Global Insider: Somalia Still Unsafe for Large-Scale Refugee Returns

In the aftermath of the late-September attack on Nairobi’s Westgate mall by Islamist militants linked to the Somali terrorist group al-Shabab, Kenyan authorities reportedly stepped up arrests of Somalis living in Kenya. In an email interview, Anna Lindley, a lecturer in migration, mobility and development at the School of Oriental and African Studies, University of London, explained where Somali refugees live and the likelihood of their return.

WPR: What are the main concentrations of Somali refugees outside the country, and how long have they been there?

Anna Lindley: Nearly 1 million Somalis are registered as refugees in the region of origin, concentrated in Kenya (471,906), Ethiopia (245,068) and Yemen (230,855). While Somalis have always lived and migrated across borders in the Horn of Africa, a large refugee presence was established after civil war began in Somalia in 1988. Regional refugee numbers subsequently declined, then skyrocketed in 2007 following the ousting of the popular Islamic Courts Union in Somalia, because of violence between the internationally supported transitional government and the radical movement al-Shabab, and related aid blockages to drought-stricken areas. Overseas, the oldest communities of Somalis were established by oil boom labor migrants in the Middle East and colonial seamen in the U.K. People displaced by the civil war settled in diverse destinations across North America, Europe, the Middle East and Africa.

Keep reading for free!

Get instant access to the rest of this article by submitting your email address below. You'll also get access to three articles of your choice each month and our free newsletter:

Or, Subscribe now to get full access.

Already a subscriber? Log in here .

What you’ll get with an All-Access subscription to World Politics Review:

A WPR subscription is like no other resource — it’s like having a personal curator and expert analyst of global affairs news. Subscribe now, and you’ll get:

  • Immediate and instant access to the full searchable library of tens of thousands of articles.
  • Daily articles with original analysis, written by leading topic experts, delivered to you every weekday.
  • Regular in-depth articles with deep dives into important issues and countries.
  • The Daily Review email, with our take on the day’s most important news, the latest WPR analysis, what’s on our radar, and more.
  • The Weekly Review email, with quick summaries of the week’s most important coverage, and what’s to come.
  • Completely ad-free reading.

And all of this is available to you when you subscribe today.