Microsoft word - evaluation of country of origin information report on soma–
REVIEW OF REVISED COI REPORT ON SOMALIA (19 MAY 2010) Judith Gardner Prepared for the for the Advisory Panel on Country Information 3rd September 2010 ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS I am grateful to Dr Laura Hammond and Mark Bradbury for the information they provided. Introduction
This is a review of the re-drafted Country of Origin Information Report on Somalia compiled by the Country of Origin Information Service, UK Border Agency (UKBA), dated 19 May 2010. The following points about the report’s purpose, compilation and use have been noted, as outlined in a letter to the reviewer by Richard Lederle, Head of COIS, (15 July 2010): COI reports are used by asylum decision makers in assessing and determining asylum claims. The aim of the Report …is to be a compact operational tool focussing on issues which frequently arise in asylum and human rights applications from nationals of Somalia… The Report is compiled wholly from material produced by a wide range of recognised external information sources and does not contain any UKBA opinion or policy. It provides a compilation of extracts from the source material identified. The Report does not undertake analysis of the country situation, though information may be processed in so far as it is organised thematically and chronologically, and cascaded from the general to the specific. Al information is attributed, throughout the text, to the original source material, which is made available to those working in the asylum/human rights determination process. The Report is not intended to be a detailed or comprehensive survey. For a more detailed account, decision makers are expected to examine the relevant source documents directly… The structure and format of the Report reflects the way it is used by UKBA decision makers and appeals presenting officers, who require quick electronic access to information on specific issues and use the contents page to go directly to the subject required. It is not intended to be read from start to finish with a clear, linear narrative. Key issues are usual y covered in some depth within a dedicated section but may also be referred to briefly in several other sections. Some repetition is therefore inherent in the structure of the Report. The Report’s structure fol ows a standard template used for al reports produced by COI Service and sets out what should be covered in each section. However, some sections of a particular report may not conform to the template where detailed information is considered unnecessary (if an issue is not of much relevance to the bulk of claims) or as it is sometimes not possible to find the information… As an alternative to providing detailed narrative on topics that arise relatively infrequently in asylum/human rights claims, some reports may only provide web links to useful sources. The feedback we have received indicates that the main bases of claim/human rights issues raised in claims made by Somalian nationals are (in no order of significance):
• General security situation in southern and central regions • Mistreatment by Al-Shabaab • Female Genital Mutilation (FGM) • Members of certain groups, including Bajunis, Benadiri (Rer Hamar), Bravanese, Midgan, Tumal, Yibir and Galgala.
This review, undertaken with the above context, purpose and main issues in mind, has completed three tasks:-
looked at the extent to which concerns identified in the previous review have been addressed;
checked the accuracy, consistency and relevance of the current report;
identified significant gaps or omissions of relevance to the purpose of the report and suggested sources of information, where possible;
Brief Summary of Findings
The key finding is that the May 2010 COI Report for Somalia is a vast improvement on the previous version, (Nov 2009). All of the reviewers’ significant criticisms of the previous version (see Evaluation Commentary UK BA COI Report Somalia, 13 November 2009 prepared by Judith Gardner and Mark Bradbury) have been dealt with and the majority of the reviewers’ recommendations have been implemented. The sections on History, Recent Developments, Security Forces, Abuses by Non-government Armed Forces, Ethnic Groups, Humanitarian Issues and IDPs deserve special mention for the amount of work that has been done to improve their coherence and accuracy. The overall result of the revisions is a much more coherent, consistent, relevant and user- friendly document which should serve its purpose well and be much appreciated by asylum decision-makers. The report’s coverage of the four priority issues for asylum cases, outlined above, is good. The section requiring the most attention is Section 21 on Women, which has a significant amount of out-dated and inaccurate source material and would benefit from an overhaul - the problems with this section were not highlighted in the previous review because other priorities were identified. There are relatively few omissions or gaps - the most significant omission is the lack of specific information relating to the risks of return by Somalis to Somalia. The findings for each section of the report are noted in detail below. FINDINGS Findings are presented fol owing the numbering and format of the report. Al main sections of the report are listed. Latest News
This section now alerts the reader to the fact this is a ‘non-exhaustive selection of significant events’. And each item flags a reference to the relevant section of the report where further relevant information is located.
