Friday, January 13, 2006

Put Somaliland On The Map, Says British MP

Bristol Mp Kerry McCarthy is calling on the Government to recognise the Republic of Somaliland after intensive lobbying from community leaders in the city. Ms McCarthy wants ministers to champion the case of the self-declared republic on the world stage and increase aid to its impoverished population.

There are between 7,000 and 10,000 Somalis living in mainly the Barton Hill, Easton and St Paul's areas of Bristol - many of whom are originally from Somaliland. These areas are in Ms McCarthy's Bristol East constituency.

Somaliland unilaterally declared itself independent from Somalia after the country descended into a devastating civil war in 1991.

The republic established a reputation for peace and stability - in contrast to the rest of Somalia - but remains unrecognised by other governments or the United Nations.

International recognition would lead to more inward investment and aid from other countries.

Ms McCarthy agreed to take up the issue after she met a delegation of Bristol Somali leaders including Kayse Maxamed, editor of the Somali Voice newspaper, and Mustafah Mahmood, vice-chair of Support Somaliland, in Westminster.

Speaking after the meeting, the MP said:

"There is a real need for aid, development work and support for the government there.

"It seems to me there has got to be some move inter nationally.

"There should be recognition of its independence - or at the very least an EU position on this.

"The EU could change its position to 'We think Somaliland should be recognised'.

"We have a situation here where the people of the country want fully recognised independence.

"However, because of other issues in Somalia, the priorities of that government are elsewhere."

Voters in Somaliland elected MPs in September - the first time since the territory declared independence 14 years ago.


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