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Khat trade to Somaliland normalizes

Khat trade to Somaliland normalizes

In an exclusive interview with The Reporter, Ambassador Kaysar A. Mohamed, vice-minister of Foreign Affairs of Somaliland, revealed that the temporarily interrupted Khat trade between Ethiopia and Somaliland is returning to normalcy owing to the calming down of the Somali-Oromia border conflict.

According to Ambassador A. Mohamed, the Somaliland government is aware of the interruption of the Khat trade from Ethiopia and it has got nothing to do with Somaliland. “The business is still there, but what happened was that the bulk of the Khat trade to Somaliland comes from Oromia Region of Ethiopia and because of the conflict this trade was interrupted.

“It was the traders who have decided to shift temporarily to Kenya to source their Khat because the trade route was affected by the conflict,” he told The Reporter. But, argued that government policy or demand for the product has not changed only the problem with conflict forced the shift.             

In a related news, the minister also said that there were no ethnic Oromos or Ethiopians who were forced out of Somaliland in relation to the recent border conflict between Oromia and Somali regional states of Ethiopia.

According to the vice-minister, with the exception of 300 Oromos, who were living in Somaliland illegally, or having refugee status and who then decided to leave as the conflict erupted in Ethiopia, there is no displacement from his country.

According to Ambassador A. Mohamed, the hundreds of Oromos, who left Somaliland, did so out of their own accord, “perhaps feeling threatened personally by the situation.”

“Although, most of them were in Somaliland illegally or have refugee status, there was absolutely nothing forcing them out of the country,” he said in an exclusive interview with The Reporter. We still have a number of Oromo communities living in different regions of Somaliland, the minister said, and that they are living peacefully and with no problem.       

Our security was alert in sense that as soon as news of the conflict started to drip in from the Ethiopian side of the border it gave statements on the national television assuring Ethiopians (Oromos) living in the Somaliland that their security will be guaranteed.

He further said that the Somali and Oromo people are brotherly people with similar culture and living in close proximity to one-another.

Nevertheless, according to official reports by the Government of Ethiopia at the time, there were as much as 3,000 Oromos who were displaced from Somaliland. Negeri Lencho (PhD), head of Government Communication Affairs Office, told the media at time that close to 3,000 ethnic-Oromo Ethiopians have been displaced from Somaliland.

As far as the minister is concerned, there is only one incident worth mentioning in this ordeal. “There was only one incident around Ethiopia- Somaliland boarder where one officer shot dead an ethnic Oromo in midst of a commotion created among a group of people trying to cross the border back to Ethiopia,” he told The Reporter. Furthermore, he disclosed that the officer involved in that incident is still in prison awaiting the outcome of a court proceeding for the crime he committed.