NAIROBI—The international community in Somalia has condemned the escalating conflict in Las Anod just two days after SSC-Khatumo (Sool, Sanaag and Ceyn) forces took control of two key military bases from Somaliland army.
In a joint statement on Sunday afternoon, the International Community called for cessation of hostilities.
“Friends of the international community strongly condemn the escalation of conflict in Lasanood, including reports that the fighting has spread outside the city.
“We urge all parties to agree to an immediate and unconditional ceasefire. We call for an end to the mobilization of fighters, and the provision of supplies and weapons. We are deeply concerned by reports that there are large numbers of prisoners, and we expect those involved to comply with human rights law and international humanitarian law, especially the protection of civilians and community infrastructure,” the statement said in part.
— UNSOM (@UNSomalia) August 27, 2023
It continued that: “We reiterate the importance of ensuring unhindered access to humanitarian aid and assistance to those in need. We urge all parties to refrain from divisive rhetoric. All complaints and tensions should be resolved through peaceful dialogue.”
However, some people labelled the remarks “too little, too late.”
I strongly criticize the international community and its recent statement. For the past eight months, #Laascaanood has been subjected to unrelenting shelling, resulting in significant casualties and the displacement of a large number of residents. Unfortunately, the international… pic.twitter.com/OpMzPGp4Kq
— Elham Garaad ✍︎ (@EGaraad_) August 27, 2023
On Saturday, the president of Somalia’s separatist region of Somaliland vowed revenge on the local forces that the previous day seized a major base belonging to his army.
The breakaway region has seen months of conflict between Somaliland troops and SSC-Khatumo forces challenging the authorities of the self-proclaimed republic, which declared independence from Somalia in 1991 but has not been recognised internationally.
On Friday the SSC militia said it had taken the base of Goojacade in the Sool region, of which the city of Las Anod, claimed by both Somaliland and the neighbouring autonomous region of Puntland, is the capital.
“People should not be discouraged due to the fighting even though there are losses inflicted on the army,” Somaliland President Muse Bihi Abdi told a Saturday press conference in his capital Hargeisa.
“That should not be perceived negatively because the army is still intact and we will take our revenge against the alliance that perpetrated” the attack, he vowed, insisting the people “should not be fearing further escalation of the situation and war.”
Las Anod resident Abdilatif Adan told AFP by phone that “the situation is calm today. There is no fighting but there is massive military mobilisation going on.” But he added, “people here are tense since they don’t know what is going to happen next.”
Tensions have persisted since hundreds died in the February fighting. Medical charity Doctors Without Borders said in July it had to stop work at Las Anod’s general hospital, citing “recurrent attacks on medical facilities and the level of extreme violence in Las Anod (which) have reached the threshold where MSF is no longer able to provide medical care”.
On February 16, the UN humanitarian affairs office estimated more than 185,000 people had fled the violence.
Somaliland, a region of 4.5 million people, is a former British protectorate that prints its own currency, issues its own passports and elects its own government.
But its quest for statehood has gone unrecognised, leaving it poor and isolated, albeit relatively stable in comparison to Islamist insurgency and civil war-torn Somalia.
[Additional reports by the AFP]