This document describes the security situation from 1 January 2018 to 30 April 2019 in the northern regions of Somalia, i.e. Somaliland, Puntland and the disputed Sool and Sanaag regions. It updates the COI Focus Somalië. De actuele veiligheidssituatie in Somaliland en Puntland of 24 April 2018. Cedoca concluded its research on 30 April 2019.
According to several sources, the self-proclaimed republic of Somaliland and the federal state of Puntland are relatively stable and peaceful. Both Somaliland and Puntland do not completely control their respective territories. In the disputed areas, i.e. the Sool and Sanaag regions and the Buuhoodle district, this may lead to border conflicts between security services of Somaliland and Puntland.
There are no official statistics on security incidents in Somaliland, Puntland and the disputed regions. Cedoca uses figures compiled by the ACLED data base. According to various sources, there are no reliable statistics on civilian casualties in Somalia.
During the reporting period, the security situation in Puntland, Somaliland and the disputed regions was mainly influenced by the violence between the armed forces of Somaliland and Puntland in the disputed regions, especially in and around the city of Tukaraq (Las Anod district, Sool region). The activities of the AS and ISS terrorist groups in Puntland also have an impact on the stability of this federal state. In the north of Somalia, the security services, various clan militias and unidentified armed groups also commit violence, which may cause civilian casualties, deliberately or not, and which causes civilians to flee. There were three main types of violence in Somaliland, Puntland and the disputed regions during the reporting period: ground offensives, attacks with explosives and murders by shooting. Attacks with explosives are mainly claimed by AS. Gunfights and targeted murders (by shooting) can be attributed to clan militias, security services, unidentified armed groups, ISS or AS.
During the reporting period, no terrorist attacks by AS or ISS were reported in Somaliland. Due to its relative stability, it is less vulnerable to attacks from these jihadist groups. However, various sources assume that AS is present in Somaliland but with limited capabilities. ISS mainly uses this region as a transit zone and an assembly point for its recruits. During the reporting period, ACLED mainly registered incidents of clan violence and violence by militias and unidentified groups, which sometimes caused civilian casualties. ACLED registered most incidents in the first half of 2018 (11), whereas the violence stagnated in the second half of 2018 (10). In the first four months of 2019, ACLED counted ten incidents in Somaliland. For the entire reporting period, most mortal victims as a result of violence fall under the heading of violence against civilians (4).
During the reporting period, the activities of AS and ISS (and the fight between both terrorist groups), clan violence and violence from unidentified armed groups were the main threats to the security situation in Puntland. Both PDF and Darawish units are generally involved in government operations. In the reporting period, US AFRICOM and the PSF carried out air raids on AS and ISS targets. ACLED registered the highest number of incidents in the first half of 2018. In the second half of 2018, a decrease was observed (89). The downward trend continued in the first four months of 2019 (54). The number of victims evolved accordingly: from 254 dead in the first half of 2018 to 99 in the second half of 2018 and 53 in the first four months of 2019. Over the entire reporting period, in Puntland, most mortal victims fell under the heading of battles (200), followed by explosions/remote violence (108) and violence against civilians (98).
There are indications that the presence of AS has increased in the Galgala mountains. During the reporting period, AS did not carry out large-scale attacks causing a high number of casualties in Puntland.
As a result of the American air raids targeting it since November 2017, ISS reduced its activities in Puntland. During the reporting period, ISS resorted to violence to extort ‘taxes’ form local businessmen. According to a study, ISS is unable to carry out sophisticated attacks.
In December 2018, AS declared war on ISS because ISS also collected taxes in big cities such as Bosaso and Mogadishu, extended its field of activity to Mogadishu in 2018 and had links with terrorist activities in the West. At the start of 2019, incidents attributed to rivalry between the two jihadist groups were reported in Puntland. Both groups also compete for the support of the local population, which represents a potential danger to civilians.
Regarding the disputed regions, tensions between Somaliland and Puntland in the Sool region lead to armed incidents. The main combating parties in this conflict are the SLA and the PDF. In early 2018, Somaliland conquered the city of Tukaraq in Puntland. In spite of local and international conciliation attempts, violence flared up regularly in 2018. The fighting decreased between July 2018 and the end of 2018. Cedoca did not find any mention of such border incidents during the first four months of 2019 in the consulted sources. In the reporting period, there were also fights between clans and subclans, mainly for access to land and water. The number of incidents registered by ACLED in the first half of 2018 (58) more or less equals the number of incidents in de second half of 2018 (59). Their number decreased in the first four months of 2019 (16). Regarding the number of mortal victims, ACLED counted 175 victims in the first half of 2018, 90 in the second half of 2018 and 8 in the first four months of 2019. For the entire reporting period, the highest number of mortal victims was caused by incidents that are considered as battles (252). Twenty-six dead were counted in the ACLED category of violence against civilians, and 3 in the category of explosions/remote violence.
The lack of security, the climate (drought, hurricane Sagar, floods) and poor job opportunities are the underlying causes for the (temporary) migration of the local population. The drought was the main reason for displacement in the entire region during the reporting period. The violence in the Sool region, near the city of Tukaraq, caused the local population to flee. In July of 2018, OCHA reported that the armed conflict in Tukaraq chased 12,800 people from their homes. According to the Minister of the Interior of Puntland, 80 % of the population of Tukaraq is displaced.
In the past few years, the appeal of the tahriib has increased in Puntland and Somaliland. However, exact figures on the number of young people going to Europe are not available.
In April 2019, OCHA reported that the humanitarian situation in Somalia was deteriorating due to insufficient rain in the rainy season. The drought leads to further displacement and threatens food security in the north-east of Somalia. The north of the Awdal and Wooqooyi Galbeed districts in Somaliland are the worst hit by severe food shortages. On the other hand, refugees from Yemen are still arriving in northern Somalia.
Regarding mobility in the region, connecting roads in Somaliland and Puntland are accessible and suitable for motor vehicles, except for the road from Garowe (Puntland) to Burao (Somaliland), which is only partially accessible.
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.