Travel of Somaliland Citizen on Somali Republic Passport Justified

Somalia and its symbols should not become a scarecrow for Somalilanders exercising their rights under the ill-fated union with Somalia that are still missing in dispute.

Somaliland public have the right to travel on Somali Republic passport as long as the case of Somaliland-Somalia is still pending for divorce, and the behavior of international communities does not reflect the demise of the union between Somalia and Somaliland. Somalilanders should not act as if their relationship with Somalia is over and should not either give up easily their rights DENIED through the hypocrisies of world governments favoring Somalia over Somaliland.

Enormous key issues, more important than traveling on Somali Republic passport, are still at stake and yearning for settlement in the dialogue between the two. Current government in Somalia inherited by default many of the rights belonged to the defunct Somali Republic at a time Somaliland is transitioning to a full-fledged sovereign state and at the same time battling with Somalia to reclaim its sovereign status.

The separation of Somalia and Somaliland has to occur in a legal and formal process that results in two distinct sovereign states. The union that took place in 1960 needs reversed. In the home front, that reverse has completely taken place when Somaliland decided to withdraw from the union with Somalia and embarked on a path of establishing a viable government in its territory about 28 years ago.

Somalilanders seem not deeply understanding how infused states get divorce, and the purpose of the Somalia-Somaliland talks. Many crucial rights of the Somaliland nation remain unfulfilled today, and they are unfortunately still in the control of Somalia by default.

In the world arena, the breakup is not yet formally final although it is obvious. As Somalia already assumed many seats in most intergovernmental organizations as well as international organizations in addition to UN and AU memberships by default, that does not indicate Somaliland is content with the current situation, but rather contesting and demanding its rightful position in the world as a recognized separate country.

For instance, International Telecommunication Union (ITU), a UN agency responsible for issues relating to country codes, would not entertain assigning new country code to Somaliland unless the country formally becomes a member in the UN. Therefore, the country code for both Somalia and Somaliland would remain to be 252. That does not mean that Somaliland is part and parcel of Somalia. It is an issue that has to take in its due process for resolution.

The Somali passport is no different from that of Somaliland, as there is little value to it and is not acceptable in much of the world as a travel document, except few pockets in Arabian Gulf region for well-known reasons. The Gulf States, even when Somalia had no functioning government and the Somaliland case was not appealing to them, used to accept Somali passports that was freely available on the black market for a few dollars just for the sake of the large number of Somalis and Somalilanders who work there. Well, over a hundred thousand Somalis reside in Qatar, United Arab Emirates, and Saudi Arabia alone for over five decades on foreign immigrant work visas and have no other legal travel document but the Somali Republic passport. Good portion of the Somali Expats in these three countries are Somaliland natives who come Somaliland regularly traveling on Somali Republic passports.

Few countries, including UAE, Ethiopia, and Djibouti, actually recognize Somaliland passport as a legal travel document. Somaliland citizens do not travel very often for pleasure or businesses like other people in many other parts of the world do, but once the need for foreign travel arises they resort to using Somali Republic passport. Somaliland students who get the Ethiopian government scholarships travel on Somaliland passport but those who go to other countries such as Malaysia or China have no other choice except the Somali Republic passport and so do Somaliland citizens going for Hajj to Saudi Arabia or for business anywhere else. Recent recruits of Singapore New Silk Somaliland Energy Co. destined for training in China might  travel on Somali Republic passport.

Holding two different opposing attitudes for the travel of Somaliland citizens on Somali Republic passport is outrageous and wrong. On one hand, It is OK for Somaliland Expats in the Arabian Gulf countries to possess Somali Republic passport while it is absurd for Somaliland citizens at home to travel on it for emergent opportunities and short specific trips.

Somalia has no strong governmental structures and institutions functioning outside the protection and support of AMISOM, the African Union peacekeeping forces, and hence has no complete authority over the majority of governmental functions including the regulating of the Somali Republic passport. Therefore, If this is the case, the Somali passport is a commodity available in the market and can be purchased by anyone.

So long the mediation process between Somalia and Somaliland have not yet come to an end, a passport that was once yours and the whole world honors as legal travel document makes more logic to utilize than demanding the use of Somaliland passport that is not yet as common as the old Somali Republic passport.

It is a known fact, in Somaliland, that airlines and local travel agencies knowing the process of traveling very well help travelers for medical treatments,  education, or business trips as well as the annual pilgrimage to Mecca to obtain Somali Republic passports and foreign visas. Other times, Somaliland citizens risk their lives by going to Somalia just for the sole purpose of getting the Somali Republic passport. In the meantime of resolving the Somaliland case with Somalia, establishing a provisional authority in charge of issuing Somaliland version of Somali Republic passport makes a lot of sense. This strategic move would relieve Somaliland citizens the hassle of crossing the south border and exert pressure on Somali Federal government to get serious about the dialogue with Somaliland.

Ahmed J Yassin 
Jacksonville, Florida USA


Disclaimer: Views and opinions expressed here are those of the author/authors and do not reflect views of Somaliland Intellectuals Institute (SII) and/or its sponsors or partners. SII reserves the right to edit articles before publication. To consider publishing your opinion piece or analysis please email to webmaster@somalilandintellectualsinstitute.org August 31, 2019

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