Somalia at a glance

Aerial view of Kismayo in south and central SomaliaAn aerial view of the Indian Ocean near Kismayo, a port city in southern Somalia. Credit: UN Photo/Stuart Price

Protracted displacement

The UN refugee agency (UNHCR) estimates that more than 1.2 million Somalis are internally displaced (IDPs). Many of them live in poor conditions and makeshift settlements. In addition, evictions of displaced families and other vulnerable people constitute a reason for concern.

During the civil war, many Somalis fled to Kenya to seek refuge. With relatively greater stability anticipated in the country, however, some refugees from neighbouring countries are now spontaneously returning to their areas of origin. A tripartite agreement governing the voluntary repatriation of Somali refugees living in Kenya has been signed by the Government of Kenya, the Federal Government of Somalia and UNHCR in November 2013. UN agencies and partners are working towards ensuring the safe and sustainable reintegration of returnees in Somalia.


Gender-based violence

Gender-based violence (GBV) is a key concern throughout Somalia. Combined with displacement, sexual violence is one of the worst and most prevalent consequences of more than two decades of absence of rule of law and total insecurity. Women and girls living in settlements for displaced people are especially vulnerable.
More than 75 percent of all GBV cases involve physical assault, rape and sexual assault. Although comprehensive data is difficult to come by, in the past year, well over 5,000 GBV cases were reported in the country. Many more cases, particularly of rape and sexual assaults, go unreported out of fear of social stigma, reprisals from perpetrators or retribution from communities.


Disease outbreaks

Wild polio resurfaced in Somalia in May 2013 after a six-year absence. The region around the capital Mogadishu was the epicentre of the outbreak, but new cases were also reported from other parts of the country.
On February 19., Somalia was marking six months since the last polio case was seen in the country following an outbreak that affected 199 people, mostly children.
Despite the news, the authorities and the UN are taking a cautious approach since the task of eradication is not finished yet. Polio continues to threaten the lives of Somali children and the campaigns to eradicate polio will continue in 2015.

Additionally, aid agencies continue to receive reports of other communicable diseases, particularly cholera, measles, malaria, dengue fever, whooping cough and diphtheria.



Somalia has chronically high malnutrition rates; one in eight children under five is acutely malnourished. Right now, close to one million people are in need of emergency food assistance. An additional two million people are struggling to meet their basic food needs and risk falling into a food security and nutrition crisis if they don’t receive sustained humanitarian assistance.


Basic needs

Lack of clean water, poor sanitation and hygiene is widespread in the country and is closely linked to malnutrition and disease outbreaks.


Youth unemployment

Young people in Somalia (14 to 29-year-olds) make up 42 percent of the population. The unemployment rate for youth is 67 percent and this figures is even higher among young women. This constitutes a large problem as it makes young adults vulnerable and puts them at risk of recruitment by armed forces and groups.


Unexploded ordnances

A challenging legacy of the conflict is the number of unexploded ordnances in the country, such as land mines.