Somaliland: a place that doesn't exist?
One of my pet causes is that of Somaliland. It is a self-declared republic in the Horn of Africa wedged between Somalia and Djibouti. Somaliland is in what used to be the northern part of Somalia but broke away to form its own country when Somalia disintegrated. Somaliland is a normal democracy with elections and functioning institutions, such as a government, judiciary, independent press and schools. Problem is that no country in the world recognizes the Republic of Somaliland. The international community would compel the reasonably well-functioning Somaliland to remain part of the disaster that is Somalia.
There is a lot about Somaliland at the interesting Taste of Africa blog. It is maintained by Yvette, who is a development worker inside Somaliland. She has links to nearly everything Somaliland that is out on the web.
In one of her entries, entitled Somaliland: A Place That Does Not Exist?, she quotes Simon Reeve, a New York Times writer and best-selling author. "A friend of mine mentioned that he was doing business with some Somalilanders. I said, "Somaliland? Where's that?" He said it was a country in the north of Somalia and to my shame I didn't know anything about it. I found out that it's a functioning state within Somalia. It seemed extraordinary to me that there is no real government in Somalia but the world recognises it as a country, and then there's Somaliland which has elections and a functioning democracy, but the world doesn't recognise it as a proper country."
That pretty much says it all.
It became one of my pet causes, not because I've been there or because I know someone from there. But from the sheer absurdity of the situation. An absurdity exemplifed by Reeve's comments.