Useful sources for further information
The UNHCR Refworld reference is incorrect. Try
Spel ing mistake - Al Africa should be http://allafrica.com
REPORTS ON SOMALIA PUBLISHED OR ACCESSED BETWEEN 12 MARCH 2010 And 19 MAY 2010
Add : International Crisis Group paper on “Somalia’s Divided Islamists” 18 May 2010.
Background Information GEOGRAPHY[1.01 – 1.12]
The errors, omissions and inconsistencies noted in the previous report have been addressed. Specific comments:
1.03 There is a misunderstanding here: President Kahin named 6 additional regions rather than new names for ‘previous’ regions; and he named their capitals not their ‘main cities’ (the places mentioned could not be defined as cities, they are administration centres). If reproducing the table from the source cited, the title of the far right column should read Annexed: region not Previous region as the region stil exists but the new, additional region has been created or ‘annexed’ from within it. 1.06 It might be useful to point out here that Gaalkayo is divided between Puntland and South Central. Also, in Somaliland, Burao and Boroma are significant towns with sizeable populations and should probably be noted. 1.11 The web references for the Food Security Analysis Unit Somalia and the UN Cartographic Section do not lead to further maps. The Reliefweb site link is correct and this site has an excellent and wide range of maps. 1.12 The web reference cited does not lead to a map of Mogadishu. COIS: thank you. Points noted and will be amended in the next revision [2.01 – 2.10]
This section of the report now cites information from the UN Food Security Analysis Unit and includes reference to the war economy by including a sub-section on piracy.
HISTORY [3.01 – 3.17]
This section has been substantially revised and restructured, taking on board many recommendations from the previous review. The result is coherent and user-friendly and the selection of extracts gives concise but adequate coverage of the historical period most relevant to asylum work.
RECENT DEVELOPMENTS [ 4. 01 – 4.53 ]
The organisation of this section is a vast improvement on the previous report. It does what it sets out to do – providing ‘a selection of incidents as reported by a number of sources’. The material is organised, more or less, thematically, geographical y and chronologically. The main sources of information used are general y good. A recommended additional source to note is the report of the UN Monitoring Group (March 2010).
4.02 The FSNAU extract quoted refers to a ‘Map 6’ and at the end of the extract the reader is advised, ‘For a map of the effect conflict has had on food distribution, please see ‘page 15 of the report’. This double reference to maps is potential y confusing as the two maps referred to are, in fact, the same map. It might be helpful to omit the final sentence and instead insert ‘[see page 15 of the source document]’ after the reference to Map 6. 4.31 - 4.32 To be chronological the material in 4.32 should come before that in 4.31. 4.35 This paragraph refers to Puntland not Somaliland. 4.36 A word is missing from the first sentence quoted – it should read ‘parliament building’ not ‘parliament’. Also, the subject of the report is Somaliland but the source used is a report by Garowe online – a private Mijerteen affiliated radio station and media website. When using Somali sources the COI report authors should be aware of the source’s clan and political bias in relation to the topic covered. In the case of Somaliland events, it might be more balanced to use a Somaliland source such as the Somaliland Times. 4.44 The consolidation of the agreement between the TFG and Ahlu Sunna Wal Jama’a should probably be mentioned – it is an important development noted in UNSC Dec 09 report. 4.48 – 4.50 This section on Humanitarian Issues or the later Humanitarian section (section 24) should mention that USAID humanitarian funding was stopped during 2009.
Significant events and incidents for the next update will include:
fighting between Puntland government and ‘Atom’s’ militia.
Somaliland’s election of a new president and the peaceful handover
the kil ings resulting from the bombing of Mogadishu’s Muna Hotel
COIS: the section will be completely revised for the next revision. Thank you for the
corrections and suggestions for the next update.
CONSTITUTION [ 5.01 – 5.07 ]
This section has been amended in line with the previous review’s recommendations.
POLITICAL SYSTEM [6.01 – 6.09]
Recommended changes have been made. A useful source on Somaliland’s political system, and its constitution, is Becoming Somaliland by Mark Bradbury ( Currey / Progression/ Indiana 2008). Also, a credible UK-Somali on-line source is www.somalilandlaw.com.
Human Rights INTRODUCTION [ 7.01 – 7.08 ]
This section now provides a region by region overview of the human rights situation. The sources used are appropriate and the material is current (for the period covered by the report).
