By: Qassim Hussein Hasan
HARGEISA (Somalilandsun) – Over five hundred Ethiopians resident in Somaliland have been briefed on their country’s new Diaspora Policy.
The briefing to the Ethiopian Community association members from Hargeisa, Burao, Borame and Togwajale by the Ethiopian ambassador General Berhe Tesfaye was conducted at the Ethiopian Consulate General office in Hargeisa where they were urged to deepen their participation in development efforts and harness accrued benefits.
The meeting reviewed the status of previous performances in providing appropriate and possible supports to the communities, discussed in details on challenges as well as on ways of strengthening existing and new Ethiopian community associations in various towns of Somaliland with a view to establish more effective and broader support packages which will insure widest possible outreach. Participants were also briefed on the new Ethiopian Diaspora Policy aiming to deepening the Ethiopian Diasporas’ benefits and participation as well as on the Ethiopian Government’s housing scheme aiming to benefit Ethiopians including in the Diaspora. Participants also voted for new representatives who will join existing Hargeisa Ethiopian Community Association’s leaderships.
During the discussion, Head of the Ethiopian mission in Somaliland, Brigadier General Berhe Tesfay, expressed the Consulate General office’s and community associations’ readiness and devotion to provide any possible support to the Ethiopian communities living in different parts of Somaliland. He appreciated the encouraging way the Hargeisa Ethiopian Community Association has been trying to address any possible challenges the community was facing despite the fact that the Association has limited financial and material capacity on reasons related to lack of regular financial contribution of its members. Members were so far limited as compared to the estimated number of Ethiopian community residing in Hargeisa and its surroundings. Yet the Association has shown encouraging efforts as seen in its provision of community identification cards to its members which has made its efforts of seeking amicable resolutions of challenges facing its members easier. He acknowledged the encouraging role the Community Association, with the close guidance and support of the Ethiopian mission Hargeisa and in collaboration with the competent Somaliland government institutions, has played in the amicable resolution of inter-community and intra-community misunderstandings as well as in convincing several hundreds of Ethiopian community members return home, engage themselves in any work opportunities being created by the Ethiopian Government’s developmental path and lead a decent way of life.
He also said a lot deserves to be done. Existing Ethiopian community associations should be strengthened and newer ones should be established. In this regard, Brigadier General Berhe Tesfay who noted the constitutionally entrenched right of equality and the subsequently surfacing tradition of peaceful co-existence based on mutual respect and the principle of unity in diversity also pointed out the Consulate General’s readiness in providing any possible support to strengthening existing Ethiopian associations as well as to the establishment of new ones. The biggest stake lies on the community’s side as it requires them to create close, regular and sustainable relationships with both the Consulate General office and their respective existing or new associations. This he said will pave the way for broader and effective approach of providing planned support.
In his briefing on the new Ethiopian Diaspora Policy, the Consul General said that this is an indication of the Ethiopian Government’s renewed commitment towards ensuring the full benefits of and the widest possible participation of the Ethiopian Diaspora in common home affairs. The policy has lots of initiatives which will help to ensure the full respect of the rights, duties and benefits of Ethiopian Diasporas in host countries as well as at home. The Government’s housing scheme aiming those including in the Diaspora, he said, could be taken as part of the Government’s dedication of ensuring widest possible Diaspora participation and benefits. Involvement in the housing scheme will help the Diaspora to own a house of their choice with cheaper prices and without facing the onetime-payment high cost burden. His on the other hand will amount to contributing their part for their country’s development as well as in maximizing their country’s foreign currency resource base.
The Head of the Ethiopian mission in Hargeisa also noted that the Ethiopian communities’ encouraging roles in reinforcing the growing Government-to-Government as well as people-to-people relations between Ethiopia and Somaliland. He appreciated the spirit of cooperation of Ethiopian communities in every parts of Somaliland for efforts aimed at ensuring peace, security and stability in Somaliland, Ethiopia and the region at large. Their cooperation ranges from exposing any criminal activities including contraband traders to both sides and this has been a reinforcing practice towards the two sides desire of promoting fair trade. Other activities they have involved include on uncovering any anti-civilian disruptive plots orchestrated by anti-peace elements including ONLF and OLF and bringing the perpetrators into justice. This he said was one of the indications of the Ethiopian peoples’ uniform stand and commitment towards mutual existence and shared growth with neighbors on one hand and against extremism and their desire of building a nation where its existing and coming generations will lead their lives undisturbed on the other hand. This proudly practice, Brigadier General Berhe Tesfay said, should continue uninterrupted but broadened.
Answering questions from participants, the Consul General said the Consulate General office would possess good reasons to provide passports and ID cards to members of the Ethiopian community in Somaliland if they could establish stronger and broader associations characterized by regular members dedicated to regular and meaningful engagements of supporting each other. He said the Consulate General office could organize such discussions every six month or any time shorter as deemed necessary make every demand a possible scenario. A separate discussion was also held with leaders of Ethiopian community associations in Hargeisa, Burao, Borama and Togo Wajale in Somaliland where they agreed on workable future directions to ensure the respective communities rights and benefits as well as their widest possible participation in Ethiopia’s development including through uncovering anti-peace elements, investment and bond purchasing.