July 22, 2012 ·30 Comments
BURAO — Hundreds of families in Somaliland’s second largest city of Burao were left displaced, as authorities began to demolish their homes this week to build an airport.
The minister of aviation, Mohamud Hashi Abdi visited the central town on Saturday to formally launch the first stage of the construction project. The minister was accompanied by members of parliament, deputy ministers, local administration of Togdheer region and hundreds of police personnel.
His arrival prompted the local authorities to begin demolishing hundreds of shops and homes near the country’s oldest airport premises. People have been building homes in the area unimpeded since the collapse of Somalia’s central government two decades ago.
The police led by the British financed SPU and RRU forcibly evicted hundreds of families with many not knowing where to go.
The residents told local reporters that they were given short notifications ordering them to leave the area within days. Those who did not have the chance or money to even relocate their kiosks and makeshift homes saw their properties get bulldozed by the local administration.
Many have called on President Ahmed Silanyo to intervene saying they were been uprooted without being provided with adequate alternative housing or even land to settle.
Under international law the government is required to provide some support and decent resettlement plan for the families affected by this eviction. The evicted families have been offered no compensation or other form of assistance thus far.
While many residents welcome the rehabilitation of the country’s oldest airport built by the British in 1940s, many expressed concern about the homeless families.
“We are robbed of our livelihood and we have no where to go. We are not against the project but the local administration does not care about the poor and most vulnerable,” one resident, who wishes to remain anonymous, told media.
Others requested urgent assistance as many will tonight sleep under the open sky with no food or shelter. They called on the government in Hargeisa to provide them with land to relocate and an emergency aid. They said their situation was desperate and it was not clear who will use an airport when many families have no place to even sleep.
This is not the first time people were forcibly evicted in Somaliland with short or without prior notifications.
The aviation minister has promised to improved airports in the country with works already underway in Berbera and Hargeisa despite controversial tender deal over Hargeisa’s airport.
Mohamud Hashi Abdi awarded China Hono Group (CHG), a Chinese mineral explorer, a contract worth $4,436,000 four months ago to upgrade Egal International Airport despite lacking construction experience and equipment (see China Hono Group brings some equipment after a month for Egal Airport).
July 22, 2012Follow @somalilandpress
By Hassan Ali