A lot of  Somali refugees have fled to Ethiopia after an escalation in fighting in the town of Las Anod, in the Sool region of Somaliland. Tensions between local people and the governing Somaliland authorities had been building for weeks, resulting in the displacement of 80,000 internally displaced people (IDPs) and the death of 82 people. Women and children comprise 89% of the IDPs, and have arrived with very little, often having to sell their belongings to pay for transportation. Many are without proper shelter, having to sleep in the open, or in schools and other public buildings. The violence is believed to have been sparked by the death of a local man, Abdifatah Abdullahi Abdi, in late December leading to Somaliland withdrawing its forces from Las Anod in January.

Dhulbahante elders declared that the Sool region was no longer part of Somaliland and would form a separate state within Somalia’s federal system. The UN said the conflict had left the displaced Somalis with limited sources of water and sanitation, and 80% were having to defecate in the open.

The dry season is from November to March, which is already a difficult time – not enough food, not enough water for the ordinary countryside populations. Now, with thousands of IDPs, the situation is becoming dire. The conflict reflects a deeper problem of where Somaliland’s borders lay and whether all those living within the territory it claimed are willing to be part of the breakaway state.

The Minister of Defence of the Republic of Somaliland, Abdiqani Mohamoud Aateye, expressed optimism in a Twitter post regarding the Speaker of the House of Representatives of Somaliland, Abdirizak Khalif, joining the Independent Peace Mission Delegations of Traditional Elders in the region for peacemaking. The objective is to engage in Conflict Resolution negotiations to bring an end to the conflict.

The Speaker of the Somaliland Parliament, Abdirisak Khalif, has been in Lasanod for several weeks now, playing a vital role in the resolution of this conflict. He had said that he went to the city to allow the people of the Sool region to discuss their interests peacefully and to end the conflict through negotiation.

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