerns because the President of Somaliland has disagreed and said that is not what they said, that they accepted his visit purely on UN system humanitarian thing.  So, he has tried to clarify it a bit and said he made something that wasn't quite clear, but he did respond.  And I wanted to know, maybe he is busy with, obviously, fighting and stuff over there.  From [the Department of Political Affairs] and the Secretariat's point of view, what is their understanding of the relationship between the political office on Somalia and Somaliland?  Do they believe that this visit implies contrary to what the president says?

Spokesman Dujarric:  Let's see what I can get on that.

  Eleven days later, nothing provided. But see this Somaliland announcement, here (hat tip Hargeisa-based Free UN Coalition for Access member Mohamoud Walaaleye)

"A delegation from Somaliland led by Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation, H.E. Mohamed Behi Yonis, and included Ambassador Mohamud Jama travelled to New York during the first week of September for meetings with high-level officials at the United Nations. The Under-Secretary General for the Department of Political Affairs, Jeffrey Feltman, warmly received Minister Yonis and his colleagues. Minister Yonis highlighted Somaliland’s positive achievements in combating Al Shabaab and maintaining a peaceful and stable nation. His Excellency requested further engagement from the United Nations through accurate reporting and better acknowledgment of Somaliland’s achievements. The meeting provided a good opportunity for Minister Yonis to brief Under-Secretary General Feltman about Somaliland’s relations with Puntland, progress with relations in Sool and Sanaag and the “Khatumo” rebel movement, the status of the Dialogue between Somaliland and Somalia as well as the recent visit of SRSG Nicholas Kay to Hargeisa."

  We'll have more on all this.

  The UN's envoy to Mogadishu Nicholas Kay travels more and works harder than most UN envoy. Still, when he tweeted that Somaliland supports Somalia "federalism," something seemed off.

   Even more so when on August 24 the president of Somaliland Ahmed Mahamoud Silanyo tweeted that "Somaliland will not host UNSOM political office" -- that is, Kay's office.

  So Inner City Press asked Kay on what basis he'd said Somaliland supports Somalia federalism.

  Kay to his credit responded, saying that "@innercitypress In Hargeisa I heard firm commitment to Somaliland's independence & also support for Somalia's state-building progress."

  But the first part of that, commitment to Somaliland's independence, seems quite contrary to a support for Somalia federalism -- at least with Somaliland in it.  Inner City Press replied, "But independence does not equal federalism, no? 

 As to Somalia itself, right after the UN Security Council visited Mogadishu, Somalia's Army and the UN-supported AMISOM force raided Radio Shabelle, jailing journalists.

   On August 19 Inner City Press asked the UK Mission to the UN about the raid and the at least three journalists still in detention: Abdimalik Yusuf Mohamud, Owner of Shabelle and SKY FM, Mohamud Mohamed Dahir a/k/a Mohamud Arab, Director of SKY FM and Ahmed Abdi Hassan, Shabelle deputy head of news.

  On August 20, the UK Mission's spokesperson Iona Thomas told Inner City Press that "the UK is concerned by reports of mistreatment of journalists in Somalia and we are urgently investigating the matter with the Somali authorities."  We hope to have more on this.

  Back on August 15 at the UN noon briefing, Inner City Press on behalf of the Free UN Coalition for Access asked if there is any UN response to this raid on independent media -- by UN supported forces.

  Secretary General Ban Ki-moon's deputy spokesperson Farhan Haq replied that there was no comment by the UN mission UNSOM under Nicholas Kay, and that Inner City Press should "check with AMISOM."

  But they're the ones who did it. Inner City Press asked again: no UN comment on the closing down of a radio station?

  Haq replied that he has no verification -- it is widely reported - and that he hasn't heard from UNSOM about it. Why not?

   Similarly, little has been heard at UN headquarters from UNSOM about envoy Nicholas Kay's recent visit to Somaliland, of which Kay has said, "Pleased to be in Hargeisa. Excellent talks with HE Mohammed Younis and his colleagues. Good to see our significant UN team in Somaliland."

   FUNCA member in Hargeisa Mohamoud Walaaleye, who has previously defended press freedom there, has made inquiries and provided more information to New York, to FUNCA and Inner City Press, than the UN Spokesperson's Office has conveyed from Kay.

  What is Kay's response to criticism of his approach to Somaliland, for example here, here and here. (Somali Embassy US saying "UN Envoy Nick Kay actions & policies are threaten the peace, Security, stability, sovereignty & territorial integrity of Somalia)? On this too we hope to have more.

   Back on May 12 in an advance copy of the UN's report on Somalia, to be issued as S/2014/330, Secretary General Ban Ki-moon says he is "concerned about the potential for confrontation between Puntland and 'Somaliland.' I call on both sides to avoid escalating tensions."

   Many note that Somaliland, without the quotation marks Ban puts around it, has been more peaceful than Mogadishu for some time - and that the UN system raised tensions by, for example, handing Somaliland's airspace to Mogadishu.

  Ban's report also says he remains "concerned about the continued export of Somali charcoal" and encourages "the Security Council Committee on Somalia and Eritrea to list the responsible individuals and entities."

  These advance copies have been known to be changed before "final" release, in a process for which a description, and then proposals for reform, were provided here and then here.

 In this advance copy, Ban "strongly recommend[s] to the Council an extension of the mandate of UNSOM for one year to 3 June 2015."

When on April 23 UNSOM envoy Nicholas Kay along with AMISOM head Mahamat Saleh Annadif took questions at the UN, Inner City Press asked them about the new Ugandan guard unit, about the Somalia Eritrea Monitoring Group and about Somaliland including its disputed airspace. Video here from Minute 14:23.

  Kay said, "at the moment we're absolutely clear obviously on the international legal position vis-a-vis Somaliland, it's not a recognized state by anyone. But they have a very strong sense of their own statehood and aspirations to independence."

  Kay referred to the Turkey-facilitated talks between Somaliland and the Somali government in Mogadishi, including about airspace. He said that UN funds and programs operate in Somaliland. But UNSOM does not: Somaliland points to the mandate it was given by the Security Council.

  On the Ugandan guard unit, Kay said they will protect the UN but work with AMISOM. But in March, AMISOM spokesperson Ali Aden Houmed was quoted by Voice of America that "we do not have the fact of what these forces are and they are not part of us... UN and Uganda had been conducting 'a secret negotiation.'" Neither Kay nor Mahamat Saleh Annadif addressed this.

  On sanctions, after Kay recounted improvements in reporting and "information" that are underway, Inner City Press asked if the Somali letter requesting the ouster of SEMG coordinator Chopra has been withdrawn. Kay said he has not seen the letter. Well here it is: Inner City Press exclusively obtained, reported and published it. Has it been withdrawn?


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