Somalia may be considered one of the longest standing failed states in the world today. Two decades of intermittent but fierce conflict, widespread fragmentation of society, climatic hazards, massive displacement and questionable international interventions have left Somalis in a very dire situation.
As a result of the past two decades of conflict, Somalia is now characterised by a significant displacement of populations, erosion of the rule of law and institutional collapse, a massive proliferation of small arms and light weapons, widespread use of landmines, in addition to high levels of food insecurity.
The vast amount of uncontrolled arms and ammunitions are accessible for the majority of the population; these help to sustain a culture of violence in which the use of weapons is seen as normal and legitimate. Consequently the excessive use of force by one individual or groups against others, clan-based conflicts, piracy and the threat from militant Islamist groups are commonplace.
Danish Demining Group’s (DDG) operations in Somalia are focused in and around the capital Mogadishu and the town of Galkayo, split by a “green line” between the semi-autonomous State of Puntland in the North and the self-declared State of Galmudug which claims Galkayo’s Southern part.
DDG have worked in Mogadishu since October 2007. At the beginning, the focus was establishing a Humanitarian Mine Action programme that provides mine risk education to local populations and internally displaced people (IDPs). In 2010, DDG have begun a Community Safety Programme in Galkayo; adding in September 2011 mine action interventions in the area.
The coastal areas of Puntland are still not fully under governmental control and the security situation remains volatile, clan disputes are just around the corner and there is constant fierce of a potential political crisis.
Puntland’s fragile political environment has weakened traditional and administrative conflict resolution mechanisms. In addition the effects of natural disasters such as the recent flooding and drought present numerous challenges for government and international organisations.
Armed militia, such as Al Shabaab and aligned insurgent groups, have in recent years mounted a challenge to the authority of central government.
Puntland has achieved some milestones regarding its governance. Also it is engaging with key humanitarian and development stakeholders, as well as donors, in order to improve population’s access to basic services.
DDGs operations in Puntland primarily focus around rural districts in Ely, Qrdho, Gogodobjiraan. Iskushuban, Dangoroyo and Harfo. In 2012 DDG implemented a demining project in Galgodob District. DDG is also running projects of Mine Risk Education (MRE) and Community Safety (CS).
Somaliland has been contaminated by explosive remnants of war since the early 70’s when the Ogaden war broke out between Somalia and Ethiopia. In the early 80’s violence broke out once again between the Somali National Movement and the Somali government, led by General Siad Barre. The resulting conflict eventually led to Somaliland declaring independence in 1991. Inter-clan rivalries beset the region for some time, but since 1997 Somaliland has enjoyed relative peace and stability.
DDG has worked in Somaliland since 1999 in mine clearance. By 2006 DDG ceased its mine-clearance activities in Somaliland, while continuing small scale Village-by-Village clearance of unexploded ordnance – an innovate approach that has been highly successful in convincing private owners of explosive remnants of war to give up their stockpiles for destruction by working with local leaders in implementing advocacy and education initiatives. Since 2008 this strategy has been included as part of the Community Safety programme that are running out at the moment.