Africa has a long history of conflict, but of that history Somalia is the center for some of the largest conflicts. The history of Somalia has been hit with conflict after conflict, not only between rival clans but also with other countries, and the most recent with the US and Al-Qaeda. The country has descended into a country where clan-based warlords have been competing with each other non-stop and no one is controlling the nation as a whole. Ongoing fighting has taking a toll on the justice and security progress for the country. Somalia is also one of the least developed countries in the world. This is because the different clans there fail to agree on certain decisions.
The consequence of these disagreements has the people fighting often and most of the times the fights escalate to wars. Political, economic and cultural are all part of the complex causes of the war. Many external and internal actors have played different roles during the various stages of the conflict. Somalia has been without a functioning central government since General Mohamed Siad Barre was ousted in 1991. The clans that were involved at the time had tried to come up with a suitable replacement, but had failed to do so, and that resulted in clan rivalry. The country had descended into a civil war that has now gripped the country for 20 years. The cost of the civil war on the civilian population is enormous and the Genocide Intervention Network has marked Somalia as an Area of Concern, noting that “the scale of harm…is at a level with similar conflicts in Afghanistan and Pakistan”(Freg, 1).
Somalia has been through war for years and has faced many consequences that has been affecting them, but there will be peace found after they find the ways to stop the conflict and get the support needed. The main conflict started when the central governor Mohamed Siad Barre fled the country in 1991. Siad Barre had introduced a clan system of governance that dominated economic and political life during his time. He appointed loyalists to positions of leadership and power. The Somali National Movement emerged in Conflict and State Security in the Horn of Africa, 43 1981 to stop the cruelty that was happening against the people.
The failure of the opposition to filling the power vacuum left behind by Siad Barre after his flight into exile in 1991 marked the beginning of war for Somalia. After governor Mohamed Barre had fled, the Somali capital went into the hands of of the warlords and the clans, and they started to claim cities as their own. As more and more conflict started to occur, it made it harder to help restore Somalia because there was no capital that was equal to all Somalis. Somalia emerged into a number of poorly defined tribal territories, i.e.
Puntland, Somaliland, Jubaland, Rahaweynland, Marihanland, etc., most of which had little capacity to provide bare minimum services to their own kind. The intention of the formation of these territories were not based on ideology other than clan supremacy. The period 1991-1992 was marked by the most intense conflict, when the different clan factions fought for control of land and resources in southern Somalia.
This resulted in the devastation of the inter-riverine areas, consequently causing famine and the disruption of farming and livestock production. Increasing numbers of refugees left the country for neighboring Kenya and Ethiopia at that time. The number of Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) increased dramatically. The 1991 formation of independent Somaliland in the northwest created an enclave of reconstruction and relative peace. “The scarcity of Somalia’s resources is one of the driving forces of the conflict, as different groups compete for these limited resources” (Afyare, Barise, 12). Competition for resources and power, military repression and the colonial legacy were the long-term or background causes of the Somali conflict. In addition, misuse of clan identity, the availability of weapons, the large number of unemployed youth, and some features of Somali culture that reward the use of violence significantly contributed to the formation and escalation of the conflict. Somalia has faced many consequences through the conflict they have gone through.
Half of the population is dependent on health relief and food aid. The government has been unable to implement the rule of law, and external aid constantly faces the threat of diversion. Sections of the population have been left to deal with the devastating consequences without adequate access to aid. The Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) estimated that 1.5 million Somalis are displaced within the country and more than 650,000 are living as refugees in neighbouring countries. The Food Security Analysis Unit of Somalia (FSAU) takes a look at livelihoods, and estimates that 3.25 million are in need of the most basic emergency food aid, which is a 77% increase since early 2008. There is no medical care being delivered at the hospitals, on either the north or south side of the city.
