by Kellin McGowan (June 2021)


Due to armed conflict and climate change, 750,000 Somolians have taken refuge outside their homeland. 

Here are the key players:

Mohamed Siad Barre: Former president of Somalia whose twenty-two-year tenure was cut short in 1991, when he was ousted. 

President Mohamed Abdullahi Mohamed: Current President of Somalia. Attempted to extend his presidential term by another two years but backed down after intense international and internal pressure.  

Al Shabaab: Sophisticated al-Qaeda-linked group responsible for deadly attacks on civilians and Western forces throughout the region. The group’s central goal is to establish an Islamic state in Somalia. 

Civilians: Somalians have not only experienced decades of continuous violence, but also recently have become victims of the increasing effects of climate change, which, in this region, takes the form of severe flooding. 


Somalians have been devastated by poor infrastructure, poverty, and homelessness stemming from decades of civil war and violence. Further, flash flooding has made the already dire situation more dire. 


Somalia’s violence started in 1991 following the ouster of Mohamed Siad Barre. Immediately after the ouster, militant groups struggled for power, including one named al-Ittihad al-Islami. Since then, Somalia has been devastated by civil war and terrorist attacks. 


Neighboring countries like Ethiopia, Yemen, and Kenya, despite having similar problems, are the most common destinations for Somlaians to seek refuge. 

Why is it so hard for Somalians to find refuge?

One of the main difficulties for Somalians is that they find themselves in a protracted refugee situation, when at least 25,000 refugees from a given region need refuge for more than five continuous years. Thus, Somalian refugees must find places where they can live for this significant length of time.