Among the 35,000 people evicted from Kaxda District, Mogadishu, a man holds on to the last of his property as he takes a look at the destruction around him. Photo: Shakur Ali/NRC

Thousands of people forcibly removed

Shakur Ali|Published 25. Jan 2018
In Somalia’s capital of Mogadishu, land disputes cause internally displaced people to be evicted from their settlements.

On 29 and 30 December 2017, the worst single mass eviction incident of 2017 occurred in Mogadishu. After a dispute between local landlords about land ownership, close to 35,000 people living in 38 settlements for internally displaced people were forcefully evicted.

“We were awakened early in the morning by the sound of a bulldozer as several groups of uniformed men were ordering us to leave. Though I am glad that my children and I escaped, we had to witness our belongings, shelters, shops and schools being destroyed,” says one of those evicted in Mogadishu’s Kaxda district.

Following the eviction, the Norwegian Refugee Council (NRC) has provided 3,000 people with unconditional cash assistance through funding support from the European Civil Protection and Humanitarian Aid Operation, known as ECHO. This support and collaboration with ECHO will keep people safe and help them get back on their feet.

Evictions put people in harm’s way

Forced displacement is a long standing problem in Somalia. Issues of violence, and the degraded security and physical environment have caused Somalis to have been displaced within their own country for decades. In the current era, as they escape the grip of al-Shabab ruled towns or flee from places affected by drought, internally displaced people are yet again faced with being forcibly removed and evicted from the place they call home.

“Forced evictions continue to affect people in Mogadishu and this is the largest single mass eviction we have seen this year,” Abdirisak Ahmed, NRC’s head of information, counselling and legal activities’ in southcentral Somalia reports.

Forced evictions like these interrupt and undermine the work and services being provided by humanitarian organisations that seek to reintegrate internally displaced people into host communities.

“On average, about 11,000 people are evicted per month, and in 2017, more than 150,000 people were evicted in Mogadishu alone,” Ahmed adds.

Back to square one

Out of the 38 settlements affected by the recent evictions and unrest, 25 were completely destroyed. This has left many people without a roof over their head. In addition, a great number of people have lost their livelihood and assets during the eviction process. In two days, 25 learning facilities were destroyed. This has disrupted the academic school year and left many children without access to education.

Families need a permanent solution as evictions continue to bring them back to square one.

Hawa Noor is a single mother of seven and the sole breadwinner of her family. Together with her four youngest children, she stands proudly in front of her home on a land that belongs to her. Photo: Shakur Ali/NRC


Contributing to solutions for the future

When the armed group al-Shabaab came to her village in Gosha, Hawa Noor, a 50-year-old single mother of seven, fled from her home and sought safety in Kismayo, a town 500 km south-west of Mogadishu. Since the father of her children died several years ago, she has been the sole breadwinner in her family. To make a living, she sells sweets and other homemade snacks around the city. Noor is among 550 internally displaced people and poorer residents who have been granted land tenure through the district authority and our programme’s support.

“I have documentation now that proves I own this land, and things are much easier,” Noor says.

“I no longer have to worry about evictions.”

Land titling and permanent shelter ensure that families are protected, and they dramatically decrease the chance of eviction. We have also helped over 2,000 families to secure their land rights in Baidoa, a city 400 km north of Kismayo, and we continue our work to prevent further evictions in Kismayo.

“This has made a part of my life better because we have a permanent roof on top of our head,” says Noor.

Lessons to be learned

Kismayo and Baidoa serve as a model for the rest of Somalia for the resolution of housing, land and property rights issues for displaced people. There are many lessons to be learned from our programme successes in these two cities, as we foresee evictions to continue throughout 2018.

Read here the post-eviction report carried out by NRC and partners.