Casualties and Victim Assistance

Last updated: 23 July 2015

Summary action points based on findings

  • Maintain the Victim Assistance and Disability Working Group as a mechanism to respond to the needs of survivors of landmine and explosive remnants of war (ERW).
  • Support local organizations to build a survivors’ network to create sustainable services and outreach given the security situation that has significantly hampered existing efforts to implement assistance.
  • Find ways to address the extensive economic inclusion needs of survivors, identified in the 2013 survey in Mogadishu, by providing work and training opportunities.

Victim assistance commitments

The Somali Republic is responsible for significant numbers of mine/ERW survivors and cluster munition victims, although the total number is unknown. Somalia has commitments to victim assistance as a State Party to the Mine Ban Treaty.


Casualties Overview

All known casualties by end 2014

3,094 mine/ERW casualties (1,149 killed; 1,518 injured; and 347 unknown)

Casualties in 2014

84 (2013: 43)

2014 casualties by outcome

54 injured; 30 killed (2013: 15 killed; 28 injured)

2014 casualties by device type

6 antivehicle mines; 5 unknown mines; 46 other ERW; 27 unknown device

At least 84 mine/ERW casualties were recorded by UNMAS in Somalia (excluding Somaliland) in 2014. Thirteen casualties were soldiers, 70 were civilians, and one was unknown. Of the total casualties reported, just under half (39; 46%) were children, including 28 boys and 11 girls; 40 were men, and five were women.[1]

The 84 casualties recorded for 2014 is nearly double the number of casualties recorded by UNMAS for 2013.[2]

Differences between annual reported casualty statistics cannot be seen as an accurate indication of change, due to the lack of accurate and consistent casualty data across the years. According to UNMAS, the significant underreporting of casualties and the absence of a comprehensive national casualty monitoring mechanism were some of the greatest challenges to reducing death and injury; also, the lack of baseline data made monitoring of trends impossible.[3]

The Monitor identified 3,094 mine/ERW casualties in Somalia (excluding Somaliland) between 1999 and the end of 2014. Of these, 1,149 people were killed, 1,518 were injured, and for the remaining 347 casualties it was unknown if they survived their injuries.

Cluster munition casualties

The number of cluster munition casualties in Somalia is not known. In a 2014 statement to the Convention on Cluster Munitions, Somalia recognized that there are cluster munition victims in Somalia living in severe conditions with mostly unmet needs.[4]

Victim Assistance

The Monitor identified at least 1,518 mine/ERW survivors from 1999 to the end of 2014.

Assessing victim assistance needs

The Somalia Coalition to Ban Landmines (SOCBAL) conducted a survey of mine/ERW survivors in Mogadishu in collaboration with the Institute for Education for Disabled People (IEDP) in July 2013.[5] The majority of survivors and their families in Mogadishu are in camps for internally displaced persons (IDPs). The SOCBAL survey team visited eight such camps and also observed the living conditions of the mine/ERW survivors, recognizing their extreme vulnerability as survivors and as IDPs. The overall purpose of the survey was to better understand the number of survivors who live in the city, the extent of survivors’ needs, and if any form of assistance had been provided to them. In total, 850 survivors were surveyed, 719 males and 131 females (including 83 boys and 14 girls, all under 15-years old).[6]

Survivors interviewed during the 2013 SOCBAL survey often reported that they had already been surveyed several times, including having their contact details and photographs taken by international and local NGOs, but were frustrated that no assistance had followed.[7]

No baseline information exists in Somalia on the prevalence and circumstances of persons with disabilities, including mine/ERW survivors. The UN Security Council has mandated the establishment of a civilian casualty tracking system in response to reports that the majority of persons with disabilities in Somalia are disabled as a result of the conflict.[8] The UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (UNOCHA) reported 4,500 weapon-related injuries at eight hospitals from January to September 2014.[9] The Ministry of Social Development is responsible for compiling, storing, and managing information on disability, but it did not have an information system on persons with disabilities.[10] Following the collapse of the former central government of Somalia in 1991, no ministry has been managing or recording issues related to persons with disabilities in Somalia.[11]

In Puntland, the Puntland Mine Action Centre (PMAC) collected “victim data and mine/UXO [unexploded ordnance] accident reports” from various sources, including police stations, regional liaison officers, hospitals, and other government officials. The PMAC operations section regularly visited police stations and hospitals as follow-up.[12]

The ICRC plans to improve data collection on landmine and ERW injuries in Somalia in 2015, in coordination with the Somali Red Crescent Society (SRCS), the Norwegian Red Cross, and the ICRC Special Fund for the Disabled The data will be compiled from an existing mechanism for collecting statistical reports from ICRC-supported hospitals and primary healthcare clinics and through SRCS rehabilitation centers.[13]