SECURITY SITUATION [ 8.01 – 8.24]
This section has been substantially updated and improved. To reflect the regionalisation and internationalisation of Somalia’s conflict and the impact of international and regional policies on the conflict, it would be appropriate to
add a sub-section on ‘Somalia and Regional Security Issues’ – especial y Kenya but also Uganda following the Kampala bombing (see East Africa: Kampala bombs regionalise Somali conflict, Oxford Analytica July 15 2010). Also, a sub-section on the involvement of non-regional foreign governments in Somalia’s conflict and security situation might be appropriate eg reference to the US air strikes and the US arming of TFG.
COIS: thank you. Wil include a subsection on regional security in the next update.
To note the Security situation section was renamed Security forces. Information
describing the current security situation was moved to Recent developments within
which subsections covering security in each region were created. This section covers
the security forces and violations committed by them.
ABUSES BY NON-GOVERNMENT ARMED FORCES [9.01 – 9.23]
The relevance, sourcing and structure of this section is much improved. Particularly relevant is the coverage of forced recruitment into the armed militia and the use of child soldiers.
Recommended additional source material for the next update of this section:-
Human Rights Watch (April 2010): “Harsh War, Harsh Peace Abuses by al-Shabaab, the Transitional Federal Government, and AMISOM in Somalia”
International Crisis Group paper on “Somalia’s Divided Islamists” 18 May 2010.
The contents of this section adequately convey the general judicial situations across the three regions. What is missing is information to explain how the judicial system operates and impacts differently depending on whether you are male or female ie the gender dimension – this is of significance for asylum work. One source of information on this is the EC’s Gender Profile for Somalia. An executive summary of this profile can be found at http://www.delken.ec.europa.eu/en/strategy_so.asp [viewed 28 Aug 10]. Below is an extract that it could be relevant to include in the COI report, both in section 10 and 21:
War and state col apse has stripped women of the considerable legal and political gains made during the years after Independence. Since 1991 the re-emergence of customary law, the extended use of shari’a law and resort to clan-based forms of political representation has meant women have been virtually excluded from the political and judicial structures that have emerged in different parts of the country. Somali customary law recognises the rights of men but limits the rights of women. Shari’a law offers women far greater justice but can only be administered by men; in practice it is reportedly often misapplied in the interests of men. Women are disadvantaged by their lack of education and poor knowledge of the Quran. Annex 9 Executive summary of the Gender Profile for Somalia, October 2007
Additional source on Somaliland Law: a credible and informative UK-Somali source of reference on Somaliland law and human rights is www.somalilandlaw.com .
COIS: thank you for the sources. We wil cover the gender dimension of access to
justice in the Women’s section in the next update.
PRISON CONDITIONS [12.01 – 12.05]
The use of Human Rights Watch material in this section improves its relevance.
DEATH PENALTY [ 13.01 – 13.05]
Relevant information on Puntland and Somaliland is missing.
Source: a credible and informative UK-Somali source on Somaliland law and human rights is www.somalilandlaw.com .
COIS: will add information on Puntland and Somaliland in the next revision.
POLITICAL AFFILIATION AND EXPRESSION [14.01 – 14.09]
This section is better organised than before having separate information for each region. However, the content of the South Central Somalia section could be strengthened to more adequately capture the reality of the past three years. As noted in the previous evaluation, asylum officials need to be aware that not since the brutal policies of Siad Barre’s ubiquitous National Security Services have Somalis, in South Central Somalia, lived under such extreme and real threat of punishment, including death, for their political views and affiliations. Sources: Human Rights Watch’s 2009 and 2010 reports.
The next update of the report will need to re-write the Somaliland section following the Presidential elections which resulted in a peaceful handover of power from Riyale to Ahmed Mohamed Mohamoud. COIS: will revise the section in light of comments above, including description of events following and after the Somaliland elections.
