Informs the Ethiopian Consul General in Hargeisa where he also disclosed the neighbouring country’s position as pertains ongoing multi-sectored partnership deliberations, arrest and deportation of illegal migrants, concerted war on human trafficking as well as how Addis Ababa perceives the Khatumoist secession movement in Somaliland.
By: Yusuf M Hasan
HARGEISA (Somalilandsun) – While the Ethiopian Consulate in Hargeisa has resumed full issuance of Visas on genuine applicants shall be accorded legal travel to the neighbouring country.
This was disclosed by the Ethiopian Consul General in Hargeisa Gen Berhe Tesfaye during a candid interview with Somalilandsun in his offices where he also revealed that recent consultative discussions with Somaliland officials are expected to culminate in a bi-lateral agreement to be signed in Addis Ababa soon.
Decrying the impatience of Somalilanders especially as pertains the on-the –spot demand for visas Brig Tesfaye informed that all visa applications shall be received by consul staff in Hargeisa but only those fulfilling criteria determined by close scrutiny shall be allowed legal entry into Ethiopia.
Said he, “Although we are aware that Addis Ababa is the only Gateway to the rest of the world that Somalilanders currently have we shall not be forced to issue visas to any person who does not meet requirements”
The diplomat also urged some Somaliland politicians and government officials to desist from the practice of approaching the Consul General in company of a large retinue of relatives for whom they demand expedited visa issuance.
“Related staff at our visa section are professionals thus do not acknowledge the status of applicants during the processing thence a futile exercise for anyone to assume that his/her office is qualification enough” said Brig Tesfaye while stressing on the importance of local citizens wishing to visit Ethiopia for one purpose or another to approach the Consulate personally and maintain patience as applications are processed.
Acknowledging that the resumption of visa issuance took longer than anticipated General Tesfaye attributed the anomaly to delays in availing related stickers from the parent ministry in Addis Ababa as well as internal reorganizations that have ensued with elimination of corrupt practices and subsequent firing and arrest of consulate staff who are to face maladministration charges back home.
On the recent crackdown on illegal migrants by local officials in various parts of Somaliland the Ethiopian Diplomat said that just as his country treats Somalilanders humanely the same is expected from local authorities in their handling of Ethiopians especially illegal migrants.
This was in reference to the dissipated crackdown of illegal migrants by Somaliland authorities in which a large number of Ethiopians were nabbed and deported to their country in a fashion termed haphazard and discriminatory.
“All Ethiopians regardless of tribe or geographical area of origin are equal in the eyes of law and should be treated as such both at home and abroad” said the diplomat while castigating the manner utilized to arrest illegal’s who were incidentally all Ethiopians in country with many foreigners in residence or on illegal migration transit.
While stating that the government in Addis Ababa has put all relevant apparatus to fight human traffickers at the disposal of Somaliland the resident attaché did not mince words in his castigation of the discriminatory tactics utilized thus targeting Ethiopians only and more so those from the Oromo tribe.
“We shall fully support efforts by Somaliland to eliminate illegal immigration and human trafficking as well but we have strongly express disapproval of the systematic targeting of Ethiopians as well as the inhuman manner utilized in arrests and subsequent deportations that were very humiliating.
The envoy who is the only one running a fully sanctioned Diplomatic mission in the yet to be recognized republic of Somaliland stressed on the fact that the issue pertaining to the handling of illegal migrants from Ethiopia was of major concern thus making it part of agenda of the just concluded highly level consultations between Addis and Hargeisa authorities held in the port city of Berbera.
For three days from the 28th February 2016 a team of Ethiopian government officials and multi-sectored experts led by Ambassador Suleiman Dedefa who is charged with handling his country’s foreign investment with neighbouring states parleyed their Somaliland counterparts led by minister of Trade and investment Eng Hussein Aden Deyr in Berbera.
illuminating that the outcome of the 4th SL-Ethio Technical Committee Meeting shall be put to pen in Addis Ababa in a short while Brigadier Berhe Tesfaye was quick to comment the participants from both sides since policies issues were top of the agenda as opposed to earlier meets that concentrated on mundane issues like, a Somaliland car nabbed in Ethiopia’s Zone five or such.
Said he, “At the 4th SL-Ethio Technical Committee Meeting three major issues were discussed and properly designed guidelines agreed upon namely as pertains to Security, Port Services and Illegal Immigration and the talks substance can be verified by the establishment of the five hectares Ethiopian Cargo Yard at the Berbera port which was launched in the sidelines of the meeting”
On the yet to be completed Berbera Corridor that is designed to handle trade between Somaliland and Ethiopia and in lieu the importance attached the experts were in concurrence on the “AS IS’ need to propel arrangements forward while remaining infrastructural developments are finalized.
The Ethiopians who raised the issue of the inhumane manner that saw illegal migrants of Ethiopian descent humiliated are reported to have been satisfied by response of Somaliland authorities who appear to have either put the crackdown on hold or cease it completely.
“At the table the Ethiopian fully aware of the devastation caused in both countries by the scourge of illegal immigration in which many of its citizens as well as those of Somaliland lose life at times, promised to enhance cooperation in the war against Human traffickers who run a very lucrative cross border trade in which Ethiopians transit Somaliland while Addis Ababa is the conduit for local citizens”
On other aspects of the two teams deliberations the Consul general revealed that Security which is dear to both countries and the wider region as well, agreed to not only enhance existing partnership but strengthen use of resources and intelligence.
According to B/Gen. Berha Tesfaye illegal immigration is also of security concern to both countries as militants with allegiance to terror groups operating locally or international like Al-shabaab, ONLF, OLF and ISIS etc are known to crisscross borders under charge of unsuspecting human traffickers who are only interested in the size of the wallet.
Ethiopia remains active in the international war on terror in which it currently deploys forces to Somalia as part of over twenty thousand strong AMISOM troops sanctioned by the African Union to fight Al-Shabaab a terrorist group battling the Somalia Federal Government for control of the war-torn country.
Queried on the secession movement that aspires to a Khatumo state of Somalia to be hived off some parts of Eastern Somaliland, Brigadier General Berha Tesfaye a soldier turned Diplomat who was of the opinion that internal issues were solely to be handled at that level was also very categorical on the fact that the government of Ethiopia does not “Recognize any state called Khatumo”
On the issue of the Khatumo secession leader Prof Ali Khalif Galayd regularly escaping local security forces thus seeking safety in Ethiopia’s Zone five Somalia administrative regions or his reported traversing the country to or from activities of insecurity in Somaliland the diplomat responded
“Not only does the Ethiopian Government not recognize the so called Khatumo state but are actually in constant lookout for its leadership or other operatives who shall be captured whenever found in any part of Ethiopia”
The Government of Somaliland is currently at a stand-off with the secessionists within Sool region where the Khatumo leader is currently stemming trouble in Buhodle district while Hargeisa dispatched minister of health Dr Suleiman Haglatosie is poised to evict him, Prof Galayd, Forcefully.
Stressing on the no acceptance no acknowledgment stand on the Khatumo secession by his government General Berha Tesfaye who revealed that a committee composed of the Ethiopian armed forces eastern command based in Dire Dawe, Zone five and Somaliland authorities in Jigjiga and Hargeisa is charged with protecting mutual boundaries further reminded of the deportation of Prof Galayd from Addis Ababa as a good example.
Keep watch of this site for conclusive developments of the Ethio-SL memorandum of understanding.
Copyright: Somalilandsun, 2016. www.somalilandsun.com