“The people of Somalia just do not have a voice. They are to me the most forgotten people in the world.”
Like many African countries, Somalia suffers from the aftereffects of colonization. Italy and Great Britain left the country unstable, forcing duelling clans to coexist. After an unpopular war against Ethiopia, the longstanding dictator, Mohammed Siad Barre, was thrown out of power, leaving Somalia with no strong government. Somalia structures itself based on clans (groups of people with the same ancestry). Since then, the people of Somalia have suffered from clan violence, disease, terrorism, and famine. Many have fled to Dadaab, a refugee camp in Kenya and one of the largest refugee camps in the world.
- Somalia currently has a central government for the first time in years, but it is highly susceptible to corruption
- al-Shabaab, meaning “The Youth” in Arabic, this local Al-Qaeda affiliate has grown weaker in recent years, although it continues to dominate much of southern and central Somalia—at its peak it controlled parts of the capital city of Mogadishu and the port of Kismayo.
- The Islamic State officially began operating in Somalia in 2016, after staging its first attack against African Union military peacekeepers. They are actively recruiting dissatisfied al-Shabab fighters.
- The African Union – has actively been involved in the fight against al-Shabab since 2007 (mainly in a peacekeeping role, taking over from the United Nations). Its troops are from Uganda, Burundi, Kenya, Ethiopia, and Djibouti, although, it has been slowly reducing its troop presence in recent years.
- The United States has had interest in fighting terrorism in Somalia. However, President Trump also plans to reduce spending in Somalia and has consistently included Somalia as a country in his failed travel ban
- The United Nations conducted multiple failed peacekeeping missions in Somalia during the 1990s, but has since played a smaller role in resolving the conflict.
- January 1991 – Dictator Mohammed Siad Barre flees Mogadishu after rival clan militias attack. Mhamed Farah Aideed and Ali Mahdi Mohamad, leaders of two rival clans, fight to declare themselves president.
- The Somalia National Movement (SNM) declares the northwestern area of Somalia independent, creating the autonomous territory, Somaliland.
- Ali Mahdi Mohamad declares himself president.
- 1992 – Around 350,000 Somalis die of disease and starvation.
- December 1992 – The US leads the UN in the United Task Force (UNITAF), a peacekeeping mission to restore a government in Somalia. The goal is to create security in the region.United States President George H.W. Bush orders emergency airlifts of supplies to Somalia.
- The United Nations launches “Operation Restore Hope” to protect supplies from warlords.
- March 1993 – UNITAF is declared ineffective and transitions into United Nations Operation in Somalia I (UNOSOM I).
- May 1993 – The UN transitions into United Nations Operation in Somalia II (UNOSOM II), with the goal of rebuilding Somalia.
- October 3, 1993 – The Battle of Mogadishu leaves several civilians and eighteen United States park rangers dead. This is commonly known as “Black Hawk Down.” The dead soldiers were dragged through the streets and filmed. The footage was later shown on CNN causing public backlash to the US’s involvement in Somalia. The United States later pulls out of Somalia.
- March 3, 1994 – The UN ends United Nations Operation in Somalia II (UNOSOM II) after the Battle of Mogadishu. UNOSOM II is declared a failure.
- July 24, 1996 – Mohamed Farah Aideed declares himself president and is soon after assassinated. Former ally, Osman Ali Atto, was thought to be the mastermind of his assassination. Atto was also shot and later died of complications during surgery. During this time, warlords increase their fighting.
- 2000 – Cholera outbreak due to unsanitary water kills thousands citizens
- 2001 – United Nations pulls international staff and aide workers from Somalia due to dangerous fighting conditions
- 2002 – Post 9-11, the United States suspects terrorist activity in Somalia and increases presence in the region.
- June 2005 – Transitional government returns to Somalia but interim Prime Minister Ali Mohammed Ghedi is almost assassinated after a suicide bomber kills seven people near his home.Rebel groups, including pirates, start hijacking boats carrying supplies.
- 2006 – Fighting between Islamic extremists, Ethiopian troops, and feuding clan leaders cause many citizens to flee Somalia.
- April 2006 – Somalia grants permission to the US Navy to patrol the shores for pirates
- February 2007 – The United Nations approves a six-month peacekeeping mission called African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM). This mission is still active today and brings outside African troops to restore peace in Somalia. A state of emergency is declared.
- The Somalia Civil War reaches 1 million refugees.
- Spring 2008 – US airstrikes kill Aden Hashi Ayro, leader of Al-Shabaab insurgent group
- June 2008 – The UN Security Council unanimously approves countries sending ships to Somalia to fight pirates.
- April 9, 2009 – Somali pirates capture US cargo ship, Maersk Alabama. Captain Richard Phillips is taken hostage in exchange for the safety of his crew. Philips is rescued a few days later.
- June 19, 2011 – Somali Prime Minister Mohamed Abdullahi Farmajo resigns and is replaced by interim Prime Minister, Abdiweli Mohamed Ali
- July 2011 – The UN declares a famine in Somalia.
- August 2011 – al-Shabab is forced out of the capital Mogadishu, following an offensive spearheaded by about 22,000 African Union troops.
- December 2016 – Transparency International declares Somalia the most corrupt country in the world.
- February 2017 – Somalia has its first presidential election since 1991. Mohamed Abdullabi Farmajo, a dual citizen of Somalia and the United States is elected and brings hope to the Somali citizens of a less corrupt government. Despite threats of corruption and terrorism during the election, the Somali people celebrate the hope of a new democracy.
- March 2017 – US President Donald Trump approves a Pentagon plan to escalate operations against al-Shabaab.
- October 2017 – Terrorist group al-Shabaab, is suspected of being behind a truck bomb that killed over 300 people. The attack was the deadliest terror attack in Somalia history.
- October 28, 2017 – Two bombings in Mogadishu kill 14 people only two weeks after the largest bombing in Somalia’s history.
- Currently, Somalia remains on the list of countries in the Trump administration’s failed Muslim ban. The Trump administration has increased the fight against al Shabaab. Somalia also faces another drought, the third in 20 years, that threatens to bring more famine to the country. Many Somalis are still crossing over into countries like Kenya and Yemen in hopes to escape.
How You Can Help:
- Support refugee communities from Somalia; protest the travel ban
- UNICEF works to help children in Somalia – https://www.unicef.org/somalia/about.html
- For more information and to help expose other crimes in Somalia visit Amnesty International – https://www.amnesty.org/en/countries/africa/somalia/report-somalia/