LasAnod is Somaliland own goal, but also Somali problem
EDITORIAL | Somaliland may squarely take the blame for LasAnod clashes for responding to protests with an iron hand. The leadership in Hargeisa has a bigger chunk of blame because they fueled this fire, taking weeks to put a stop to the violence.
Deploying armed security agents to crack down on hapless civilians protesting for their rights wasn’t wise. History will judge Somaliland in their own currency once the dust settles on who actually should account for the misdeeds.
But LasAnod is now a Somali problem. Last week, the UN Population Fund (UNFPA) revealed damning figures on the situation, showing that many women and children have been hurt in one way or another. Already, at least 170 people have been killed and 500 others injured. As many as 188,000 civilians have been internally displaced. Some 15000 school children are unable to attend school because their schools are shut.
These figures are not just statistics; they make a bad humanitarian situation worse. The UN agencies say they need $ 1.5 million to deal with an emerging crisis. That is not to mention the more than 7 million people facing hunger in Somalia due to drought and insecurity.
How should Somalia respond to this? Of course, Las Anod is a problem that could have been avoided. Somaliland cannot be forcing people to toe lines they see as illegal. A self-declared ‘democracy,’ the least we should have seen from Hargeisa was to allow dialogue.
Somaliland didn’t. Somalia must now do better. First, there is an urgent need to respond to humanitarian needs. The second is to look for a permanent solution.
Las Anod elders suggested they want to be directly administered from Mogadishu by the Federal Government. What will that mean? Somalia has largely been run on gentlemen’s agreements so Las Anod calls for a rethinking of how a legal regime can create permanent stability.
The villagers wouldn’t be desperate to be heard if Somalia’s institutions were strong and working. Instead, they felt they were under the inconvenient weight of Somaliland which they don’t see as a symbol of Somali unity.
We are going to face an immediate problem of having people eat something and sleep under a roof. But we may be sweeping it under the carpet if we move on after peace resumes. The concerns raised by elders must be addressed. Feelings of discrimination need to be looked into. An entire region raising grievances shouldn’t be ignored. In any case, it should jolt Somali leadership to learn how to solve the problems of the people without waiting for bloodshed.
Somalia already has many problems to deal with. It doesn’t need another cause of nightmares. But it has to act or learn to act in time.