FREEDOM OF SPEECH AND MEDIA [15.01 – 15.26]
This section is vastly improved – the content is relevant, sourcing is appropriate and the organisation of material is coherent. HUMAN RIGHTS INSTITUTIONS, ORGANISATIONS AND ACTIVISTS [16.01 – 16.06]
The information provided concerns the situation for Human Rights organisations and activists in South Central Somalia. Somaliland and Puntland also have their problems but the environment is far less hostile for human rights work and this should perhaps be conveyed in the report. It is worth noting Somaliland has a network of human rights organisations, cal ed SHURO-Network. COIS: will consider points above when revising the report. FREEDOM OF RELIGION [17.01 – 17.05]
The content of this section is more relevant than in the previous report. ETHNIC GROUPS [ 18.01 – 18.77 ]
In the previous version of the report this section was one of the most problematic. In the current version, it is clear much work has been done to improve the quality and relevance of the information provided and its presentation. Importantly for its relevance for asylum work, the context, and the concepts of ‘major clan’ and ‘minority group’ are now explained, as is Somalia’s ethnic make-up and the concept and practice of ‘clan protection’. The recommendations to remove the genealogical table of Somali clans and to include information on the system of clan
elders, diya-paying groups and the Tunni groups have been implemented. Good use has been made of the FCO Analyst’s Comments and the information contained in the JFFMR 2000. Extensive use has been made of Gundel’s work which fil s many of the information gaps in the previous report’s coverage for this section. It is helpful that the extracts chosen for this section have not been cut short but retain the length required to sufficiently convey relevant details and the complexity of issues. It is disappointing that no use has been made of Dr Luling’s knowledge of the minority groups. Although not published or on-line her reports for the Home Office should be accessible to the COI compiler(s) and could be obtained from her if not. Use of her knowledge and expertise would further strengthen the minority group section of the report and enhance the value of the information for asylum decision-making.
Sources of Luling’s writings on minority groups include: The Other Somali – Minority Groups in Traditional Somali Society (1983), Notes on the Tunni Torre (2005? exact date unknown), Report On The Midgaan And Other Caste Groups In Somalia (2006), Notes on the Ashraf (May 2007). COIS: wil give consideration to using Dr Luling’s material, alongside other sources, where it is relevant and available in the public domain when revising the report.
Saab and Sab or sab It is possible to understand the basics of the Somali lineage system without coming across the use of, Saab and Sab or sab, but Gundel’s work, cited extensively in the report, makes frequent reference to them and the JFFMR also uses the term sab. One is a lineage name and the other a derogatory label but they can be spelt the same way and it may not be obvious that they refer to two completely separate groups. It is recommended a note is added to the section pointing this out. And, although the explanations are there in the text it might be helpful for the reader to have clarification in one place ie a note explaining the Digil Mirifle, Rahanweyne are said to be descendents of a common ancestor called Saab (also spelt Sab in the report), and the term sab (also spelt Sab) meaning low-caste is used to collectively refer to the outcast groups such as Midgan, Yibir and Tumal. COIS: thank you for pointing this out. We wil clarify this in the next update. 18.66 Citing from the JFFMR 2000, reference is made here to the group known as ‘Tunni Torre’. This is ethnically a completely separate group to the other Tunni. It would perhaps be useful to include Luling and Adam’s account to explain this difference: The distinct group known as the ‘Tunni Torre’ belong to the so-cal ed ‘Bantu’. They are so cal ed because they live in a place on the coast near Brava called Torre or Tore. They are descended either from slaves and freedmen, or from a group of Negro peasants who became the clients of the Tunni - or very likely from both. Their traditions say that they were clients of other clans before moving to Torre. According to I.M. Lewis, ‘Peoples of the Horn of Africa’ (second edition 1994, Haan Associates, London) p 42, who draws on earlier Italian sources, ‘ The Tunni Torre are a federation of [Bantu] people of various origins, situated in the north-east part of the territory of the Tunni of Brava. Like their patrons, they are divided into five sections. One section claims Ajuran origin, another Elai, a third Gerra [Garre] a fourth Hadama, and the fifth Galjaal. Each group is affiliated to a particular section of the Tunni of Brava as a subject or client.’
Source: Report on the Tunni Brava by Virginia Luling and Anita Adam – copy with the Home Office
COIS: wil consider adding this material in the next update of the report. We do not appear to have a copy of this document – if Dr Gardner does, we would be grateful if she could forward a copy.
