In May 2007, FEWS NET conducted a rapid assessment to determine the impact of the recent conflict (March-May 2007) on the food security and livelihoods of the most vulnerable households within Mogadishu City and how they have been coping with insecurity, rising food prices and declining income opportunities. The assessment surveyed 184 internally displaced person (IDPs) households. Of these, 60 were located along the Mogadishu-Afgoye road and the remaining were located in Wadajir, Dharkeyley, Waaberi, Towfiq, and Heliwaa districts of Mogadishu. In addition, key informants from trader groups, civil society groups, and non-governmental organizations (NGOs) were interviewed. The following is a summary of the main findings from the assessment.
1. Households that remained in Mogadishu during the conflict or became displaced within the city were primarily poor; these households are also the least able to cope with changes in income and food prices
2. During the conflict, prices for imported food commodities peaked (March/April) and the unskilled daily labor wage rate plummeted, disrupting food access, especially for the poor
3. Since the conflict has subsided, household food access is still restricted; although prices have declined, they are still high, while wages remain depressed, and labor opportunities are scarce
In December 2006, the Somali Transitional Federal Government (TFG), with support from Ethiopian armed forces, ousted the Union of Islamic Courts forces from south-central Somalia. During the transition of power, insecurity increased, particularly in the capital, Mogadishu. Between late March and April 2007, two periods of intense fighting broke out in Mogadishu between insurgents and the TFG and its Ethiopian supporters. By May 2007, according to UN agencies, more than 365,000 people had fled Mogadishu. Most of the displaced people were from middle income and better-off households and fled to the central, northwestern, and northeastern areas and Shabelle Valley, Bay Region, and parts of Juba Valley. In addition to migration out of Mogadishu, there has been significant displacement within Mogadishu and its environs, mainly from insecure areas to relatively safer areas, with some concentration in make-shift camps along the Mogadishu-Afogye road. The urban poor and old IDPs lacked the resources to leave and formed the bulk of those displaced within the city and its environs. The latest conflict has also increased the number of people seeking to leave Somalia. Prior to March 2007, Mogadishu was already home to more than 250,000 IDPs who have been relying on international and local aid agencies for support and living on government or public property.
As the fighting abated in mid-May, those who had left Mogadishu during the conflict began to return home. The UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) estimates that about 90,000 people had returned by early June, although some place the estimate between 100,000 and 200,000. The majority are returning from areas around Mogadishu like Lower and Middle Shabelle regions. There have also been reports of some back-and-forth movement of people, though this is difficult to quantify. One factor complicating returns is that the TFG has decreed that people are not allowed to return to government-owned property, making it difficult for those who had previously lived on government property to return to those locations.