A Sheffield MP has backed calls on the Government to recognise Somaliland as a country.
Labour MP for Sheffield Central Paul Blomfield joined MPs of different parties calling for Somaliland’s recognition as its own country – and added that support from the Commons “demonstrated an exceptional unity across the House”.
Former education secretary Gavin Williamson said the UK owed a “debt of honour” to the people of Somaliland. He told the Commons that the Government should recognise Somaliland as a separate nation state from neighbouring Somalia to the south east.
Somaliland is considered by most countries around the world to be part of Somalia, but it has its own de facto government based in the city of Hargeisa.
It claims to be the successor state to the British Somaliland protectorate, and was briefly independent in 1960 before becoming part of Somalia.
A large number of people from Somaliland have made their home in Sheffield since the 1950s with the population in excess of 8,000 and in 2014 it became the first city to officially recognise Somaliland’s claim for independence.
South Staffordshire MP Mr Williamson told MPs: “We have seen the people of Somaliland pay a price for the defence of this nation both in the First World War and the Second World War.
“If you go to Somaliland you can see the Commonwealth war grave cemeteries of where so many Somalilanders gave their lives to the defence of this country and also beating fascism on the Horn of Africa.
“I think there is a debt of honour that we owe the people of Somaliland to restore the freedom to them that they actually fought to preserve for us as well.”
Mr Williamson said: “Now is really the time for the UK Government to take the lead, for the Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office not to be shy, not to think that policy is stuck in the 1960s.”
He added: “This is a country that has incredibly proud links with this country. This is a country that when we have been in need and when we have asked for help, they’ve responded by sending their young men to defend our values and our freedoms.”
The adjournment debate, usually a quiet end of day piece of Commons business with only a few MPs attending, was well-attended by both Conservative and opposition MPs.
Foreign Office minister Chris Heaton-Harris said however that the UK’s position remained unchanged.
He said: “We value the close and productive relationship with Somaliland, but in line with the rest of the international community we do not recognise it as an independent state.
“We firmly believe that it is for Somaliland and the Federal Government of Somalia to decide their future. It is for neighbours in the region to take the lead in recognising any new arrangements.”
Watch the full debate below
- The UNIQUE Case For The International Recognition Of Somaliland
- The World Can Learn From How Somaliland Overcame Militias
- Somaliland: The Little Country That Could By David Shinn
- Somaliland Is A Beacon Of Democracy In An Unstable Region
- Masuuliyiinta Xidh-Xidhan Iyo Dareemada Dhagarta Xambaarsan Ee Laga Soo Werinayo Dhinaca Madaxtooyada
- KOIGI: Acknowledge Somaliland To Cure Festering Wound On Africa