Somalia has witnessed over two decades of conflict, violence, human rights violations and natural disasters, all of which have triggered repeated waves of displacement. There are still an estimated 1.1 million Somalis – approximately a tenth of the population – who are internally displaced. Most internally displaced persons (IDPs) continue to live in dire conditions in protracted displacement. For many, prospects for durable solutions remain remote.
Since its establishment in 2012, the Federal Government of Somalia has sought to promote peace, good governance and better relations with parts of the country which have been seeking degrees of autonomy. However, political and social challenges to the consolidation of the federal structure remain. In 2014, the Somali National Armed Forces and African Union Mission in Somalia launched a military offensive in order to reduce the control of the Islamic militia Al-Shabaab over parts of southern and central Somalia. This led to the new displacement of over 80,000 people. Although more territory is under the control of the central government than at any time since the early 1990s, Al-Shabaab remains a major threat to peace and security.
IDPs continue to face risks to their lives, safety, security and dignity. They are disproportionately at risk of gross abuses of human rights, especially women and unaccompanied children. Sexual and gender-based violence is widespread, even in areas of Somalia enjoying relative security. Many IDPs from minority clans suffer pervasive discrimination since they often lack vital clan protection and connections.
In 2014, the combined impact of conflict, insufficient funding, below average rainfall and food price increases pushed Somalia to a grave food security situation. IDPs remain particularly affected by food insecurity, with many above the emergency threshold for malnutrition. In 2014, forced evictions in Mogadishu exacerbated the humanitarian and protection situation for thousands of displaced Somalis.
In October 2014, the federal government took an important step towards protecting and assisting IDPs by adopting a national policy on internal displacement. There have been similar policy initiatives in Puntland and Somaliland. Despite such developments, implementing these policy frameworks will remain particularly challenging due to weak state capacity and scarcity of resources.
IDPs must be at the heart of stabilisation and peace consolidation efforts in Somalia. If IDPs are to achieve sustainable durable solutions, humanitarian, development, peace-building and human rights actors – from the government, diaspora, civil society, the private sector and the international community – must work in concert.