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Last Updated: Friday, 31 October, 2003, 10:16 GMT
Somaliland defends expulsions
By Grant Ferrett
BBC, London

The authorities in the self-declared republic of Somaliland have been defending their decision to expel tens of thousands of illegal immigrants.

Enid and Richard Eyeington
The death of Enid and Richard Eyeington shocked Somaliland
The move follows the killings of three foreign aid workers during the past month.

This was described by the Somaliland administration as a concerted attempt to destabilise the country.

Since the northern region of Somaliland broke away from the rest of Somalia 12 years ago, it has failed to secure international recognition, but it has developed a reputation for being relatively secure.

In contrast to the civil strife and absence of central government in the south, Somaliland has been largely peaceful and organised.

But its hopes of building on that reputation to gain international acceptance have been severely undermined by the killing of an Italian and two British aid workers in the space of a few weeks.


The response of the authorities has been to announce that all illegal immigrants - an estimated 77,000 people - should leave by early December.

Somaliland map
Somaliland's foreign affairs spokeswoman, Edna Adan Ismail, said that far from damaging her administration's international standing, the move was likely to enhance it.

"I think our friends would appreciate that we are taking more serious action in maintaining the stability of Somaliland," she told the BBC.

"I think it's a plus for Somaliland rather than a discredit."

Most of those who face expulsion are Somalis.

Asked how Somaliland would identify who has a right to remain in the country, the president said simply that local people knew each other well, and could distinguish foreigners.

What Somaliland fears most is being dragged back into the killings and disorder of its southern neighbour.

The danger in calling for large-scale expulsions is that the breakaway republic will contribute to the strife it seeks to avoid.

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