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Somalia: EU Asylum Agency sheds light on an under-reported conflict

Monday March 13, 2023


The European Union Agency for Asylum (EUAA) has published two Country of Origin Information (COI) reports on Somalia, providing a detailed update on the security situation and shedding light on the difficulties that fighters and their families face when trying to disengage from Al-Shabaab. In doing so, the Agency continues to support EU+ asylum authorities with critical contextual information on a poorly reported conflict. The COI reports will further inform the next Country Guidance note on Somalia.

As found by the EUAA, the Security Situation in Somalia remains volatile, violence is indiscriminate, and the humanitarian situation very serious, with almost three million of internally displaced persons. Famine, while averted for the time being, is considered a strong possibility next Spring. The EUAA has recently reported that food insecurity is a principal push factor in many regions of origin that drive asylum needs in Europe.

While clan-based violence continues to be a serious concern across the country, the Al-Shabaab – anti-Al-Shabaab struggle remains the main conflict driver in Somalia, with most of the security incidents perpetrated by the armed group. In this context, the EUAA has explored existing avenues for members of the group to defect, desert or disengage. Formal (i.e., government-assisted) and informal options to exit the group and reintegrate society are, however, limited, and dangerous, including for relatives. Women and children related to former Al-Shabaab members often face stigma and integration challenges.

EU Asylum Situation for Somali nationals

Between July 2021 and December 2022, Somalis were the fourteenth largest group of applicants for international protection in the EU+. During this period, Somali monthly applications fluctuated between 1 200 and 1 700. Unsurprisingly, given Al-Shabaab’s desire to recruit young fighters, self-claimed unaccompanied minors accounted for 13 % of all Somali applicants in this period. Since July 2021, EU+ countries issued approximately 23 300 decisions at first instance on Somali applications, with 57 % of the decisions granting refugee status and subsidiary protection.


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