(by Tom Edwards - Worcester News)
A WORCESTER-BASED UKIP politician has spoken of his visit to Somaliland speaking to desperate people.
James Carver, an MEP representing the West Midlands, visited the autonomous region of Somaliland earlier this month to help reignite its bid for "re-recognition".
Mr Carver, UKIP's Commonwealth spokesman, has used his position in the European Parliament to try and lobby for the region to be recognised as a "state in its own right" by the international community.
During his stay he met with Somaliland's foreign minister, went to a Commonwealth war grave cemetery, addressed a standing committee of its parliament and spoke in a cultural centre.
(MEP: UKIP's James Carver laying a wreath at the Hargeisa Commonwealth War Graves Cemetery in Somaliland.)
He also had armed guards with him, which was paid for privately with no cost to the taxpayer.
Mr Carver is a long-standing critic of the international community's attitude to Somaliland, calling it "extraordinary" that Britain has not attempted to get it included as part of the Commonwealth despite allowing countries with no historic British links in, like Mozambique.
The Republic of Somaliland, as it is officially known, has a population of 3.5 million people and its own currency, but is suffering from desperate poverty.
Mr Carver said: "It was a really good, interesting trip and what struck me was the young people - they are so engaging.
"This is a big issue of mine, I've done a lot of work on it in the European Parliament.
"They want to be an independent state, and we can help them with that.
"They don't have an internationally recognised banking system and it's putting a stop on investment, that's how we end up with so many young people risking their lives trying to get across the Mediterranean to Europe.
"Lots of kids over there end up in countries like Germany and France and have a bad life, getting into crime.
"They are really bright kids, all they want is a chance in life."