The Country of Origin Information Report on South and Central Somalia published by the European Asylum Support Office (EASO) gives an overview of the facts relevant for the examination of asylum applications of Somali nationals in EU countries.
According to the report, the Al-Shabaab insurgent group currently controls most areas in South and Central Somalia outside the bigger cities, while other areas are under the control of the Government with the African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM) forces.
Regarding the human rights situation, EASO underlines reports of arbitrary killings by government security forces, militias, Al‑Shabaab and other actors. People were also killed in armed clashes, as hostages of pirates, and in fights between clans over resources. Often no investigations were undertaken. The study also underlines reports of sexual and gender‑based violence in IDP camps; the beating of journalists at the hands of government forces, the authorities or allied militias; and public executions and hand and leg amputations by Al‑Shabaab.
Abuses by the armed forces or police are mostly not investigated. In practice, the judicial system is not effective, and is virtually inaccessible for vulnerable groups such as women, IDPs and minorities.
The study refers to reports that indicate that the security situation in Somalia remains volatile and has deteriorated since May 2013, and that crime rates in areas under control of the Somali National Armed Forces are rising, including abductions, robberies and gender based violence.
It is reported that Somali returnees can be at risk of targeted attacks by Al‑Shabaab. Somalis returning from Western countries may be suspected of spying for the Somali government and its allies and they usually try to avoid going back to Al‑Shabaab‑controlled areas, even when their clan lives in that area.
The report describes two political security threats that might lead to further violence: the internal crisis in the top leadership of the country and the escalating conflict between regions.
The report also highlights that in 2013, tens of thousands of the 369,000 internally displaced people (IDPs) estimated to be in Mogadishu as of May, were evicted by force from their settlements. This was done not only by private landowners or camp managers, but also by the Mogadishu administration, in attempts to clean up the capital, without finding any safe alternative for the IDPs.
In 2013, Somalia ranked 7th in the top countries of origin of asylum seekers in the EU (plus Norway and Switzerland), with a total number of 20,810 applicants. The report was drafted by Country of Origin Information (COI) specialists from the COI units or asylum offices of Austria, Slovakia, Switzerland and The Netherlands together with EASO.
For further information:
- Human Rights Watch, World Report 2014, Somalia, 21 January 2014
- UN Security Council, Report of the Secretary‑General on Somalia, 31 May 2013
- US Department of State, Country Report on Human Rights Practices for 2013 – Somalia, 27 February 2014
- EASO, Press Release, EASO publishes a Country of Origin Information (COI) report on Somalia, 3 October 2014
This article originally appeared in the ECRE Weekly Bulletin of 10 October 2014. You can subscribe to the Weekly Bulletin here.