In February, the operational environment in Somalia remained challenging in the majority of the country. The context was largely shaped by the delayed elections and volatile security situation.
Somalia is also facing a new wave of COVID-19. The increased number of COVID-19 cases resulted in the authorities putting new measures in place to prevent the spread of the virus.
Despite the challenging operational environment, UNHCR continued to provide protection, assistance and solutions to persons of concern across the country.
The term of President Mohamed Abdullahi Farmajo ended on 8 February, with no clear indication on when the elections for a new leader would be organized. Electoral impasse continued, mainly due to disagreements between the Federal Government of Somalia and some of the Federal Member States on the organization of the elections. The UN representation in Somalia, together with the wider international community, continued to meet the various stakeholders, calling for a rapid resolution to the electoral deadlock.
The upcoming electoral period also led to increasing insecurity. Al-Shabaab carried out several attacks, mostly targeting politicians and government officials but also resulting in civilian casualties. Intensified insecurity led to the UN announcing a White City Alert to the entire country, with the expectation of Somaliland, which meant that UNHCR staff had to limit all movements in large parts of the country. This coupled with restricted access to internet challenged the work of UNHCR.
The operational environment was further complexified by COVID-19. Towards the end of February, the number of COVID-19 increased, culminating in the Ministry of Health reporting the highest number of confirmed cases in a day since the beginning of the pandemic in March 2020. Public and media attention around the issue increased as well, partly due to the death of several high-level figures due to the virus. The government announced several new measures in an attempt to control the spread of the virus, including a ban on all public gatherings and closure of schools and universities.