Somalia - South Central
Key mixed migration characteristics
South Central Somalia ranks high as a country of origin for mixed migrants in the Horn of Africa. According to widely quoted UNDP 2005/6 figures, the population of South Central Somalia is estimated to be 4.9 million. However the population’s figures are an extrapolation and are highly contentious.
The prevalence of civil conflict in Mogadishu and Southern Somalia has contributed to insecurity in the region causing mass displacement resulting in high levels of IDPs and migrant movement. In late 2011 the situation was further compounded by the Kenya's military operation in South Central Somalia.
In 2011 a prolonged drought that caused famine conditions in many parts of the south in addition to the inability of international aid to access certain areas have acted as ‘push’ factors contributing to the rise in the Somali exodus from South Central into neighbouring Kenya, Ethiopia, Somaliland, Puntland, Djibouti and further a-field north towards Yemen or south towards Southern Africa.
Most recent statistics
The towns of Mogadishu, Beledweyne, and Galkayo in South Somalia act as transit towns and points of departure for migrants flowing up north to Puntland, Somaliland and Djibouti.
UNHCR analysis show that the migration trends in 2012 increased compared tp 2011. Insecurity brought about by the Kenyan operation in South Somalia against the Al-Shabaa militants.
The political insecurity in Yemen during the year 2012 appeared not to act as a deterrent to the irregular migrant flow but may have served to encourage migration as the authorities in Yemen were overwhelmed by internal strife which resulted in a reduced capacity for law and order implementation. The number of Somalis fleeing to Yemen itself increased from some 18,000 in 2010 to 27,000 in 2011. In the year 2012 a total of 23,532 Somalis made the crossing to Yemen majority of which originated from South Central Somalia.
Refugees and Asylum-seekers in South Central Somalia
Puntland aside - some thousands of refugees, IDPs, and asylum seekers reside in two dozen settlements in Bossaso - South Central does not host a refugee population. There are no asylum seekers or refugees in South Central. However, population displacement is significant within the area with UNHCR recording the level of internally displaced people at 1,037,554 in April 2013. In some cases IDPs of today join the flow of mixed migration of tomorrow. The figure of IDPs in South Central represents approximately 25 % of the total population.
Main drivers and motivation for migration
According to the Yemen Mixed Migration Task Force lack of opportunity, insecurity and drought/famine respectively rank as the main drivers of migration from South Central Somalia. As documented by many sources, for two decades the area has not had a central effective government and is riven with power conflicts between rival militias, clans, warlords and different armed forces.
UNDP analyses of South Central Somalia show that it has an unrivaled low Multidimensional Poverty Index (score value = 0.514) and is ranked at 187 out of 187 countries. Remittances (2008 est.) to the approximate value of $2 billion may help sustain some families and communities in their place of origin but for many the conditions are dire and displacement and/or migration is the only viable response.
As a country of mixed migration origin
South Central Somalia is a major country of origin for mixed migrants. Approximately 30-35% of those arriving in Yemen during 2011 were Somali with the majority coming from South Central. For example, 95% of the registered Somali migrants arriving in Yemen during the month of November 2011 were from South Somalia.
Between 2008 – 2010 (inclusive) the percentage of Somalis arriving in Yemen was higher, but as the number of Ethiopians has increased the proportion of Somalis has fallen, even if in terms of absolute numbers they still come in consistently high numbers.
A large number of Somalis (mainly from South Central) have also sought refuge in Kenya with over half a million residing in refugee camps and Nairobi (est 491,725 April 2013). An additional unknown number leave South Central and travel through Kenya with the intention of reaching South Africa.
Characteristics of migration (means and modes)
Smugglers often presenting themselves as travel agents or brokers facilitate movement from Mogadishu and organize their transportation north through the town of Galkayo to Bossaso in Puntland. Somalis also travel by road through Hiiraan and Puntland where they often have to pay bribes, particularly in Garowe and Las Anood checkpoints to proceed on their journey.
There is evidence that Somali migrants are increasingly using scheduled flights from Mogadishu-Berbera/Hargeisa. To avoid road blocks, possible detention and other trouble.
Those who cannot afford to pay smugglers, walk the many miles through the stony plains that typify the landscape north of Galkayo heading to Bossaso. Those travelling into Kenya also use brokers and human smugglers (private vehicles) which may deposit them near the Somali/Kenyan border or in the interior of Kenya near the Dadaab camp complex. Others seeking refuge in Kenya may only have the option of walking.
Risks and vulnerabilities of mixed migration in South Somalia
Somali migrants face the same risks and vulnerabilities as other migrants that use clandestine means of movement, using a mixture of 'foot, vehicle and boat' and who travel through hot, dry and often inhospitable terrain. Their main dangers often come from the climate and geography as much as from their fellow Somalis (officials, militias, local communities) or others involved in their movement as smugglers; specifically, travelling north to Bossaso in Puntland the migrants are vulnerable to smugglers and exploitative middle men who may extort/rob them of money and valuables in their possession.
The TFG Police/Al-Shabaab check points also pose a menace to migrants where they are forced to pay bribes in order to be allowed safe passage.
National immigration policies
According to the 2008 U.S. State of Department Trafficking in Persons report there are no laws in South Somalia explicitly prohibiting forced labor, involuntary servitude, and slavery. Trafficking for sexual exploitation may be prohibited under the most widespread interpretations of Shari'a and customary law, but there is neither a unified police force in the territory to enforce these laws, nor any authoritative legal system through which traffickers can be prosecuted.
In South Central Somalia, the TFG's Ministry of National Security and Internal Affairs is, in theory, responsible for anti-trafficking efforts, but lacks operational capacity and awareness of human trafficking. Somalia has not ratified the 2000 UN Trafficking in Persons Protocol.
Intenational legisltion to which South Central Somalia is a State Party to
South Central Somalia is what remains of the Republic of Somalia and is bound by the international conventions and treaties that were agreed to pre-1991 and otherwise.
- 1951 Convention Relating to the Status of Refugees & its 1967 Protocol
- OAU 1969 Convention Governing Specific Aspects of Refugee Problems in Africa (Republic of Somalia was a signatory but did not ratify)
- International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights
- International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights
- United Nations Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment
- International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination
- Convention on the Rights of Children (Republic of Somalia was a signatory but did not ratify)
- United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea
Other sites offering comprehensive country profile information other than mixed migration
- The US Central Intelligence Agency Fact File
- Human Rights Watch
- USAID Somalia
- Internal Displacement Monitoring Centre