This COI Focus describes the security situation in the Somalian capital Mogadishu, particularly during the period 1 July 2018 - 31 December 2018. This document is an update of the COI Focus of 25 September 2018. The research for this COI Focus was completed on 31 January 2019.
According to the December 2018 report of the United Nations Secretary General, the security situation in Somalia remains unstable and AS is still the greatest security threat in the country. This terrorist group maintains its operational strength and capacity, despite the continuation and intensification of air raids and ground operations throughout the country. ISS elements have expanded their activities in and near Mogadishu, although they limit their operations to targeted killings.
During the reporting period, the capital was regularly hit by terrorist attacks (mainly improvised explosive devices), in particular on hotels and establishments that are popular with government officials, by targeted attacks on persons linked to the government or to international organizations and by mortar attacks. During the reporting period, AS was the main actor responsible for the violence in the capital, which sometimes causes civilian casualties. However, AS is not the only terrorist group active in Mogadishu and some violent incidents were claimed by ISS. During the reporting period, ISS mainly resorted to targeted killings by firearms of persons working for the federal government, including members of the NISA intelligence service. As ISS also collects taxes from business people, AS is focussed on eliminating the influence and presence of ISS in the capital. ISS therefore reduced its attacks on targets that are linked to the government and its allies, according to an analysis of the Hiraal Institute. AS has reportedly managed to reduce very significantly the presence of ISS in the capital.
Besides those claimed by or attributed to AS and ISS, acts of violence were also carried out by other actors in Mogadishu during the reporting period. ACLED mentions incidents caused by politically motivated clan conflicts, ordinary criminality and conflicts about landownership. Those incidents sometimes resulted in civilian casualties. Civilians are sometimes caught in crossfire from AMISOM and the Somalian army, as well as from clan militias and unidentified armed militias.
Official figures on incidents and (civilian) casualties in Mogadishu are not available. During the reporting period of this COI Focus (from 1 July until 31 December 2018), ACLED counted 346 incidents in Mogadishu causing approximately 500 dead. 149 incidents resulting in 260 dead fall into the “battle - no change of territory” category, two incidents resulting in 10 dead into the “battle - non-state actor overtakes territory” category, 76 incidents resulting in 97 dead - where civilians were either targets or bystanders - fall into the “remote violence” category, and 119 incidents resulting in 133 civilian dead fall into the “violence against civilians” category.
Compared to the first half of 2018, the number of violent incidents causing civilian casualties (“violence against civilians” category), as well as the number of civilian casualties caused by these incidents, remained stable in the second half of 2018.
The security situation in Mogadishu varies from district to district. According to several sources, some districts are significantly safer than others. In 2017, the Danish immigration service stated that there is hardly any government presence in some districts. According to ACLED, during the reporting period, most civilian casualties fell in the Hodan district, followed by the Hawl Wadaag district.
Several sources, among which the UN Monitoring Group, mention problems such as mismanagement, corruption, clan rivalry, poor coordination between security services and a lack of civilian control. The security services are deeply infiltrated by AS. Abuses occur during law and order and security operations in Mogadishu, and the security services operate in a climate of impunity. In the reporting period, the security services did not offer sufficient protection to the civilian population against terrorist violence. As a result, civilians turned to armed groups (such as clan militias, private militias and AS) for their protection.
In 2018, Mogadishu officially became the most densely populated city in Africa and the second most densely populated city in the world. In the capital, approximately 600,000 displaced persons live in 480 informal settlements in and near the city. The most vulnerable segments of the population - internally displaced persons, economic refugees, poor people and returnees - live in these settlements. Somalians are leaving the countryside for the capital for several reasons: persistent drought, the search for a means of existence, harsh living conditions in some rural areas and poor security. Most returnees from the diaspora, Kenya, Libya and Yemen settle in the capital, which adds to the pressure on basic services.
IDPs, especially women and girls, run a greater risk of gender-related violence and sexual exploitation as a result of limited security in IDP settlements, poor living conditions and reduced clan protection. Displaced persons in Mogadishu are vulnerable to a second (or third) displacement, often under pressure of violence, caused by the increased value of land and real estate in the capital. Displaced persons in are in a vulnerable situation due to the lack of a formal safety net, poor sanitation and living conditions (lack of drinking water), food insecurity, lack of identity documents, poor quality housing and rental insecurity.
Several sources mention some positive developments in Mogadishu, such as economic recovery and improvement in basic health care and education, albeit on a limited scale.
After the fall of president Siad Barre in 1991, Somalia sank into chaos. Various authorities have taken power since then. Somaliland and Puntland became de facto states independent of Somalia in the 1990's. The general security situation in Somalia is largely determined by a long-term, ongoing, internal armed conflict which has resulted in many Somalis being uprooted or seeking refuge in other countries. In order to assess the need for international protection, the Commissioner General takes into account the fact that there are fundamental differences between the situations in Mogadishu, Central and Southern Somalia on the one hand, and the situation in Somaliland and Puntland on the other.