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Somalia – updates April 2022

From Atrocities Watch Monitor No. 3
April 2022. Read full newsletter here

The latest in a series of scheduled election dates passed on 31 March without elections. Attacks by Islamist extremists intensified through March, ACLED recorded over 40 acts of remote violence including explosions and at least 116 battles. Violence resulted in almost 500 fatalities which represents an almost 80% increase compared to March 2021.181 Al-Shabaab militants warned politicians would be targeted.182 On 23 March 2021, they attacked the international airport in the capital Mogadishu, two terrorists were killed, and three security officers were injured, the militia group indicated their target was the Halane military compound inside the airport that houses the UN and African Union peacekeeping missions.183 Two bomb blasts in Beledweyne killed 48 people and wounded over 100, among those killed was Amina Mohamed Abdi, a member of parliament and critic of the government.184 On that same day an attack on a restaurant in Beledweyne, ended the life of former lawmaker Hassan Dhuhul.185 On 24 March, another attack on the airport killed six, one Somali and five foreigners involved in AMISOM. The attackers were reportedly killed by security forces. 186 On 27 March, they attacked an Af Urur military base in Puntland, killing at least three soldiers,187 security forces killed 12 militants.188 Al-Shabaab claimed responsibility for all attacks.

The country, as well as the Horn of Africa region, is facing a severe drought. The UN Assistance Mission in Somalia estimates 7.7 million Somalis require humanitarian assistance, of these, 4.3 million are impacted by climatic conditions and more than 270,000 are displaced. 1.4 million children under the age of 5 are likely to suffer from acute malnutrition.189 Women and girls have been most impacted by the drought, a recent report suggests girls are being forced to drop out of school as fees are unattainable due to loss of income, which exposes them to early marriage. 98% of women-run businesses have lost revenue and income due to the high cost of goods, and 51% have been forced to close.190

Experts believe Al-Shabaab may be in one of its strongest positions in the last years, with about 10,000 fighters in Somalia and parts of Kenya.191 Their financial and warfare capacity is growing, the group collected about US$180 million in revenue and spent US$24 million on weapons in 2021.192 In recent months, the group has also modified its tactics from using vehicles and armed raids, in recent months, there was an increase in attacks via suicide bombers on selected targets with precision to inflict the greatest possible damage.193

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 is now being undermined by the electoral crisis.

International Response:

The UN Security Council voted unanimously on 31 March to endorse the African Union Peace and Security Council’s new transitional mission in Somalia (ATMIS). The mission replaces the African Union Mission in Somalia, known as AMISOM, which has been in the country for 15 years. ATMIS is mandated to reduce “the threat posed by al-Shabaab; support the capacity-building of the integrated Somali security and police forces; conduct a phased handover of security responsibilities to Somalia; and support peace and reconciliation efforts in that country.”194 ATMIS is to be distinguished from AMISOM in that it will focus on implementing the Somalia Transition Plmaan developed in 2018 to transfer security responsibilities to the country’s security forces. The plan was recently revised and will be carried out over the next three years over a four-phased timeline.195

The United States expanded the number of Somali individuals subject to visa restrictions to those “believed to be responsible for, or complicit in, undermining the democratic process in Somalia” on 16 March.196

China donated military vehicles and equipment to the Somali government in March “intended to be used by the Somali military in the fight against Al-Shabaab” referencing to a “deep relationship” among both countries.197

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181 ACLED Data

182 DW, “Attacks intensify as Somalia prepares for presidential election,” 29 March 2022, https://www.dw.com/en/attacks-intensify-as-somalia-prepares-for-presidential-election/a-61293528

183 Andalou Agency, “Somali forces kill 2 al-Shabaab terrorists at Mogadishu airport,” 23 March 2022, https://www.aa.com.tr/en/africa/somali-forces-kill-2-al-shabaab-terrorists-at-mogadishu-airport/2543474

184 DW, “Somalia twin attack: Politician killed in bomb blasts, 23 March 2022, https://www.dw.com/en/somalia-twin-attack-politician-killed-in-bomb-blasts/a-61239115

185 AP news, “Somali female lawmaker among scores killed by suicide bomber,” 24 March 2022, https://apnews.com/article/africa-bombings-somalia-suicide-bombings-mogadishu- adc7b1ec67df7785e4ff3440b7aaa6b0

186 “At Least 7 Dead in Somalia After Al-Shabab Attacks,” Voice of America, 23 March 2022, https://allafrica.com/stories/202203240003.html?utm_campaign=daily- headlines&utm_medium=email&utm_source=newsletter&utm_content=aans-view-link

187 Middle East Monitor, “Al-Shabaab terrorists target Somali military base, 3 soldiers killed,” 27 March 2022, https://www.middleeastmonitor.com/20220327-al-shabaab-terrorists-target-somali-military-base-3- soldiers-killed/

188 China.org.cn, “Somalia says foils fresh terror attack, kills 12 Shabab militants,” 28 Marzo 2022, http://www.china.org.cn/world/2022-03/28/content_78133562.htm

189 UN News, “Somalia: Elections must be finalized amid worsening drought, Security Council hears,” 15 February 2022, https://news.un.org/en/story/2022/02/1112022

190 CARE, “Somalia: Early Marriages, FGM and Closure of Businesses Threaten Girls and Women as Drought Worsens,” 25 March 2022, https://www.care.org/news-and-stories/press-releases/somalia-early- marriages-fgm-and-closure-of-businesses-threaten-girls-and-women-as-drought-worsens/

191 Ibid.

192 Institute for Security Studies, “Is the AU mission in Somalia changing in name only?” 29 March 2022, https://issafrica.org/iss-today/is-the-au-mission-in-somalia-changing-in-name-only

193 VOA, “Al-Shabab Surge in Somalia’s Suicide Attacks ‘Change of Tactics,’ Experts Say,” 27 March 2022, https://www.voanews.com/a/al-shabab-surge-in-somalia-s-suicide-attacks-change-of-tactics- experts-say/6503450.html

194 UNSC SC/14847, Unanimously Adopting Resolution 2628 (2022), Security Council Endorses Decision to Reconfigure Existing Entity into African Union Transition Mission in Somalia, 31 March 2022, https://www.un.org/press/en/2022/sc14847.doc.htm

195 Ibid.

196 Middle East Monitor, “US expands number of Somalis subject to visa restrictions,” 17 March 2022, https://www.middleeastmonitor.com/20220317-us-expands-number-of-somalis-subject-to-visa- restrictions/

197 All Africa, “Somalia: China Donates Military Equipment to Somalia to Aid War Against Terrorists,” 19 March 2022, https://allafrica.com/stories/202203190144.html

 

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