SOMALIA COUNTRY REPORT 2003

 

           Source : http://www.ind.homeoffice.gov.uk/default.asp?PageId=193

 

SOMALIA COUNTRY REPORT - OCTOBER  2003

COUNTRY INFORMATION & POLICY UNIT

 

 

I SCOPE OF DOCUMENT

 

1. SCOPE OF DOCUMENT  

1.1 This country report has been produced by the Country Information and Policy Unit, Immigration and Nationality Directorate, Home Office, from information obtained from a wide variety of recognised sources. The document does not contain any Home Office opinion or policy.

 

1.2 The country report has been prepared for background purposes for those involved in the asylum/human rights determination process. The information it contains is not exhaustive. It concentrates on the issues most commonly raised in asylum/human rights claims made in the United Kingdom .

 

1.3 The country report is sourced throughout. It is intended to be used by caseworkers as a signpost to the source material, which has been made available to them. The vast majority of the source material is readily available in the public domain.  These sources have been checked for currency, and as far as can be ascertained, remained relevant and up to date at the time the document was issued.

 

1.4 It is intended to revise the country report on a six-monthly basis while the country remains within the top 35 asylum-seeker producing countries in the United Kingdom .

 

 

II GEOGRAPHY

 

2. GEOGRAPHY  

2.1 Somalia (known officially as the Somali Democratic Republic) has an area of 637,657 sq. km and borders Kenya , Ethiopia and Djibouti . In mid 2000 the UN estimated the population to be 8,778,000. [1a] Somalia is divided into a total of 18 administrative regions or provinces; the largest city is the capital Mogadishu (population estimated in 2000 as 1,219,000). [1a][16] Other important towns include Hargeisa (capital of the self-declared independent " Republic of Somaliland " in the north-west), Kismayo, Baidoa, Berbera, Bossaso, Garowe (the "Puntland" capital), Merka (Merca) and Brava (it should however be noted that there are frequently variations in the spelling of place names in Somalia ). [1a][51] The majority of the population is Sunni Muslim; there is also a small Christian community, mostly Roman Catholic. [1b]

 

2.2 Somali society is characterised by membership of clan-families, which are sub-divided into clans, and many sub-clans; in addition there are a number of minority groups, many of which are also divided into sub groups. [8] The clan structure comprises the four major "noble" clan-families of Darod, Hawiye, Isaaq and Dir. "Noble" in this sense refers to the widespread Somali belief that members of the major clans are descended from a common Somali ancestor. Two further clans, the Digil and Mirifle (also collectively referred to as Rahanweyn), take, in many aspects, an intermediate position between the main Somali clans and the minority groups. [1a][8] Large numbers of ethnic Somalis also live in neighbouring Ethiopia , Kenya and Djibouti . [8]

 

2.3 The national language is Somali; it was adopted as the official language in 1972 at which time it was without a written form, its alphabet was adapted in 1973 using a modified Roman alphabet. [1a][16] Arabic is also in official use and both English and Italian are widely spoken. [1b] In addition to these languages some minority groups speak their own language, the Bajuni for example speak Ki-Bajuni.  However in all contacts with the Somali speaking population there would additionally be a need to speak at least some Somali. [8][50]

 

(For further information on Geography refer to Africa South of the Sahara -source [1a])

 

III ECONOMY

 

3. ECONOMY  

3.1 Somalia is very poor with a market-based economy in which most of the work force is employed as pastoral nomads (an estimated 80%) or subsistence farmers. [1a][2a][38] The economy is primarily agricultural and is based mainly on herding camels, sheep, goats and cattle. The principal exports are livestock and charcoal, in the fertile area between the Juba and Shabelle rivers in the south bananas are the principal cash crop, there is very little industry. [1a] Insecurity and adverse weather have affected the already poor economic situation. [2a]

 

3.2 Since 2002 Saudi Arabia and some other Arab countries maintained a livestock ban due to fears of Rift Valley Fever, the ban has caused further damage to the already devastated economy. [2a][11k][30b] In April 2003 representatives of the Somali business community, representatives of the Transitional National Government (TNG), "Somaliland" and "Puntland" administrations and representatives from Middle Eastern countries importing Somali livestock products met to discuss the development of exports.  The formation of a Somali livestock board was jointly recommended to regulate the industry. [3c]   

 

3.3 Economic problems have severely limited employment opportunities giving rise to serious unemployment problems. [2a][3c] With Mogadishu and Kismayo ports remaining closed other ports, such as Bossaso in Puntland, have benefited from an increase in trade. [3b][33] The private sector has thrived in " Somaliland " with shops in the capital Hargeisa reportedly well stocked with imported goods.  Nevertheless, the economy remains fragile and livestock, together with remittances from the diaspora, remain the economic backbone. [11k]

 

3.4 Severe economic repercussions were felt by thousands of Somalis after the US Government froze the foreign assets of Al-Barakat, the largest corporation in Somalia , operating as a telecommunications company and major remittance bank. This action followed the attacks of 11 September 2001 against the USA , the Americans claimed that Al-Barakat had been diverting funds to Al-Qaeda.  [6a][16] In early 2002 a senior UN official warned the United States that efforts to shut down Somali companies allegedly linked to terrorism was aggravating Somalia 's already desperate situation. [16]

 

3.5 In the first half of 2003, the World Bank resumed operations in Somalia (for the first time since 1991) through its project for low-income countries under stress initiative.  The World Bank is supporting peace building activities overseen by United Nations agencies including HIV/AIDS prevention, training centres and livestock trade. [3c][10ar] Lending to Somalia is prevented due to the fact that the country is in arrears, lacks a functioning government and is affected by an unstable security situation.  However, it was reported that the proposed activities would be covered by a grant from the World Bank's Post-Conflict fund. [10ar]

 

 

To read the other chapters: please click on the respective link below:

 

IV HISTORY

V STATE STRUCTURES

VIA HUMAN RIGHTS ISSUES

VIB HUMAN RIGHTS - SPECIFIC GROUPS

VIC HUMAN RIGHTS - OTHER ISSUES

ANNEX A: CHRONOLOGY

ANNEX B: SOMALI CLAN STRUCTURE

ANNEX C: POLITICAL ORGANISATIONS

ANNEX D: PROMINENT PEOPLE

REFERENCES TO SOURCE MATERIAL