18.77 Gundel refers to a ‘secret dialect’ of the Midgan and Yibir. Luling, the UK based expert on minority groups, gives a different account on the matter. In the interests of informing asylum decision making it is recommended that Luling’s account be quoted alongside Gundel’s: Midgaan and members of other caste groups …do not have special dialects, but speak like the majority populations of the areas where they live: however some if not al of these groups have a special secret slang, which was developed in order to converse secretly and hide their meaning from the majority population. This is more likely to be known by older people than the young.
Source: Report On The Midgaan And Other Caste Groups In Somalia (2006) by Virginia Luling. COIS: will look to include this information in the next update.
LESBIAN, GAY, BISEXUAL AND TRANSGENDER PERSONS 19.01 The story referred to about a lesbian couple sentenced to death in Bossaso in
2001 was not apparently verified and was the subject of much controversy. Afro reported, "Amnesty International tried to gather further details from contacts in Puntland and the region, but was not able to independently verify any of the available information," afrol.com was told. The rights group believed there was reason to assume that "the story had been fabricated." (Source: http://www.afrol.com/News2001/som006_editor_lesbians.htm )
The Somaliland based NGO, Disability Action Network (DAN) could be a useful source of information for future updates.
WOMEN [21.01 – 21.38]
This section is the weakest in the report and could be improved quite significantly. It contains some out-of-date and or irrelevant content and it is over-dependent on the OECD SIGI report which is a poorly researched document. A key omission is information highlighting how women in the areas Al Shabaab control, regardless of clan or the presence of male relatives, are experiencing discriminatory oppression and abuse unprecedented in Somalia’s history. An essential source document for this issue is Human Rights Watch’s report, Harsh War, Harsh Peace - Abuses by al-Shabaab, the Transitional Federal Government, and AMISOM in Somalia. Published April 2010 this source document’s availability falls just outside the cut-off point for this version of the COI report but it will presumably form a substantial source for the next update. Specific comments: 21.02 The first sentence of the first paragraph and the last sentence of the second paragraph remain relevant – Somalia is not a signatory to CEDAW and institutional and other barriers are major impediments to raising awareness about women’s rights
in Somalia. The remaining sentences could be deleted - they refer to an aspirational, and as yet unfulfil ed, statement made in 2006 by the then UN Special Representative for Somalia. 21.08 The information contained in this UNIFEM extract is dated and should be replaced. A more relevant summary of women’s political position since the start of the civil war can be sourced from the EC’s Gender Profile for Somalia (the executive summary is available online http://www.delken.ec.europa.eu/en/strategy_so.asp ). 21.10 The socio-economic survey referred to by Afrol in 2007 was actually carried out in 2002 and the full report can be viewed on the World Bank’s and UNDP’s websites. I do not know of a more recent wide-scale survey that has looked at the same issue. I suggest, if this information is presented in the COI report it should be sourced from primary sources ie World Bank and UNDP, and the date of the survey, 2002, should be highlighted. Moreover, attention should be drawn to the current context in South Central where, in Al Shabaab control ed areas participation in any form of collective action or community group for political purposes, other than those formed by Al Shabaab, is prohibited or carries the risk of punishment for the participants. 21.11 – 21.12 The anecdotal opinions of representatives from various international organisations contained in the extracts included in these paragraphs were canvassed in Nairobi in March 2007, not long after the Union of Islamic Courts had been ousted from Mogadishu by the Ethiopian army. The context for women’s rights and protection issues in South Central Somalia has changed dramatical y since then. I doubt, for example, any international organisation working on South Central Somalia today would readily argue that in that region ‘women are not vulnerable just because they are women’. Even though there may be some women who, due to their specific circumstances, successfully exert power and influence these will be a tiny minority. Human Rights Watch’s report provides more relevant and wel researched information on gender and vulnerability. Social and Economic Rights [21.14 – 21.23] Parts of this section need revision using more relevant and better researched sources – the paragraphs on Dress Code and Prostitution are the exceptions. Although titled ‘social and economic rights’ there is no content reflecting the fact that in Al Shabaab controlled areas of South Central Somalia Al