Netherland(ANN)Minister for European Affairs and International Cooperation Ben Knapen paid a visit today to Somaliland, a region in the North of Somalia. His agenda included a meeting with Somaliland’s president, Ahmed Mohamed Mohamoud, and its foreign minister.Somaliland has been stable forseveral years
and held democratic elections last year. Mr Knapen said that the rest of Somalia could learn from Somaliland’s experiences with stability and democratisation. Acceptance of government authority and a policy of active prevention is helping to stave off piracy. ‘No piracy attacks are launched from the coast of Somaliland. It is important to ensure that instability and piracy in the neighbouring region does not spread to Somaliland’, Mr Knapen said during his visit to Hargeisa, the capital of Somaliland.
The minister visited the Hargeisa prison where 87 pirates tried by Somaliland are incarcerated. The Netherlands plans to contribute a million euros, via the UN Office on Drugs and Crime, for the construction of a new prison, for pirates and other offenders, and measures to strengthen the justice system. This will increase the capacity available for imprisoning pirates in the region and UNODC’s involvement guarantees compliance with international standards.
In the presence of the Speaker of the House of Representatives, Mr Knapen laid the first stone for a new parliament building. The Netherlands is donating €700,000 for construction and for training parliamentarians and support staff. Earlier in the day, he visited a camp for displaced Somalis. Their presence sometimes leads to tension with the local population. Through the UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR) the Netherlands is supporting temporary accommodation for internally displaced persons throughout Somalia. ‘When Somalia is safer these displaced persons can return home’, said the Minister.
Somaliland declared its independence from Somalia in 1991. However, the international community does not recognise the unilateral declaration. Increasing stability in Somaliland could boost economic development in the region and have a positive effect on Somalia. Bolstering fragile states is one of the key themes of Dutch development cooperation policy.