Somalia: IDPs extremely vulnerable

News and Press Release
Originally published
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IDMC/Ingrid Christine Sandnæs (23.12.2009)

Political and security crises, access limits and donor cuts increase the vulnerability of IDPs in Somalia.

Political stalemate, security crisis and the continuing conflict in Somalia between the UN-backed coalition government and armed opposition groups continue to expose internally displaced people (IDPs) to violations of their rights under international humanitarian and human rights law. According to an updated country profile from NRC=B4s Internal Displacement Monitoring Centre (IDMC), an estimated one and a half million people were internally displaced in south and central Somalia as of November 2009. In the relatively peaceful Somaliland, land tension between sub-clans in the Gebille area also led to displacement in 2009.

The security situation has deteriorated since May 2009 due to intensified clashes between government forces and insurgents, causing civilian causalities, injuries and population displacement. Humanitarian and human rights organisations continue to report displacements, child recruitment, attacks, sexual violence, and efforts to protect IDPs and provide humanitarian assistance have been ineffective.

Humanitarian agency staff and property continue to be directly targeted. In July 2009, Al-Shabaab demanded that three UN agencies stop operating in areas under its control; in November the group ordered the World Food Programme to stop importing food and start buying from Somali farmers, even though such a system would lead to even greater food insecurity. Meanwhile, some donors have significantly reduced humanitarian funding in 2009 for fear that it is being diverted to extremist groups, affecting the capacity of most UN agencies.

The government signed the African Union Convention for the Protection and Assistance of IDPs in Africa, and has committed to ratify the Convention on the Rights of the Child. This is an important development in a country with a massive IDP population and where children face daily risk to their security and general wellbeing. However, the situation in the country will make their implementation impossible in the short term.