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Somaliland community background

British Somalilanders are originally from Somaliland which is situated in the East of Africa specifically in the Horn. The country has borders with Djibouti, Ethiopia, Somalia and Yemen at the sea side. It has been a British protectorate for 76 years (1884-1960). Somaliland gained full independence from the United Kingdom on the 26th of June 1960. Four days later, 1st of July 1960, Somaliland went into a union with Somalia, a former Italian colony, in the hope of realising the pan-Somali concept or “greater Somali republic” and uniting all the five Somali territories (Somaliland, Somalia, Djibouti, Somali inhabited region of Ethiopia and Somali inhabited region of Kenya). The union between Somaliland and Somalia has given birth to the Somali Republic. The dream of making Somali a nationality and bringing all five Somali territories together has not been fulfilled and therefore the union between Somaliland and Somalia has lost its foundation. After 31 years of an unhappy marriage between the two countries Somaliland proclaimed itself independent and merged again in the Horn of Africa map on the 18th May 1991.

The relationship between Britain and the Somalilanders dates from the colonial times. Lots of Somalilanders, mainly men, have served Britain as armed forces and fought in the first and second world war by their side. Concerning the migration of the Somalilanders into Britain, the Somalilanders were the first Somali speaking community who came to the UK in the early of the nineteenth century, and were mainly men who worked as crew on the ships, known as sea men. They settled mainly in coastal towns, such as Cardiff and Liverpool. Some of the unmarried men got married to British women and those who were already married used to go back to Somaliland every year to see their families. That situation has changed since the late eighties when the unrest has started in Somaliland due to the atrocities committed by the regime of Mohamed Siyad Barre, the ex-president of the Somali republic, at that time. The main cities have been bombarded by military planes and heavy artillery and thousands of people were found dead. Even now, when it rains heavily, mass graves are discovered.

During that period, thousands of Somalilanders came to Britain as refugees and some of them through family reunion. That large group of refugees arrived in Britain late 1980’s and early 1990’s. They settled mainly in the big cities such as Bristol, Cardiff, Greater London, Liverpool and Sheffield. Another wave of Somalilanders and other Somalis came into Britain in early 2000 from other European countries such as Scandinavia and Holland. Approximately one hundred thousand Somalilanders live in the UK now. The migration of Somalilanders into Britain is still occurring through the family reunion law. Thousands of British-Euro Somalilanders go to Somaliland every year during the summer holydays. The young males often fall in love with the local girls and get married and that keeps Somalilanders coming to Britain. Hundreds of young females and males come into Britain every year. West London (Ealing, Hillingdon and Hounslow) is one of the places that still attract Somalilanders to come and settle. Approximately 3000 Somalilanders live in these three boroughs and every year the number is increasing.