HC Deb 03 June 1992 vol 208 cc823-4
19. Mr. Bowis

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what is his policy on recognition of the countries that were formerly (a) French Somaliland, (b) Italian Somaliland and (c) British Somaliland.

Mr. Lennox-Boyd

We recognise the Republic of Djibouti, formerly the French territory, and the Somali Democratic Republic, which was created by the union of the former British protectorate and the Italian-administered territory.

Mr. Bowis

Only two of the five Somali nations represented by the five stars on the Somali flag are within the republic known as Somalia. As my hon. Friend rightly pointed out, French Somaliland is now independent as Djibouti, and British Somaliland is part of Somalia. Will my hon. Friend bear in mind that the people of Somaliland hope that they, too, will return to independent status some day? Will he keep an open mind on that, as the people there and their Government move towards the conditions in which such recognition might one day become possible?

Mr. Lennox-Boyd

I have great sympathy with my hon. Friend's concern for the people of the north, with whom we have many historic ties. Their plight is often overlooked. The Somali national movement is, however, divided and is not in control of northern Somalia—so the question that my hon. Friend poses does not arise at the moment.

Mr. Michael

Does the Minister accept that the people of northern Somalia, that is the Somaliland Republic, who have strong links with this country through family ties and the service that they rendered in successive world wars, are caught in a trap? Unless they can achieve stability and good administration, they cannot win recognition from Britain or the international community, but without recognition and help they are unlikely to be able to create the administration, peace, and stability to which I am sure the Minister also aspires. Will he seek a creative way of trying to help the people in the north?

Mr. Lennox-Boyd

I am sure that my noble Friend the Minister for Overseas Development would look kindly on initiatives to help the hard-pressed people in the north, along the lines that the hon. Gentleman suggests, were it possible to deliver aid to that area. The prime obstacle in the way of helping in any part of Somalia is the security situation—though we have managed to provide some help to the north in recent times.