Somaliland: Overview of Humanitarian Environment
Over the past ten years, the degree of peace and stability obtained in Somaliland and the presence of viable government counterparts allowed a large number of UN agencies, INGOs and local partners to work in a coordinated manner on both humanitarian and development programmes, as the region moves ever closer to political, economic and social recovery and reconstruction.
Somaliland has an estimated population of 2 -- 3 million and broke away from Somalia in 1991 declaring 'independence' which has not been recognized to date by the international community. Somaliland did not participate in the recent peace process (2003/4) initiated in neighboring Kenya and has continued to reiterate its sovereignty. Meanwhile, a nascent democratic system has been put in place as ongoing political development and economic recovery materialize. Legislative elections were held on 29 September 2005 (following council elections in 2002 and presidential elections in 2003) which according to international observers present, were carried out in a peaceful, free and fair manner. Of the 1.2 million refugees that fled Somalia's conflict in 1991, 700,000 have returned back to Somaliland, attracted by the dynamic urban areas and relative stability of the region.
Livestock export forms the backbone of the Somaliland economy but this sector has been exposed to several shocks in recent years, including the livestock ban of 2000 (by Gulf States due to outbreak of Rift Valley Fever) and the lack of national capacity to establish necessary regulations and infrastructures to facilitate certification of animals for export. Also, some areas have experienced several years of drought which had also severely impacted on the Somaliland pastoral livelihood (60-65% of the population rely on livestock for their livelihood) causing enormous hardship as livestock losses amounted to 60-80% of herds; destitution (creating rural -- urban migration); and severe environmental degradation. However, UN agencies, INGOs and local NGOs responded to the situation, particularly in the most affected areas of Togdheer, Sanaag and Sool. Good Gu rains were received in 2005 (following on from a satisfactory Deyr rain season in 2004) but it will take a considerable amount of recovery time to restore livelihood assets, particularly livestock, to what are considered 'normal' levels.
There remains an unresolved dispute with Puntland over the
eastern regions of Sool and Sanaag that resulted in clashes, displacements and
restricted humanitarian access during 2004/5. In 2003/4 four expatriate humanitarian
workers were also killed in Somaliland, these incidents were attributed to extremists,
eight of whom were put on trial in Hargeisa during August and sentenced in November
2005. In an effort to enhance security and safety of humanitarian workers, the
UN in collaboration with the local authorities established a Special Protection
Unit (SPU) to provide protection for humanitarian workers of the UN and International
NGOs. Since then no further incidents have been reported.