Shabaab has banned women and girls from working in public places eg as tea and qat-sel ers - with dire consequences for women’s rights and for household food security. This issue is pertinent to asylum work. Paragraph 21.05, in the Overview, provides one brief and relevant extract on this point but the issue needs to be highlighted in this sub-section as wel . As noted above, the HRW report of April 2010 is to date the best researched and most thorough source on this issue as the extract below il ustrates: … Somali women have traditionally engaged in a wide array of small-scale businesses such as selling tea, qat, and fruit in kiosks, small shops, and markets. But al-Shabaab administrations have ordered women to close their shops. As one resident of a southern village explained, “Al-Shabaab said this is social mixing [with men].” These discriminatory bans have profoundly curtailed women’s rights to freedom of movement and to earn a living. In a country with a vast number of war widows and female-headed households, with scarce employment options, they also have left many families without crucial sources of income. Several refugees told us that al-Shabaab enforcers did not hesitate to punish working women who were infirm, elderly, or pregnant, or who had lost all other breadwinners in the conflict. A woman from Kismayo recounted that she was in her third term of pregnancy when al-Shabaab members whipped her in August 2009 for selling tea. They did not appear to care that al-Shabaab had previously abducted her husband and two brothers.They said, “Your husband is supposed to be your provider.” I replied, “You have kidnapped my husband. How is he supposed to provide for me?”.They whipped me twice, even though I told them that if the child develops a problem they would be responsible. They broke all the cups and thermoses. I fled two nights later
(Human Rights Watch: Harsh War, Harsh Peace - Abuses by al-Shabaab, the Transitional Federal Government, and AMISOM in Somalia April 2010)
21.14 and 21.19 the contents of these two paragraphs are taken from the OECD SIGI report. This report is extremely poorly researched; it contains many inaccuracies about the Somali context and much of its information is out of date eg it refers to The Family Code and ‘civil system’ as if they were stil in existence today – whereas state collapse in 1991 brought an end to both. It is unclear which social group (pastoral, agro-pastoral, minority coastal, minority cultivator etc) the details on inheritance and property rights are supposed to refer to. The note about restrictions on women’s access to bank loans is referring to a pre-war situation – with the col apse of the state came the col apse of the banks. As new, private banking and financing systems have evolved women have been significant customers. And likewise, women have been the major recipients of remittances from the diaspora. It is too unreliable to be used as a source document for this report. 21.15 and 21.20 The Afrol article referred to in both paragraphs is citing the World Bank / UNDP social and economic survey conducted in 2002 – the whole report is available online and it would make sense to cite from it directly. The extracts quoted would be more relevant for asylum work if they came with some background context eg on the significant, traditional role women play in the household economy. The final paragraph of 21.20 needs qualifying - although many health facilities exist clients must usually pay for services, very few facilities are staffed by trained personnel or are equipped to deal with more than the most basic health needs, if that. Maybe refer here to MSF’s report cited in 25.03. Recommended alternative sources on pre and post 1991 gender relations and women’s social and economic status and gender relations: Somalia – the Untold Story (a source cited elsewhere in the COI report), and the EC Gender Profile for Somalia (see above) – a full copy of which could be obtained through DFID Somalia. Violence Against Women paragraph 21.32 could be deleted as it repeats what is said at the beginning of 21.27. 21.37 The OECD SIGI report provides no specific reference to help substantiate this claim about sexual violence in Somali households. I have been working on gender issues in the Somali context for many years now and this is not an issue that has been highlighted by any of my informants. As the OECD SIGI report contains many other inaccuracies about the Somali context (see above and also for example, note that contrary to what is said in the SIGI report under the Civil Liberties section, the mobility of Somali women has probably increased as a result of the war and women do not ‘follow’ their husbands. The inter-clan nature of the conflict has meant husbands and wives have had to physical y separate in huge numbers.) COIS: we will revise the section taking into account the comments above. As with other issues on Somalia, finding source material that is relevant, reliable and current is difficult for women, perhaps more so. Thank you for the recommended sources.
