In the Horn of Arica lies Somalia, a country that is intertwined with widespread lawlessness, ineffective government, terrorism, crime, and stagnation of development.
The country is ranked second based on Found for Peace Fragile States Index. From 2005 Somalia was between fifth most fragile states in the world and in this year it is the first year since 2008 that it was not on the first infamous place. Social, economic, political and military indicators show a state with high corruption, government ineffectiveness, and no political participation, low level of democracy, high poverty, economic decline and power struggles. For an estimated population of more than 7 million, comprising of 6 major Somali clans and other groups’ and 18 regions, history and even foreseeable future will include many challenges.
Somalia has been without a formal parliament for more than two decades since the overthrow of President Siad in 1991 by opposing clans. No agreement has been reached on replacement and clan warfare and collapse of the state began. In the same year north-west part of the country unilaterally declared the independence of the Republic of Somaliland. It has not been internationally recognized, and Somaliland has no formal diplomatic relations and presence in international forums, but this part of the country remained stable in comparison to others. Somaliland experienced many setbacks, wars, embargos on imports by the Gulf States, the return of refugees and territorial disputes, but it has an elected government, control over its borders and other attributes of a sovereign state. In 1998, before the Somaliland was declared the Puntland Federal State of Somalia emerged. It is a form of ethno state. It was founded on the unity of the Harti clan. Between mentioned two self-declared states are many territorial disputes. Puntland was also recently known as the home of Somali pirates, but both mentioned self-declared countries have in recent history put in place strict laws against piracy and pirates.
A lot of international interest and actions have been put into stopping piracy at the coast of Somalia. Most media have constantly reported about piracy as a threat to international shipping in the Gulf of Aden and not much have been said about piracy as a consequence of poverty and pollution. Some of the second is also on European hands, since European firms’ illegally and immorally dumped toxic industrial waste in exchange for payment to Somalia. On one hand piracy caused great economic losses with hijacking, taking longer routes and attacks on ships, but on the other it was a desperate move of the citizens that saw a way of survival. Piracy resulted in some casualties, various ransom paid, international condemnation, the number of pirates convicted and imprisoned. Anti-piracy measures included three international naval task forces that operated in the region: Combined Task Force 150, Combined Tasks Force 151 and European Union (EU) naval tasks with name Operation Atalanta – EU Naval Force. Most of the population saw piracy as just cause since their waters were polluted by foreign vessels and have interrupted fishing costumes and last but no least even dumped toxic waste and illegal fished in their territories. Based on EU report most pirate attacks were taking place between 2009 and 2011 and have come to a near stop last year with none of the vessels held by pirates but nonetheless numerous hostages hold.
In history divided country between Italy and Britain had captured international attention after year of lawlessness, famine and massive flows of refugees in neighboring countries began, but sadly all attempts to restore peace in the country were unsuccessful. Success was not reached maybe also because of static global North framework on how to end civil and other wars through negotiations. International organizations nowadays use narrow lens and uses standard peace processes. Maybe other alternatives should be considered. Maybe al-Shaabab even though marked by the United States of America (USA) since 2008 as terrorist group can with cross-clannish, adaptability, strong resource base and young voice be part of the solution for Somalia. Because of the weakness of the Transitional Federal Government (TFG) and defeat of the Islamic Courts Union (ICU) al-Shaabab has rapidly advanced and controls most of the South-Central Somalia. Numerous issues arise with mentioning al-Shaabab, including women’s rights, refusing of allowance of food and humanitarian aid to starving Somalis, but there needs to be engagement with the group and other Islamist groups in the country in order for the peace process to be successful. After entitlement of al-Shaabab as terrorist group cooperation with them can have judicial consequences for all participants. Al-Shaabab have gained civilian support since it have provided nominal security, stability, redistribution of wealth, health care, education, infrastructure and other basic things on the regions it controls. We of course cannot overlook violence against civilians, coercive use of the Sharia courts, but we can learn from al-Shaabab that decentralized authority work better in opposing of the centralized one. Kroc Institute of International Peace Studies alerted that al-Shaabab is not a homogeneous group and therefore cannot be looked at as a hole. The blacklisting of al-Shaabab prevents participation in the political process and discourages dialogue from all sides. Peace and sustainable nation building, reconciliation and resolution cannot be built without including of social structures such as clans kinship and Islam that are both embodied with the daily lives of Somalis people.
With no central authority or organ environmental threats are harder to fight with and are mostly not even addressed. In Somalia there are no and never were any organs or organizations that would deal with environmental problems and because of that the country is even more vulnerable. Water scarcity because of very low rainfall and very high evaporation and droughts are very frequent. That leads to water shortages, lack of food, starvations and even deaths. To make things worse, we need to add man made environmental problems such as water pollution, which results in health problems, deforestation and overgrazing results in desertification and soil erosion, furthermore problems cause also illegal fishing, urbanization and industrial toxic waste dumping in the sea. Environment in Somalia is unfortunately in degradation. The international community should therefore support governance structures to combat illegal and unsustainable resource exploitation, exports and the dumping of waste in Somalia seas or land.
Country comprise of an area known as Somaliland, Puntland, and Central and Southern Somalia has through history seen many external and foreign military interventions including foreign assistance and peacekeepers on its territory. Somalia has been also faced with international sanctions, but the United Nations Security Council recently, partly lifts the embargo posed to the state. Some progress has been made since for the first time this year since the year 1991 the United States has recognized the government.
Poverty rates are very high in the country and more than half of the population based on World Bank lives below the extreme poverty line of one dollar per day. Insecurity and droughts have attributed to the political and economic decline and chaos in the country. The population has turned to unsustainable exploiting of natural resources to survive and has led to even more environmental problems. Dependence on livestock and nomadic and pastoralist (60% of the population derives a livelihood from pastoralism-based livestock production) communities creates further vulnerabilities. Basic living conditions in the country that is among least developed in the world are in a very porous state. A lot of people are internally displaced (IDPs) because of civil war, clashes between clans and even because of environmental insecurity, food and water scarcity. As of December 2014 International Displacement Monitoring Centre (IDMC) estimated over 1.1 million IDPs in Somalia, but having in mind that distinguishing between IDPs, economic migrants, returned refugees and pastoralists is also very challenging. Numerous failed attempts to establish peace and reconciliation inside and from the international community have left Somalia in great humanitarian crisis and so far little that has been done has improved overall situation. Why there is not any constant reporting about situations like this? Why developed countries intervene only in some cases and forget about unsuccessful operations? Why don’t we do something to prevent the suffering of millions? I am asking myself is it really all about capitalism and benefits? Is there no solidarity and human compassion left in this world and why the world just does not care anymore about Somalia that has been in this situation for more twenty years?