This emerged following bilateral talks between Tanzanian foreign affairs minister Bernard Membe and South Africa's international relations and co-operation minister Maite Nkoana-Mashabane in Pretoria on Saturday.
Membe said that he would be meeting a delegation from Somaliland within the next two weeks, but would not comment on the details of the talks until they had happened.
Both Membe and Nkoana-Mashabane said they would prefer to see Somalia remain as a single country. Nkoana-Mashabane said: "Somaliland at the moment in our memory is part of Somalia. We do not want to encourage the disintegration of countries. For now in line with the AU we are not in the business of not disbanding, dismantling and dismembering countries."
In May Somalia's breakaway Somaliland state celebrated 20 years since it split from the rest of Somalia. To date no country has officially recognised the former British protectorate in the north of Somalia despite the fact that it has enjoyed relative stability unlike the rest of Somalia which has been plagued by famine and war. But while this situation persists, Somaliland runs the risk of becoming another famine region is international action is not taken quickly, activists warned.
"The drought and famine situation has driven people out of their homes, forcing them to flee to towns and cities in Somaliland. Amid the challenge of Somaliland not being recognized by the international community as a sovereign government, most regions including Maroodijeeh, Sahil, Toghdheer, Sanaag, Awdal, and Sool are witnessing an increase in suffering of women, children, youth and the elderly living in IDP (Internally Displaced People) camps in rural and peri-urban areas. People are constantly on the move for searching food, water and shelter," Farah explained.
"In some areas in Somaliland, more than half of the population is malnourished and more than one in four people are severely malnourished. This is twice the threshold for a humanitarian emergency and the highest malnutrition rate in the world. A quarter of the Somali population is now displaced and majority need assistance in Somaliland. According to FSNAU and FEWSNET, the situation is unlikely to improve until January 2012."
The NGO which is presently distributing food to sustain 300 families in Sin Arro, Lasa janno, Dhabar Mamac, Daraweyne and Hamilka has called on the international community to L"act now and save lives in Somaliland". "Most of famine aid is presently centered in the South Central of Somalia (Mogadishu), leaving other regions like Somaliland without support and assistance. The humanitarian response in Somaliland has been chronically underfunded, and inadequate to meet emergency needs in a fast deteriorating situation."
His report continued: "The drought has caused a food crisis in Somaliland which threatens the livelihood of millions. There is starvation, disease, and daily death. The level of human suffering has reached horrific proportions and famine will occur if humanitarian organization fail to step in." Farah said the primary needs are for food, nutrition, clean water, sanitation, health care, livelihood support, protection and shelter. "Too many children die after reaching already populated and suffering refugee camps. Many more die on the way as people migrate in search of assistance. The needs are vast and people in Somaliland grow more desperate daily."
In Tasco's latest report issued on Sunday, Farah said despite heavy rain in Hargeisa earlier this week, the water shortage was visible everywhere in Sanag region. Most of the water wells have collapsed and need to be rehabilitated. Water Reservoirs have dried up and most of them are damaged. In Sanaag region, we observed that even the shallow wells adn open water places need to be reconstructed."
Long term help
According to Farah, the immediate need is for more bilateral, diverse and long-term funding to meet the range of needs. "Tasco is currently soliciting more support and assistance from different sources locally and internationally. To consolidate the drought response support, Tasco's Drought Response Team approach is supported by the Ministry of Mining Energy and Water Resources, heads of regional authorities, district heads and villages elders. The team was carefully selected in a participatory manner and it played a role in establishing response support mechanisms and deliver supplies to affected households and communities."
In his book published last year, Somaliland: An African Struggle for Nationhood and International Recognition, Prof Iqbal Jazbhay of Unisa tells and inspiring story of resilience and reconstruction in that country. According to the academic, Somaliland represents a true African Renaissance that has many lessons to teach the rest of Africa and the international community. The study seeks to identify some of those lessons, particularly those pertaining to Somaliland’s sustained efforts to create internal unity and gain regional and international recognition.
Speaking to VOC last week, Jazbhay said countries like South Africa who were friendly to Somaliland and whom the Somalis held in respect, needed to create a space for them to use their own "homegrown, indigenous/Islamic methods to bring about a peace pact". At present, he said there was too much external meddling. "Somalis trust South Africans. They are of the view that we don't have any sinister agendas.
If that is the assumption with which we work, then SA as a government can indeed provide a space for Somalis to come up with a peace pact in the long term so that southern Somalia does not experience the conflict we have just seen; it could more follow the route of Somaliland," he told VOC's Open Lines on Wednesday.
Meanwhile, those who would like to assist can make deposits into an account held in the name of Taakulo Somaliland Community, Dahabshiil Bank International, account number 101400, Swift Code DBISD332.
By VOC (Munadia Karaan)