Those who are suffering through medical conditions, such as diabetes, are most likely to get help through the efforts of private physicians working out of their private homes in the community. Surgical care for those who are brought to hospitals (approximately 500 to 1,000 per day) is provided by Somali doctors and nurses who have decided to stay and approximately 30 to 40 expatriate physicians, nurses, and logistic support staff. There are too few staff to attend for more than a day and those who are in need of attention lack nursing support. The hospitals have few beds and most patients lie on mats or cloths on the floor. Sanitation systems do not work and there is no electricity.
There were barely any results in 2016 when the government commitments to improve security in areas under its control, and build capacity of rule-of-law institutions. According to the World Health Organization report (2013), 72 percent of all deaths in Somalia are directly related to infectious diseases, compared to 27 percent in all other regions combined. Absence of shelter, food, and water for significant periods of time, and illness and further abuse while they are displaced ruins any sense of security or, importantly, hope for a brighter future. The current Somali president took a positive step in August by signing a law establishing a national human rights commission. The government also made important commitments to human rights protections during its Universal Periodic Review at the United Nations, but in practice it failed to address violations against the internally displaced and attacks on journalists, among other serious abuses. There are a few ways that Somalia can deal with the conflict and consequences they are going through. The first way to help with the conflict would be to create a peaceful environment.
There are two main sources of violence that exists in Somalia. The first is political in nature. The northern part of Somalia has found peace and has a functioning administration that intends to separate from the rest of the country.
Bigger regions have fought several times over owning smaller provinces. Both internal and external actors, with different intentions, were involved in these conflicts. Ending this type of violence requires political solutions. The criminal activities of freelance militias constitute the second source in insecurity. After the civil war many irresponsible militias got ahold of all kinds of weapons which are now used to commit criminal offences against civilians, including murder, robbery, rape and kidnapping. A way to inherit a peaceful environment is to perhaps add local security guards to protect civilians against physical conflict.
Another example is to find ways to deal with all the criminal activities to minimize the crime actions. To do this the shari’a courts, the business groups and the elders could deal with the criminal activities that occur, and that can only happen if these groups were encouraged and supported. Using international peacekeeping forces to monitor and train the Somalis during the implementation period would be important to build the confidence of the various groups. Another main issue is abuse of power that occurred during the conflict.
Therefore, a way to stop this is designing political arrangements that could regulate the exercise of power that is crucial for building a durable peace environment. In Somalia, there is no democratic government and it is not practical at this time, so any meaningful peace agreement in Somalia must include an acceptable power-sharing formula for the various clans. Instead of Somalia having disciplined and organized political parties, they have clan-based parties that are owned by the leader. To make this better the society of Somalia can come together to vote on having democratic parties. Another way to deal with the conflict and create peace is to deal with the justice issues.
The question here is that how can the people of Somalia trust in their government, when in the past those leaders committed crimes against their own people. If Somali elders, religious scholars, intellectuals and genuine leaders come together and debate this issue, they can agree on a formula that will accommodate the security demands of the newly created weak institutions and the rights of the victims of past atrocities. A general amnesty among the public may also be encouraged.
The capacities of the country and its people are limited for the present time. Most Somalis are displaced internally or are refugees outside the country. The civil war has destroyed much of the domestic sources of revenue. In addition, the scarcity of Somalia’s resources is one of the driving forces of the conflict, as different groups compete for these limited resources. Therefore, Somalis cannot be expected to recover from this long civil war by themselves. The international community has a major role to play in helping to redevelop Somalia’s economy and institutions.
The people of Somalia have been going through war for years and are still dealing with the consequences, and the only way to help them is to realize what started the conflict and how to stop it. The war the people of Somalia has been going through has gone against their rights. Somalia’s protracted conflict has multiple and complex causes. The combination of external intervention, the greed and the people’s legitimate grievances resulted in an all-out war. The factors that have been identified by people worldwide are numerous, and with that people believe that comprehensive strategies have to be put in place for creating a durable peace in Somalia.
Further research is needed in order to provide policymakers and stakeholders with practical suggestions for addressing these problems.