Victim assistance in 2014

In 2014, survivors in Somalia continued to lack adequate emergency and ongoing healthcare, employment, and training and education opportunities.[14] There were not enough qualified medical practitioners, rehabilitation services and facilities, or social inclusion programs for persons with disabilities. There was a lack of mobility and other assistive devices; locations where they were available were often difficult to access due to conflict and poverty.[15]

In general, in 2014, persons with disabilities, including survivors and conflict amputees, continued to face a lack of accessibility, including physical access, to employment, and to any of the basic social services provided to others in their communities.[16]


Overall disability coordination was lacking in 2014. A meeting of persons with disabilities held by IEDP in January 2014 called for a forum on disability issues to meet on a quarterly basis that would work to increase the participation of persons with disabilities, establish guidelines and principles for implementing disability rights, strengthen the capacity of disabled persons’ organizations (DPOs) and service providers, and establish channels of communication with the government and aid agencies that could provide support.[17]

In May 2014, UNMAS held a Victim Assistance and Disability Working Group meeting in Mogadishu. It was the first such meeting ever held to discuss needs, the development of a plan, and possible support for persons with disabilities, including survivors. Participants included representatives of the Somali Federal Government, the UN, SOCBAL, the IEDP, the National Disability Council, and the Somali Union for the Blind. The recommendations made in the workshop included: strengthening national mechanisms and the provision of integrated support to mine/ERW survivors and persons with disabilities through coordination and the development of a national strategy and a work plan; provision of technical support for the socioeconomic reintegration of mine/ERW survivors and other persons with disabilities; and awareness-raising for persons with disabilities and advocacy for disability rights.[18] DPOs attending the meeting “demanded with strong voice” to be part of the victim assistance decision-making process and working groups.[19] The Working Group was intended to meet quarterly, but no meeting has taken place since the initial meeting in May 2014.

The Horn of Africa Disability Forum, with funding from the Human Rights section of the UN Mission in Somalia (UNSOM), hosted two consultative meetings at the end of 2014. The two meetings, in November 2014, brought together DPOs, civil society organizations, the Ministry of Labor and Social Welfare, and local government officials in Mogadishu to discuss the rights of persons with disabilities and inclusive employment.[20]

As of 1 July 2015, Somalia had not submitted a Mine Ban Treaty Article 7 report for either calendar year 2013 or 2014. It had provided detailed information on victim assistance and the existing lack of planning and services in Form J of its initial Mine Ban Treaty Article 7 report, covering the period to March 2013.[21] Somalia did not make statements on victim assistance at the Mine Ban Treaty Third Review Conference in 2014.

Service accessibility and effectiveness

Emergency and continuing medical care

Ongoing armed violence and conflict continued to erode the minimal health resources available.The number of war-wounded patients requiring treatment in hospitals in Baidoa, Gaalkacyo, Kismayo, and Mogadishu in 2014 doubled compared to 2013. In 2013, the ICRC supported eight hospitals that provided data to the organization; in total, these hospitals registered 2,424 weapon-wounded patients, including 149 patients injured by mines or ERW.[22] In the first nine months of 2014, 4,500 weapon-related injuries were treated at eight hospitals, but no disaggregation of mine or ERW injuries were provided.[23] Mine and ERW victims received treatment at some or all of the 46 ICRC-supported primary healthcare clinics.[24]

Violence against healthcare workers, health facilities, and patients posed a serious challenge to healthcare activities and emergency assistance services.[25] In June 2014, a car bomb detonated at Keysaney Hospital injuring seven people, including two SRCS nurses.[26] In August 2014, an ICRC vehicle struck a landmine in Kismayo, likely injuring the two occupants.[27]

The ICRC continued to provide medical supplies, equipment, funds, staff training, and supervision, along with infrastructure maintenance and upgrades, to the two hospitals in Mogadishu where most weapon-wounded casualties were treated: Keysaney and Medina (community-run). In October 2013, similar support began to be provided to Kismayo Hospital. In addition, a surgical team from the Keysaney and Medinac hospitals in Mogaishu assisted staff in Galkayo in treating casualties transferred from Kismayo.[28]

In August 2013, Doctors without Borders (Médecins Sans Frontières, MSF) closed all its medical programs in Somalia citing “abuse and manipulation of humanitarian action” following attacks by armed groups against MSF that undermined minimum security guarantees needed to maintain assistance.[29]

Physical rehabilitation including prosthetics

SRCS-run rehabilitation and orthopedic centers in Mogadishu and Galkayo (in Puntland) provide physical rehabilitation services including prosthetics for amputees and people with other physical disabilities resulting from conflict. In 2014, the Norwegian Red Cross Society continued to support the SRCS centers, and the Galkayo center received additional technical support from the ICRC Special Fund for the Disabled (SFD); SFD staff could not access the Mogadishu center due to security concerns.[30]

IEDP and SOCBAL reported the availability of rehabilitation services “declined dramatically” in 2014 due to funding and security.[31]

