Somalilandsun: Somaliland has upon guidelines issue by the national Covid-19 prophylactic committee suspended flights from a number of countries as well as closed its borders while exempting movement of essential goods.
These guidelines that became effective on the 19th march 2020 also entail closure of all educational institutions, banning all social activities like sports-weddings, banning of workshops as well as well as restricting prayer hours at all mosques in the country.
Despite these measures geared towards preventing the spread of corona virus in Somaliland where two cases have so far been confirmed Ethiopian airlines continues to shuttle passengers through regular flights to Egal international airport in Hargeisa.
At the same time border closure between Somaliland and Ethiopia now very effective as pertains cross border movement by people also sees regular movement of goods from and into the two countries more so khat a stimulant herb grown in Ethiopia and widely consumed in Somaliland.
According to the minister of interior Mohamed Kahin Ahmed who is also a member of the national Covid-19 prophylactic committee flights by Ethiopian airlines cannot be suspended since the airliner is currently the only gateway to the rest of the world that Somaliland has.
“Ethiopian airlines is stringently adhering to the Covid -19 guidelines issued by Somaliland authorities namely that only citizens of this country can be flown in, while no flights emanating from a number of virus infected like Iran, Italy, other EU countries, Kenya and north America end at Egal international airport in Hargeisa? Said Mohamed Kahin
Revealing that the government is aware that some people are claiming that the preference given to Ethiopian airlines is as a result of its support given to Somaliland during the recent claim by Somalia that it controls our airspace thence banning all international flights, the interior minister said that this is mere propaganda devoid of facts.
During the matter in which the federal government of Somalia banned all international flights as a corona virus preventive measure Ethiopian Airlines did not adhere to the Mogadishu banned and continued its flights to Egal international airport Hargeisa unabated.
The flight suspension order from Mogadishu was nevertheless adhered to by two Gulf countries based international operators Flydubai and air Arabia whose licenses were subsequently revoked by Somaliland thence only the Addis Ababa based airliner sole supremacy.
“Let’s forget the politics of who controls what and think about how we can contain and subsequently manage the virus pandemic that has overpowered many developed and world leading countries like the US, and others in Europe now being assisted by China and Russia” said the minister adding that if we suspend all flights how shall we an unrecognized and poor African country survive the virus
“Ethiopian airlines has always been and remains the only gateway to the international community for Somaliland and suspension of these flights will take an earth moving event to cancel” stated minister Mohamed Kahin
On the issue of the much discussed continue import of Khat from Ethiopia which has confirmed numerous corona virus infection cases, the minister said that the national Covid 19 committee is pursuing matters related to the ongoing imports of the stimulant herb closely.
In justifying why Khat imports were not included in the initial ban order minister Kahin said “Though millions of dollars are expended by the import of these commodity we should also be aware that the trade is the second biggest employer in the country the civil service being the first while it is also a major source of government revenue.
“While the national committee established by president Muse Bihi and chaired by his deputy Abdirahman Sayli is considering the economic ramifications of suspending khat, imports will continue as usual” concluded the Somaliland interior minister Mohamed Kahin Ahmed