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UN Security Council Urges Dialogue to Resolve Ethiopia-Somalia Dispute Over Somaliland

The United Nations Security Council has called on Ethiopia and Somalia to engage in dialogue to resolve the ongoing dispute over Somaliland, which declared independence from Somalia in 1991 but is not internationally recognized.

The appeal came on Wednesday following closed consultations among Security Council members under the “Peace and Security in Africa” agenda item.

“We hope that through dialogue, it will be possible to solve the current situation,” UN Secretary-General António Guterres stated.

The United States, China, the European Union, African Union, and Arab League have urged Ethiopia to respect Somali sovereignty over Somaliland, which remains a contentious issue in the region.

Ethiopia and Somalia have a history of strained relations and territorial conflicts, including two wars in the late 20th century. Tensions escalated recently following an agreement signed on January 1, 2024, between Ethiopia and Somaliland. The agreement grants Ethiopia a 20-kilometer naval base lease for 50 years in exchange for diplomatic recognition of Somaliland.

Landlocked Ethiopia has been seeking access to the Red Sea to enhance its trade capabilities. However, Somalia contends that the memorandum of understanding (MOU) is an “unlawful transgression” of its sovereignty and territorial integrity, viewing Somaliland as an integral part of its territory.

In a letter of complaint to the UN Security Council dated January 23, Somalia argued that the agreement undermines its territorial integrity.

In response, Ethiopia expressed willingness to engage in dialogue under the African Union’s auspices but urged the UN Security Council to refrain from discussing the matter, as it is already being considered by the African Union’s Peace and Security Council.

Ethiopia’s letter, sent on January 26, emphasized that the MOU is intended to secure a sea outlet for commercial purposes under mutually acceptable terms and in line with international norms.

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