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Somaliland authorities detain hundreds of Somalis in mass expulsion operation targeting 'foreigners'

Saturday October 2, 2021

Witnesses said at least 9 trucks used in the forced expulsion. Somaliland authorities did not say if it would provide compensation for businesses or property.

Hargeisa (HOL) - Police in the breakaway state of Somaliland have forcibly repatriated over 700 men, women and children from Las Anod, the administrative capital of the Sool region, to the Mudug region on Saturday.

The Somaliland administration said it was a deportation operation, and that those rounded up in lorries on Saturday were not Somaliland nationals.

Sool Regional Police Commander, Ahmed Abdillahi Abdi, said that Somaliland would not give Somali's any special treatment as any other foreign group.

"People from Somalia who are being deported are in the same situation as people deported from Saudi Arabia."

The Somaliland government said that the forced repatriation of Somali nationals is necessary to achieve its security and economic objectives.

It said that the operation was aimed at foreign hawkers and business owners in Las Anod.

One resident, who asked not to be identified, said that he welcomed the move and that the local community had pleaded to Somaliland officials to act. The individual suggested to HOL that an uptick of violence in Las Anod that targeted officials from the government and opposition parties could be traced back to "non-registered foreigners."

HOL could not find any evidence to corroborate the claims but it appears that the sentiment is shared by the Somaliland government.

Somaliland's Sool Regional Police Commander, Ahmed Abdillahi Abdi. FILE PHOTO

According to witnesses, the Somaliland government began rounding people up shortly after evening prayers when most people would be at home. The operation started in enclaves in Las Anod that Somali people who hail from clans in southern Somalia reside.

At least 700 people - including women and children - were taken to Abdi Bile stadium in Las Anod and placed onto lorries bound for the Mudug region.

NUSOJ, a union representing Somali journalists, confirmed that Somaliland police have arrested a journalist for covering the mass arrest.

Mowlid Ismail Diged, the Director of Halbeeg Media, was arrested as he filmed people being loaded onto lorries at Abdi Bile stadium. His equipment was also confiscated, and Somaliland police deleted footage.

NUSOJ said it condemned the mass arrest and expulsion and the arrest of a journalist.

Mowlid Ismail Diged was arrested while trying to cover the forced repatriation operation. Photo: NUSOJ

Abbas Samaw Mohamed Hassan is one of the hundreds of people who Somaliland forcibly expelled on Saturday. He originally hails from the Southwestern region of Somalia.

Hassan told local media that the trucks were bound for Galkayo.

"We were arrested this morning and being taken to Galkayo. They told us that we are 700 people. We were transported in nine trucks, and Somaliland troops escorted us." said Hassan.

He said that the soldiers did not give them an official explanation on why they were being expelled or what would happen to their businesses.


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