Social and economic inclusion

The IEDP provided technical and vocational training for a cohort of persons with disabilities including landmine and ERW survivors; training including tailoring, small machine repair, and henna applications. Unfortunately, none of the persons who participated in the training were able to obtain employment due to a lack of start-up capital for investment.[32] IEDP also provides inclusive education opportunities for children with disabilities,[33] but less than 1% of children with disabilities attend school of any kind.[34]

To commemorate the International Day of Persons with Disabilities on 3 December 2014, the Horn of Africa Disability Forum, the Somali National Disability Council, and the Ministry of Labor and Social Welfare hosted a celebration in Mogadishu. The event featured a dramatization of the struggles persons with disabilities face in the labor market as well as speeches from civil society, government ministries, and national media outlets.[35]

Psychological assistance

Psychosocial support is extremely limited in Somalia with the Mogadishu Memorial Hospital serving as the only formal provider of such services and reaching only a few dozen individuals.[36]

In August 2014, SOCBAL held victim assistance and peer support training for an emerging landmine and ERW survivor’s network, with the participation of IEDP.[37]

Laws and policies

Persons with disabilities are subject to discrimination, exploitation, and abuse by all actors, public and private, in Somalia without means of addressing violations of their rights. The provisional federal constitution provides equal rights before the law for persons with disabilities and prohibits the state from discriminating against them. This provision was not enforced and does not address discrimination by private or non-governmental actors.[38]

There are no laws requiring access to buildings for persons with disabilities. Three-quarters of all public buildings in Somalia were not accessible for wheelchair users, and there were no public transportation facilities with wheelchair access.[39]

As of June 2015, Somalia had not signed the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD). However, in June 2015, Somalia Explosive Management Agency (SEMA), in its role as Somalia’s national mine action authority, met with the Minister of Women Affairs and Human Rights to discuss the Convention.[40]

[1] Data provided by email from Elena Rice, Head of Programme Management, UNMAS, 6 February 2015.

[2] Email from Nick Quigley, Programme Officer, UNMAS Somalia, 6 February 2014.

[3] UNMAS, “Annual Report 2011,” New York, November 2012, p. 65.

[4] Statement of Somalia, Convention on Cluster Munitions Fifth Meeting of States Parties, 3 September 2014.

[5] The survey was conducted in eight of the 16 districts of Mogadishu: Karaan, Xamar Weyne, Waberi, Wardhiigleey, Howl Wadaag, Dayniile, Wadajir Xamar, and Jadiid.

[6] SOCBAL, “Mogadishu Landmine/ERW Victims Survey 14–28 July, 2013: Summary Report,” 2013.

[7] Ibid.

[8] Amnesty International, “Somalia: Prioritise Protection for People with Disabilities,” 12 March 2015, p. 3.

[9] UNOCHA, “2015 Humanitarian Needs Overview: Somalia,” November 2014, p. 8.

[11] Email from Dahir Abdirahman, Director, SOCBAL, 3 October 2013.

[12] PMAC, “PMAC 2012 Annual Report,” Garowe, March 2013, p. 7.

[13] Email from Srdjan Jovanovic, ICRC, 6 March 2015.

[14] Email from Dahir Abdirahman, SOCBAL, and Abdullahi Osman, IEDP, 18 February 2015.

[15] Ibid.

[19] IEPD, “VA victims assistant working group in Mogadishu today,” 22 May 2014.

[22] ICRC, “Annual Report 2013,” Geneva, May 2014, p. 198.

[23] UNOCHA, “2015 Humanitarian Needs Overview: Somalia,” November 2014, p. 8.

[24] ICRC, “Annual Report 2014,” Geneva, May 2014, p. 196.

[27]Landmine explosion in Kismayo hits ICRC vehicle,” GoobJoog News, 21 August 2014.

[28] ICRC, “Annual Report 2013,” Geneva, May 2014, p. 195.

[29] MSF had been operating in Somalia for 22 years. MSF, “MSF forced to close all medical programmes in Somalia,” 14 August 2013.

[30] Data for 2014 for the Mogadishu center is unavailable, 45 prostheses were delivered by mid-2014 to clients in Galkyo. ICRC Special Fund for the Disabled (SFD), “Mid-Term Report 2014,” Geneva, January 2015, p. 16.

[31] Email from Dahir Abdirahman, SOCBAL, 21 February 2015.

[32] Ibid.

[33] Ibid.

[36] Email from Dahir Abdirahman, SOCBAL, 21 February 2015.

[37] Ibid., 7 August 2014.

[38] Amnesty International, “Somalia: Prioritise Protection for People with Disabilities,” 12 March 2015, pp. 17–18; United States Department of State, “2014 Country Reports on Human Rights Practices: Somalia,” Washington, DC, 25 June 2015.

[39] Ibid.

[40] Email from Dahir Abdirahman, SOCBAL, 10 July 2015.