Deportees from Somaliland suffering in Puntland

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Hundreds of people deported from Somaliland a year ago are still languishing in camps in Puntland. Rights groups condemned the forced evictions from Las Anood of families, mainly from Somalia’s South West region. The authorities in Somaliland accused them of spreading insecurity and supporting Al Shabaab, which has a powerful presence in south-western Somalia.

Luul Mohamud and her family of 12 are living in a displacement camp in Waaberi on the outskirts of the port city of Bosaso. She was one of the first people to be evicted from Las Anood towards the end of last year. Like the other deportees, she says she has never supported Al Shabaab and had moved to Somaliland to escape drought and conflict.

“I lived in Las Anood for 30 years and gave birth to 10 children there, including one who is disabled,” she said. “I worked as a cleaner, sweeping the roads, public places and businesses in the city.”

“My husband was sick but I was working as were some of my children so we had enough to get by.”

Luul says she was given no notice of her eviction and that the family left with nothing, ending up hundreds of kilometres away in Puntland.

The United Nations expressed concern about the arrest and forced displacement of thousands of people which began in October 2021. It said hundreds of deportees ended up stranded in Puntland with no shelter, water, sanitation or health facilities. Many were put in trucks and not allowed to go home to collect their belongings.

Mohamed Abdulqadir Ibrahim and his family also live in the Waaberi camp. Before he was deported from Las Anood, he worked in construction and drove a rickshaw.

“The security forces confiscated my work tools and my rickshaw,” he said. “I still don’t understand why they did that to me. I have never committed any crime. I worked hard to support my two wives and three children. The security forces said that as I had obtained my tools and rickshaw in Somaliland, I had to leave them there.”

Most of the deportees are unable to return to their homes in South West region as it is so insecure.

The director of the Department of Social Affairs in Bosaso, Ali Ahmed Mohamud, said the Puntland authorities were trying to help the displaced people but lacked the resources to do so.

“We have called on international organisations to assist them. We are still waiting. We do what we can but we need outside help.”

He says the deportees live peacefully with the local population and do not cause any problems. But they are stuck without a future, expelled from a city where they had managed to build new lives and unable to return to their home region because of the ongoing conflict.