Region: Eastern Africa
Population: 9,558,666 (July 2008 est.)
Surface area: 637,657 sq km
Currency: CFA Somali shilling (SOS)
GDP per capita: Purchasing power parity US $600 (2007 est.)
Somalia has suffered a human rights and protection crisis for the last 20 years. The protection of civilians in the context of the ongoing armed conflict and cyclical humanitarian emergencies, systematic impunity and lack of accountability as well as the need to build national mechanisms and institutions capable of adequately responding to the various human rights challenges remain major concerns.
The human rights and protection situation is characterized by violations of human rights and international humanitarian law, including attacks against civilians and civilian objects, extrajudicial executions, arbitrary arrests and/or prolonged detentions, gender-based violence including conflict-related sexual violence, abductions, ill-treatment and torture, violations of freedom of expression, discrimination in political participation, the recruitment and use of children by Al-Shabaab as well as by security forces.
In Somalia, 2,087 boys and 40 girls were recruited and used in 2017. 931 were killed and maimed, 391 girls and 1 boy suffered from sexual violence, often in camps for internally displaced persons. The attacks on schools and hospitals amounted to 64 and 58 respectively.
Incidents related to the humanitarian access denial increased to 37 the stated year.
With a population of 7.7 million in 2006, and an income per capita estimated in 2002 to be $226 (compared to $515 in Sub-Saharan Africa), Somalia is one of the poorest countries in the world. The UNDP’s Human Development Index ranked Somalia 161 out of 163 countries in 2001. The civil conflict, continuing insecurity in many parts of the country, and poor access to services and infrastructure have made conditions worse than they were before the civil war.
Somalia has suffered a human rights crisis for the last 20 years, characterized by serious violations of human rights and humanitarian law. The protection of civilians in the context of the armed conflict, combined with impunity and lack of accountability, is of major concern. The lack of rule of law and the climate of insecurity has created an environment in which certain categories of professionals, such as journalists and judges, are increasingly targeted for extrajudicial killings. An entire generation has grown up with access to education and the country as a whole suffers from a lack of knowledge about human rights. Women and children’s rights are routinely violated. The collapse of the humanitarian situation has further aggravated the human rights crisis and resulted in massive displacement of Somalis from the Southern regions into TFG-controlled territories and across the borders into Ethiopia and Kenya. The vulnerability of the displaced has raised acute protection concerns. In the margins of the 18th session of the Human Rights Council, the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights has advocated for a human rights based approach to the immediate, medium and long-term strategies for addressing the food crisis.
Somalia lacks natural resources and faces major development challenges, and recent economic reverses have left its people increasingly dependent on remittances from abroad. Its economy is pastoral and agricultural, with livestock-principally camels, cattle, sheep, and goats-representing the main form of wealth. Livestock exports in recent years have been severely reduced by periodic bans, ostensibly for concerns of animal health, by Arabian Peninsula states. Drought has also impaired agricultural and livestock production. Because rainfall is scanty and irregular, farming generally is limited to certain coastal districts, areas near Hargeisa, and the Juba and Shabelle River valleys. The agricultural sector of the economy consists mainly of banana plantations located in the south, which has used modern irrigation systems and up-to-date farm machinery.
A small fishing industry has begun in the north where tuna, shark, and other warm-water fish are caught, although fishing production is seriously affected by poaching and the lack of ability to grant concessions because of the absence of a generally recognized government. Aromatic woods--frankincense and myrrh--from a small and diminishing forest area also contribute to the country's exports. Minerals, including uranium and likely deposits of petroleum and natural gas, are found throughout the country, but have not been exploited commercially. Petroleum exploration efforts, at one time under way, have ceased due to insecurity and instability. Illegal production in the south of charcoal for export has led to widespread deforestation. With the help of foreign aid, small industries such as textiles, handicrafts, meat processing, and printing are being established.
Despite the lack of effective national governance, Somalia has maintained a healthy informal economy, largely based on livestock, remittance/money transfer companies, and telecommunications. Agriculture is the most important sector with livestock normally accounting for about 40% of GDP and more than 50% of export earnings.
Nomads and semi-pastoralists, who are dependent upon livestock for their livelihood, make up a large portion of the population.
Livestock, hides, fish, charcoal, and bananas are Somalia's principal exports, while sugar, sorghum, corn, qat, and machined goods are the principal imports. Somalia's small industrial sector, based on the processing of agricultural products, has largely been looted and the machinery sold as scrap metal.
Somalia's service sector also has grown. Telecommunication firms provide wireless services in most major cities and offer the lowest international call rates on the continent. In the absence of a formal banking sector, money transfer/remittance services have sprouted throughout the country, handling up to $1.6 billion in remittances annually. Mogadishu's main market offers a variety of goods from food to the newest electronic gadgets. Hotels continue to operate and are supported with private-security militias. Due to armed attacks on and threats to humanitarian aid workers, the World Food Programme partially suspended its operations in southern Somalia in early January 2010 pending improvement in the security situation. Somalia's arrears to the IMF have continued to grow.