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The ICRC in Somalia

13-08-2013 Overview

In Somalia, the ICRC, in close partnership with the Somali Red Crescent Society (SRCS), responds to the needs conflict victims, often aggravated by natural disasters. It provides emergency assistance, long-term support for community self-reliance, promotes and monitors international humanitarian law (IHL), visits detainees and restores contact between family members separated by conflict.

The ICRC has been working in Somalia since 1977. Its delegation is based in Nairobi since 1994.

Somalia remains profoundly affected by decades-long humanitarian crises of internal conflict and frequent climactic disasters.  Additionally, the cumulative effects of 22 years of protracted conflict, and immediate effects of fighting between the Somali federal government forces backed by African Union troops (AMISOM) and the armed opposition extending into its fourth year, perpetuate major concerns about the population's physical and economic security.

Health care

To ensure those wounded by weapons receive appropriate medical care, the ICRC supports two emergency hospitals in Mogadishu, in addition to 40 SRCS primary health care and mother-and-child clinics. Ad hoc emergency medical supply assistance is provided in case of mass influx of casualties to SRCS and other medical facilities across Somalia.

Food security, livelihoods and access to water

While reducing its large-scale relief programme, the ICRC maintained a strong contingency stock to respond to the lingering effects of the drought and any new emergencies. It carried out major distributions of food in areas of south-central Somalia and Puntland where the population who had been trying hard to recover from the impact of the drought have been facing conflict-related lack of security. Over 1.7 million people in 2012, and 120,000 people thus far in 2013, have been assisted with food and essential household items. The ICRC also provides emergency water rations for people displaced by conflict and affected by lack of rain.

For many years, the ICRC has balanced its emergency assistance by carrying out projects in the agriculture, fisheries, water and infrastructure sectors that are designed to restore and improve the livelihoods and economic security of the communities weakened by the recurrent crises. In 2012, 450,000 farmers and pastoralists have benefited from projects aimed at promoting community self-sustainability.

The ICRC continues to invest significantly in projects that improve Somlis’ livelihoods and access  to water. Over 97,000 people and their livestock benefit from access to clean water through improved boreholes, hand-dug wells and rehabilitated water catchments facilities in south-central Somalia and parts of Puntland. The ICRC helps them increase their capacity to respond to crisis by maintaining an active network of productive water points all over Somalia.

Visiting detainees, promoting IHL and restoring family links

The ICRC seeks to engage in dialogue with all of the various parties to the conflict, including on rules applicable to the conduct of hostilities.

It continues prison visits in south-central Somalia (including Mogadishu) and in Puntland in order to monitor the treatment and conditions of detention, in particular for people detained in relation to the conflict. It shares its recommendations with detaining authorities and provides direct material assistance whenever required.

The ICRC works closely with, and provides substantial support to, the SRCS, its main operational partner. Beyond joint health programming, the two organizations help to reunite families separated by conflict or natural disaster by using the Red Cross / Red Crescent message system, its family links website and radio broadcasts.


ICRC food distribution in El-jalle, Somalia. 

ICRC food distribution in El-jalle, Somalia.
© ICRC / M. Yerow