Thursday, October 7, 2021
By Liban Ahmad
“Every human being shall have the right to be protected against being arbitrarily displaced from his or her home or place of habitual residence.”Somaliland defended the arbitrary displacement under the pretext of dealing with “selected individuals, who had unlawfully settled in the district of Las Anod, provincial capital of Sool region…” A Somali citizen has a right to live in any part of the Federal Republic of Somalia. Although Somaliland unilaterally seceded from Somalia in 1991, it is a part of the Federal Republic Somalia, a fact attested to by the United Nations Security Council Resolutions reaffirming the territorial and political unity of the country.
The arbitrary displacement of more than 1000 people in Las Anod authorised by the Somaliland government constitutes a violation of the United Nations Guiding Principles on Internal Displacement. According to principle six, arbitrary displacement is prohibited “when it is based on policies of apartheid, "ethnic cleansing" or similar practices aimed at/or resulting in altering the ethnic, religious or racial composition of the affected population.” The fact that the people who were arbitrarily displaced from Las Anod have internally displaced people from Southern Somalia in the first place makes the violation more drastic.
Some of the people whom Somaliland militias in Las Anod arbitrary displaced were born in Las Anod, some lived in the district for more than 25 years, own business and properties there.
The same principle prohibits arbitrary displacement “when it is used as a collective punishment.” Somaliland government justifies the arbitrary displacement in response “to issues pertaining to security”. The Somaliland government looks upon the victims of the arbitrary displacement as “individuals [who] were putting the safety of the local population at risk.” More than 20% of arbitrarily displaced people are children. Some parents were forced to leave behind their children, who were at school when militias rounded up before the expulsion.
Somalia has a recognised government whose duty is to protect the right of the Somali citizen to live in any part of the nation state, but it lacks the authority to discharge this constitutional duty. This governance anomaly should have been partly offset by Somaliland government, a subnational entity, in line with the Somali Compact “to address the development needs of the Somali population who are displaced inside the country, or returning from surrounding countries.”
How can Somalia’s International Partners help the Federal Government of Somalia to dissuade Somaliland authorities from arbitrary displacement in violation of the human rights of the Somali citizens? Somaliland government has shown that its standards fall short of an entity seeking to secede from a country. Its actions have created distress throughout Somalia given the plight of the helpless internally displaced people whom the Somaliland government had forced to leave Las Anod. People who authorised and abetted the arbitrary displacement in Las Anod must be held accountable for what the victims of the arbitrary displacement are going through.