Somali evictions surge


The number of Somalis left homeless surged this year as thousands who already fled war, drought and floods were forcibly evicted from mostly makeshift homes, the Norwegian Refugee Council (NRC) said.

The aid group said in a report one of the main factors driving people from their homes were property developers requisitioning land, often without warning, during a building boom in Mogadishu.

More than 200,000 Somalis, or one in 60 of the population, were forcibly evicted in January-July, more than double the number in the same period last year, the group said.

NRC said most evictions were done without due process, including prior notice, and called on government to address the problem by developing land policies and improving access to land for people forced from their homes.

Many fled to urban areas after being displaced by natural disasters and conflict in other parts of the country.

The aid group said Somali authorities and landowners were evicting people from public and private land mainly in Mogadishu, which is seeing a building boom.
“These people are in a vulnerable position. They have nowhere to go,” Evelyn Aero, NRC’s adviser for information, counselling and legal assistance, said.

Somali government officials were not immediately available to comment.

A farmer with eight children interviewed by the NRC said she was not home in Mogadishu when her family was forced out.
“I came back to see my children on the street,” said Halimo Sidow, who fled drought last year in Lower Shabelle in southern Somalia.

A devastating drought last year and this year’s floods forced “a massive migration to urban areas”, NRC said.

Somalia is struggling to recover from more than 25 years of civil war and an ongoing battle between its federal government and Islamist insurgents, but is starting to attract investment from Somalis living abroad.

They send back home $2.3 billion annually and some of that – as well as hundreds of millions of dollars in aid – has been financing construction of hotels, commercial buildings and houses in Mogadishu.

In 2017, the United Nations estimated more than half the population of 12 million needed food aid. A similar drought in 2011, exacerbated by years of war that began in 1991, sparked a famine which killed 260,000 people.