Child soldiers [22.22 – 22.25] An additional source valuable in relation to asylum work would be, the Human Rights Watch December 2008 report, “So Much to Fear” which includes a chapter on child soldiers. Another relevant source is Child Soldiers –
Global Report 2008 by the Coalition to Stop the Use of Child Soldiers. Referring to Somalia, this report notes:
“The UIC [Union of Islamic Courts – for whom Al Shabaab operated as the militia] was responsible for significant levels of forcible recruitment of children in the latter part of 2006, declaring publicly their intention to recruit from schools. Children were recruited from schools in Mogadishu and the Hiran region. Headmasters from a variety of Mogadishu schools were reportedly called to meetings in September 2006 in which they were each required to commit a quota of 300–600 adolescent children to military training programs of up to six months”. HUMANITARIAN ISSUES [ 24.01 – 24.11 ]
Overall this section is much improved on the previous version of the report. Perhaps here or elsewhere under human rights, there should be mention that the highest death rate worldwide among aid workers was in Somalia in 2008, and the absence since 2009 of all foreign aid workers in southern Somalia signals a crisis of access. It may also be relevant to mention the impact of domestic terrorism legislation on aid provision leading to stopping all US humanitarian aid to Somalia. 24.09 – 24.10 It would be relevant to make reference to the UN Monitoring Report on Somalia, published 10 March 2010, and its criticism of WFP’s management of food aid. COIS: will consider adding material on the death rate of aid workers – is there a particular source that covers this? With regard to the UN report, though this story was published on 10 March there were subsequently counter claims made after the cut off of the report (12 March). So it was decided to cover the story as it unfolded in the Latest news section. MEDICAL ISSUES [25.01 – 25.18]
An observation – the information provided relates mainly to emergency medical care in South Central Somalia. Of relevance to asylum related work would be assessment of access to treatment and drugs for long-term diseases and disabilities that could affect potential returnees such as diabetes, forms of cancer, psychiatric illnesses. A possible source for such an assessment might be the donors’ Somali Aid Coordination Body in Nairobi. COIS: obtaining reliable and accurate information about health care provision in Somalia is extremely difficult, hence the limits to the section. The additional source looks potential interesting – does Dr Gardner have specific contact details (address/email/phone)?
FREEDOM OF MOVEMENT [ 26.01 – 26.23 ]
This coherence and relevance of this section is much improved by the removal (to a separate chapter) of information about Somalis abroad and the updated information on checkpoints. The majority of information in this section relates to South Central Somalia and this should be noted, perhaps in the section’s title or at sub-section level. In terms of Internal Movement, it would be relevant to monitor and include information on movement around and across the border between Somaliland and Puntland. This border remains disputed territory and whilst there are no official restrictions on movement parts of it are regularly patrol ed by Somaliland forces (as well as recently
Ethiopian forces) and there are security considerations that may be relevant to asylum work. The previous report’s sub-section on Returning Somalis (previous report paragraphs 26.33-26.34), contained out of date information and has been removed. The current version of the report does not contain any information specifically noted as relevant to returns issues such as ‘risks of return’ or ‘treatment of failed asylum seekers’. The only direct reference to the experiences of returnees appears to be 21.27 which notes refugee returnees are among the victims of gang rape in Somaliland. There is other material in the report, which is relevant to decisions about asylum returns, such as the information on forced recruitment into armed groups (section 9), the prevalence of gender based sexual violence (section 21), the ubiquitous practice of FGM of young girls (section 22), and MSF’s summary of the health care situation (paragraph 25.03), for example. It is presumed and recommended that this omission will be rectified in line with the recommendations made in the COI Service-commissioned Collyer-Kulasinghe Review of Information on Return Conditions of Origin for Asylum Seekers in the UK (2010). It is suggested that in the context of Somalia it would be relevant to distinguish gendered and generational considerations when sourcing and presenting returns information ie the risks of return for females (young and older, single and married) and the risks of return for males (especially younger males). Collyer and Kulasinghe note, “the best (COI) reports provide detailed assessments of particular return related issues based on primary research”. Such primary research is largely missing in Somalia’s case – though the Human Rights Watch 2009 and 2010 reports provide relevant details and as noted previously, in 2003 IRIN produced a useful report, A Gap in Their Hearts, on the experiences of separated and returned Somali children. With the escalation of the conflict and serious threat from militant Islamist extremists, conducting research in South Central Somalia continues to be extremely difficult, even for Somali researchers. Sources: Highlighting the human rights concerns raised by returns, Human Rights Watch, in a press release dated 10 July 2010, notes:
The International Organization for Migration suspended its assistance for voluntary returns to Somalia in June 2008 due to concerns about security. On June 3, the European Court of Human Rights ordered The Netherlands to suspend deportation of a Somali asylum seeker to Greece due to concerns that Greece might forcibly return him to Somalia without a proper review of his asylum claim, and on June 11 the court also instructed The Netherlands to suspend the deportation of another Somali to Somalia pending a review of his case by the court. (Source: http://www.hrw.org/en/news/2010/07/22/netherlands-do-not-deport-somalis) The TFG’s official response to the deportation of Somalis from Saudi Arabia is reported by IRIN, July 26th 2010:
“Somali officials have urged Saudi Arabia to halt the deportations, saying conditions in the Horn of Africa country remained dire, with no let-up in the conflict. In May, the UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR), said as many as 4,000 Somalis had been deported from Saudi Arabia over the previous year. "Nobody should deport people to Mogadishu because it is sending them back to a deadly situation," UNCHR Information Officer Roberta Russo told IRIN on 26 July. Earlier in the month, 270 Somalis described by Saudi officials as illegal immigrants were sent back. "We call on Saudi authorities to harbour or give a hand to Somalis escaping the unrest as our other neighbouring countries have done," Mohamed Omar Dalha, Somalia's Minister for Rehabilitation and Social Affairs, told IRIN.
