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Somalia – update June 2022

From Atrocities Watch Monitor N° 5, June 2022
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In May, Somalia saw an increase in violence, particularly in the run up to the 15 May presidential election. According to ACLED, there was about a 25% increase in the number of incidents, compared with the monthly average over the previous year. However, the level of casualties was actually slightly lower than it had been in previous months.[1] Violence was concentrated in the Lower Shabelle region, which surrounds the capital of Mogadishu, which saw a 73% percent increase in incidents over the course of the month as compared to the prior year and a 120% increase when compared to the prior month.[2],.[3]

On 3 May al-Shabaab attacked an African Union Transition Mission in Somalia (ATIMS) base in Al Baraf in Middle Shabelle. Burundian authorities claimed that 30 soldiers were killed in the attack, whereas Al Shabaab claimed to have killed 173 soldiers.[4] Al Shabaab also continued attacks on ATIMS and government forces in the second and third weeks of the month.[5] Six mortar rounds, suspected to have been launched by Al Shabaab, landed near the election venue but did not cause casualties.[6]

Following a 16 month delay, Hassan Sheikh Mohamud was elected and sworn in as president (he had served as president prior to Farmaajo) in mid-May. The president has long-standing ties with the rulers of Ethiopia’s Tigray region,[7] but also with Prime Minister Abiy.[8]

The new president will face serious challenges. The electoral discord empowered a resurgent Al Shabaab and a record drought is affecting over six million Somalis and has displaced over 700,000, six districts are facing famine like conditions.[9] Situations of economic crisis can increase the likelihood of atrocity crimes.

Context:

 After suffering through a near constant state of crisis since the fall of former dictator Siad Barre in 1991 and widespread violence under Al-Shabaab militants, the country managed to put in place a Federal Government through limited, indirect elections in 2012. In 2016, legislation passed allowing political parties for the first time since 1969. There was a peaceful transition of power in 2017 to the current president, Mohamed Abdullahi Mohamed, better known as Farmaajo, who was again elected indirectly. At the same time, the country made progress in reforming the security forces, judiciary and other key state institutions. This progress was undermined by the electoral crisis.

 International response:

The United States authorised the re-deployment of troops to the country, with the purpose to “enable a more effective fight against al-Shabaab by local forces.”[10]

The African Union, the Somali and Burundian governments as well as the United States Embassy in Mogadishu strongly condemned the al-Shabab attack on ATIMS that took place at the start of May.[11] The UN Security Council also condemned the attacks and expressed its full support for ATIMS and Somali government efforts to counter Al Shabaab.[12]

On 26 May, the UN Security Council met on Somalia and issued resolution 2632 which congratulated Mohamud on his election and also renewed the mandate of the UN assistance mission in Somalia (UNSOM) for another year.[13]

 

[1] ACLED Dashboard, https://acleddata.com/dashboard/#/dashboard

[2] ACLED, Regional overview Africa: 14-20 May 2022, 26 May 2022, https://acleddata.com/2022/05/26/regional-overview-africa-14-20-may-2022/

[3] ACLED, Regional overview Africa: 21-27 May, 1 June 2022, https://acleddata.com/2022/06/01/regional-overview-africa-21-27-may-2022/

[4] All Africa, “Somalia: At Least 30 Burundian AU Soldiers Killed in Al-Shabab Attack, Official Says,” 4 May 2022, https://allafrica.com/stories/202205060029.html

[5] ACLED, Regional Overview: Africa,” 14-20 May 2022, https://acleddata.com/2022/05/26/regional-overview-africa-14-20-may-2022/

[6] Omar Mahmoud, “A Welcome Chance for a Reset in Somalia,” 31 May 2022, https://www.crisisgroup.org/africa/horn-africa/somalia/welcome-chance-reset-somalia

[7] Bloomberg, “Power Play Shifts in Horn of Africa as Somalia Elects New Leader,” 17 May 2022, https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2022-05-17/power-play-shifts-in-horn-of-africa-as-somalia-elects-new-leader

[8] Omar Mahmood, “A Welcome Chance for a Reset in Somalia,” 31 May 2022, https://www.crisisgroup.org/africa/horn-africa/somalia/welcome-chance-reset-somalia

[9] VOA, “Drought Affects Almost Half of Somalia as Famine Looms,” 31 May 2022, https://www.voanews.com/a/drought-affects-almost-half-of-somalia-as-famine-looms-/6596623.html

[10] Al Jazeera, “Biden approves deployment of hundreds of US troops to Somalia,” 16 May 2022, https://www.aljazeera.com/news/2022/5/16/biden-approves-deployment-of-hundreds-of-us-troops-to-somalia

[11]  All Africa, “Somalia: At Least 30 Burundian AU Soldiers Killed in Al-Shabab Attack, Official Says,” 4 May 2022, https://allafrica.com/stories/202205060029.html

[12] UNSC, Security Council Press Statement on Attack against African Union Transition Mission in Somalia, 6 May 2022, https://www.un.org/press/en/2022/sc14883.doc.htm

[13] UNSC Resolution 2632, 26 May 2022, https://documents-dds-ny.un.org/doc/UNDOC/GEN/N22/362/73/PDF/N2236273.pdf?OpenElement

 

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