Journalists and critical voices face harsh crackdown

Looming famine amid forced eviction of IDPs

At a press conference in Nairobi on 17th January 2018, Peter de Clercq, humanitarian coordinator of the United Nations Assistance Mission in Somalia, declared that food security needs had nearly doubled in the country due to drought and insecurity which have caused nearly two million internally-displaced (IDP) Somalis. An estimated 1.2 million children face malnutrition in 2018, and de Clercq stated that 1.6 billion USD is urgently needed to save 5.4 million people facing starvation. Last year, a famine was averted due to an enhanced humanitarian response and increase in donor contributions. 

Despite the looming famine, forced evictions of IDP camps on the outskirts of Mogadishu on 29th and 30th December 2017 left more than 24,000 people homeless on the outskirts of the city. This includes about 3,000 children, according to a statement by UNICEF and Save the Children. An analysis of satellite imagery by Amnesty International shows several thousand makeshift buildings, including schools, community centres, health and sanitary facilities, latrines, and water points now reduced to rubble. It is still unclear what prompted the sudden demolition of the 23 IDP camps, but the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs confirmed the destruction cost more than 200,000 USD of donor money. Aid workers and journalists were allegedly barred from filming the demolition, and witnesses claim that military personnel beat anyone who tried to resist or question the demolition. The Somali government has promised an investigation into the incident. 


On 28th December 2017, Somali authorities arrested a correspondent with Nairobi-based RTN Somali channel and owner of local radio station City FM, Abdishakur Abdullahi Ahmed, also known as Shaasha in Hirshabelle state. Authorities have accused him of airing false news after he reportedly criticised the local administration. He was released on 8th January. 

On 7th January, a regional court in Borama, Somaliland, sentenced Kalsan TV journalist Mohamed Abdilaahi Dabshid and Ahmed Dirie Liltire, a journalist for SBC TV and Xeegonews to two years in prison on charges of "subversive and anti-national propaganda, bringing the Nation or the State into contempt, and bringing into contempt the flag or national emblem of a foreign state", according to a statement by the Human Rights Center-Somailand. The charges relate to an article allegedly published on Xeegonews claiming that Ethiopian militias are being trained in Awdal region. However, the Human Rights Centre -Somaliland and the Committee to Protect Journalists could not find the article allegedly published in Xeegonews . The two were arrested on 26th December 2017. 

According to the Media Association of Puntland, government forces physically assaulted five journalists on 13th January 2018 when they attempted to report on the arrival of visiting Somali Republic President Mohamed Abdullahi Farmaajo at an airport in Galkaio. The journalists were denied entry into the airport to report the visit. Burhan Mohamed Abdi of Puntland TV, Abaadir Abdulkadir Cilmi of SBC TV, Jamal Farah Adan of Daljir Radio and Ahmed Abdirashid of Puntland TV were not seriously injured in the assault. Bahja Abdullahi Mohamed of Radio Codka Nabada and Star TV, however, sustained injuries to her face and was taken to a clinic soon after for treatment.