This COI Focus describes the security situation in the Somalian capital Mogadishu, particularly during the period 1 January to 31 August 2019. This document is an update of the COI Focus of 25 March 2019. The research for this COI Focus was closed on 15 September 2019.
According to the May and August 2019 reports of the UN Secretary General, the security situation in Somalia remains unstable.
During the reporting period, Mogadishu was regularly hit by terrorist attacks carried out mainly with improvised explosive devices, by targeted attacks on people associated with security forces or international organizations, and by mortar attacks. During the reporting period, Al-Shabaab (AS) was the main actor responsible for violence in the capital. Government buildings, state employees and security forces were attacked, as well as popular restaurants and hotels. These attacks sometimes caused civilian casualties. The mayor and governor of Mogadishu was killed in an AS attack in August 2019. Several sources report that AS is intensifying its attacks in the capital following an increase in drone attacks on AS targets in rural areas. Compared to the previous reporting period, violence from the Islamic State in Somalia (ISS) decreased in Mogadishu (ACLED registered only one such incident).
During the reporting period, several sources mention increased violence in Mogadishu in February, March, April and June 2019.
Besides those claimed by or attributed to AS, acts of violence were also carried out by other actors in Mogadishu during the reporting period. ACLED reports 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 between different warring parties in the city.
Official figures on incidents and (civilian) casualties in Mogadishu are not available. During the reporting period, ACLED counted 127 incidents as “violence against civilians”, resulting in 174 dead. Civilians are sometimes targeted deliberately (for instance government employees and businessmen) and are sometimes collateral victims of incidents classed as “explosions/remote violence”.
Several sources 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, according to several sources. During 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 protection.
According to several sources, clan membership offers limited protection against the main security problems in Mogadishu, but no protection against indirect violence (being in the wrong place at the wrong time), attacks by unidentified actors or by AS. Clan membership can be a deterrent against violent crime.
Some districts of Mogadishu are safer than others. According to the sources, there is very little or no government presence in some northern districts. The districts of Heliwaa, Yaaqshiid and Daynille are considered unsafe by the sources.
In and around the city, 497,000 displaced persons are currently living in 480 informal settlements. The most vulnerable segments of the population live in these settlements : internally displaced persons, economic refugees, poor people and returnees. Most returnees from the diaspora, Kenya, Libya and Yemen settle in the capital. During the reporting period, an additional 68,000 IDPs arrived in Mogadishu.
Due to the lack of basic services and decent housing, IDPs in Mogadishu’s informal settlements run a risk of secondary displacement. Returnees are also claiming land belonging to their family, which sometimes causes the eviction of thousands of IDPs. Tensions are increasing in the capital owing to forced evictions and the absence of a structural solution in the matter of landownership. According to several sources, IDPs are especially exposed to sexual violence, in particular women and children.
Several sources mention some positive developments in Mogadishu, such as economic recovery and improvement in basic health care and education. Access to health care and education is still difficult in the capital, especially for IDPs. During the reporting period, parts of the capital were sometimes closed to vehicular traffic by local authorities due to terrorist threats, thus restricting freedom of movement. Repairs to the road network were started during the reporting period.
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.