SOMALIA: IDPs return as calm returns to Sool region

Published: September 15, 2010

WIDH-WIDH, 15 September 2010 (IRIN) – Almost all of the hundreds of households displaced after clashes between the Somaliland army and the pro-Somali union, Sool, Sanaag and Cayn (SSC) group in Sool’s Widh-widh district have returned home as calm returns, say officials.
SSC, named after the respective regions that are claimed by both Somaliland and the self-declared autonomous region of Puntland, says it is fighting for the liberation of the regions while Somaliland says it is defending its territories.
Somaliland unilaterally declared statehood in 1991 but has yet to gain formal recognition.
“The displaced people have all come back to the town,” Garad Abshir Salah, a traditional leader, said. “We have held a meeting with the people in Widh-widh discussing the issue of insecurity and we have decided to pursue our rights peacefully.
“We have been contacted by the new committee assigned to deal with the issue, and we have agreed to continue our discussion later,” added Salah.
The committee was nominated by Somaliland President Ahmed Mohamed Mohamoud Silanyo in late August to address insecurity in the eastern regions. The SSC leadership, however, insists it will only negotiate if Somaliland forces quit the territories.
“If they [Somaliland authorities] use traditional contacts, we can start talks to work together for the peace and co-existence of the people and discuss our differences. But for as long as their militia is in our regions, we will not accept any talks,” Ali Hassan Sabarey, SSC’s deputy chairman, told IRIN in late August.
Mohamed Isse, an elder in Widh-widh, told IRIN by telephone that fewer than 10 percent of the displaced had yet to return.
“But the problem is that the people have nothing to rebuild their lives with because they lost all their resources when they were displaced. Nothing was looted but everyone used up his resources during displacement,” said Isse.
“Now, the Somaliland army is stationed in Widh-widh and we are working together to keep the security.”
According to the army commander, Gen. Nouh Ismail Tani, Widh-widh is now “one of the safest places in Somaliland”.
“Even [before] the army had no problem with the innocent people but they ran, afraid of being hit by stray bullets.”
Source:  IRIN

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