Somali Crisis

Somalia is on the eastern coast of Africa bordering Djibouti, Ethiopia, and Kenya. Entangled in a vicious civil war since the 1990’s, Somalia and its people have been negatively affected by the violence. The lives of the Somali people have only been made worse by extreme floods and droughts displacing people from their homes. In 2018, approximately 880,000 Somalis lost their homes and the only available shelters are overcrowded and heavily underfunded. There is widespread famine due to food shortages, as well as disease outbreaks due to the unsanitary conditions. In the past 30 years, Somalis have sought refuge in countries such as Kenya, Ethiopia, Yemen, and the United States. However, as political violence, the effects of climate change, and the coronavirus pandemic continues, more people in Somalia will be displaced from their homes or die if the necessary aid is not received.

Politics & History

Somalia is located in the Horn of Africa, with an estimated population of 15 million. Before the emergence of European powers, Somalia was known as the Land of Punt, which many Sultanate empires ruled until the late 19th century. The region was then colonized during the Scramble for Africa, splitting Somalia to form the colonies of Italian and British Somaliland. Both states were eventually united to form the independent Republic of Somalia in 1960. Nine years later, the Supreme Revolutionary Council gained power of Somalia and formed the Somali Democratic Republic, which eventually fell in 1991.

During the 1980s, resistance grew against the administration of Siad Barre (1969-1991), eventually sparking a dispute between the Somali Armed Forces and guerilla fighters in 1988. The dictatorship ended in 1991, but due to lack of an effective central government in Somalia, civil war broke out that is still continuing to this day. Although many peace deals were negotiated throughout the 1990’s, they were ultimately unsuccessful.

Since then, Somalis have worked toward forming the foundations of a new government while others have left and continue to leave the country to seek asylum. The ongoing political unrest and refugee crisis has made Somalia one of the most dangerous countries in the world today. According to the UNHCR, the majority of Somalia’s 750,000 refugees have fled to the neighboring countries of Kenya, Ethiopia, and Yemen. Unfortunately these are nations already dealing with internal conflict, as a result of natural disasters due to climate change, and violence due to political instability widespread throughout the region.


The financial status of refugees varies in the country they are in, where countries like Djibouti, Ethiopia, Kenya and Yemen provide basic assistance and healthcare through asylum camps. However, over the last few years, the quality of these camps have deteriorated, where food rations are reduced. Due to the low standard of living and lack of freedom in the camps, there are some undocumented Somalis that live in urban areas, forfeiting their refugee statuses. Access to employment also depends on the country they move to, but it is generally difficult to obtain. Somali refugees are denied employment in Ethiopia and Kenya and employment in Egypt is almost impossible. As a result, Somali refugees can only work in small businesses or domestic labor. Loss of state and UNHCR support narrows aid down to only private charity and religious organisations.


Somalia is located on the eastern coast of Africa, just west of the Middle East. Due to its proximity to the equator, the climate is very hot and dry year round, with less than 500 mm (19.7 in.) of rainfall per year. Rainfall is extremely unpredictable, and fresh water has also become scarce, so an overwhelming number of livestock have died. Agriculture based on nomadic pastoralism or grazing, is unreliable, contributing to famine as well as the droughts the region suffers from.

Although Somalia has the longest coast in Africa, its fishing industry is very underdeveloped. Previous government policies protected pastures and forests, but they also included very weak fishing laws allowing for international fishing and destruction of coastal habitats. When the government was overthrown in 1991, the protections disappeared and the international fishing companies remained. This competition has greatly reduced the ability of Somalia to use their greatest natural resource available to them as it gets depleted by other countries.

Social & Local

While the southern regions experience flash flooding, northern and eastern regions have suffered from droughts resulting in food insecurity. Conditions in Somalia have been like this for nearly 30 years, so many families will spend the majority of their lives in shelters. Over 650,000 Somalis have been displaced and forced to make shelter out of scraps like old clothes, plastic bags, and cardboard. Somalis born there do not have access to education as well as healthcare.

U.S Involvement

Since 2011, the US has provided $253 million in development assistance to facilitate a stable, secure, and more formal economy. Since Trump took office after President Obama, there has been a drastic decline in the amount of Somali refugees accepted into the United States. The number went from 57,000 during 2009-2017 to about 3,000 refugees in the last 4 years.

Although a Drought Response Plan has been launched to provide life-saving assistance, only 20% of the $710.5 million US dollars have been funded.

EU Helping Somali Refugees

The EU is helping Somalia by funding humanitarian projects. Some of these include life-saving assistance, allowing access to basic necessities such as water and food, and even providing cash transfers directly to families to sustain their needs whether it be education or food. Overall, the EU and its connected networks provide 35% of the humanitarian aid Somalia receives.

Where are refugees relocating to?








266,074 (Sep 2020)

220,753 (Sep 2020)

200,709 (Sep 2020)

109,162 (2001-2020)

41,123 (Sep 2020)

Further Breakdown of Somali Refugees in the USA

Fiscal Year




Total (2001-2020)

Population Accepted