(Source: http://www.irinnews.org/Report.aspx?ReportId=89969 )
The UNHCR Position on the Return of Rejected Asylum-Seekers to Somalia although drafted in 2004 remains relevant to the situation in Somalia today.
COIS: We will give consideration to how best to cover the issue of returns in the
report for the next review, though, as noted by Dr Gardner, the available information
is quite limited. We wil update in light of her comments above.
To clarify the Collyer-Kulasinghe paper was not commissioned by COIS but by the
INTERNALLY DISPLACED PEOPLE [ 27.01 – 27.20 ]
This section does now better convey the enormity of the IDP crisis in Somalia and the appal ing conditions IDPs are enduring. It is suggested that the sub-section currently titled ‘Returns to Mogadishu’ [27.11] be called ‘IDP returns to Mogadishu’ so as to avoid any assumptions that it might be about the return of Somalis from abroad (see above).
Sources: The UN weekly humanitarian analysis and UNHCR weekly reports on IDP movement and the bi-weekly UNHCR Protection Cluster Updates are all good, regular sources of information on displacement related issues. For primary research with displaced individuals see Anna Lindley, 2009, Leaving Mogadishu: the war on terror and displacement dynamics in the Somali regions, MICROCON Working Paper no 15, Falmer: IDS. COIS: thank you for the source. Wil amend subtitle as suggested.
SOMALI REFUGEES IN THE REGION [28.01 – 28.13]
A new section, the information contained here is up to date and clearly presented. Note could be made that ethnic Somalis are found in relatively large numbers among the populations of all three countries ie the Somalis in these countries are not all refugees. It would perhaps be relevant for asylum work if the Kenya sub-section (and or Section 31) included an assessment eg from the British High Commission, of the relative ease with which official Kenyan documentation, such as passports, birth certificates etc can be obtained fraudulently. Also, the Ethiopia sub-section would be more relevant for asylum work if it included an assessment, eg from the Embassy in Addis, of the insecurity and vulnerability Somali refugees face from Ethiopian officialdom, including their vulnerability to arrest and imprisonment without charge. COIS: will consider obtaining further information on the points made above. Annex A – Chronology of Major Events
This is now a coherent and relevant chronology.
Annex B – Armed Groups and Political Organisations
The revisions, including new title, have improved the section. Note: the SSDF became the political organisation behind Puntland, but is not now. The Somali National Movement (SNM) is missing from the list.
Annex C – Prominent People
Missing but relevant are names of the Islamist leaders: Hassan Turki, leader of the Ras Kamboni Brigades and Mukhtar Robow Abu-Mansoor a former spokesman of Al-
And in Somaliland, Faisal Ali Warabe should be mentioned as leader of UCID.
COIS: will revise annexes taking into account comments above.
This revised report is a substantial and wel structured document that should prove a valuable and relevant resource for asylum officials. It is obvious serious attention has been paid to the criticisms of the earlier version and action has been taken to implement recommendations, where feasible. The changes made have vastly improved the relevance and coherence of almost all sections of the report and represent a substantial piece of work. The challenge will to maintain the content’s relevance and ensure the information provided is current and sourced from the best sources available. The work done to date, represented by this version of the report, provides a good baseline from which to carry out this task.
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