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Asylum claims due to fear of persecution in Somalia

Somali citizens asylum applications in the UK have significantly reduced in more recent years; however, some persons are still at real risk of persecution in Somalia. In order to establish an asylum claim, a person must show that they have a well-founded fear of persecution for one of a number of reasons. Those reasons are their: race, religion, ethnicity, membership of a particular social group or their political opinion.

Clan membership claims

Somalia is made up of a number of different clans. The majority of clans are Hawiye, Darood, Dir or Isaaq. Digil and Mirifle are neither majority clan nor minority clan. Minority clans often come from very specific regions, such as the coastal communities of the Benadir region which consist of the Reer Hamar, Reer Brava and the Bajuni

In MOJ & Ors (Return to Mogadishu) Somalia CG [2014] UKUT 00442 (IAC)

The tribunal decided that membership of a majority clan would not put a person at risk of persecution or serious harm based on their clan membership. The tribunal also held that in Mogadishu there was no clan-based discriminatory treatment. The tribunal in MOJ only considered the position in respect of Mogadishu and not in respect of the rest of Somalia. In Mogadishu, the tribunal found that only if there was no clan or familial support available in Mogadishu and the asylum applicant was not in receipt of funds from overseas, would there be a real risk of the standard of living falling below that which is acceptable in humanitarian protection terms.

In South and Central Somalia, membership of a minority group can put a person more at risk, particularly in respect of obtaining access to employment, public services, and so on. Where members of minority groups become internally displaced within Somalia, they can be particularly vulnerable and may face discrimination and other human rights abuses which could amount to persecution.  

In some circumstances, a person from a minority clan could seek protection from a majority clan; however, the person claiming asylum will be responsible for proving that they cannot seek protection within Somalia. In respect of internal relocation, it is the view of the tribunal that both majority clan or minority clan members may be able to internally relocate to Mogadishu if their home area is not safe. It will be for the asylum claimant to show that there is no clan or family support in Mogadishu and that they would not be receiving remittances from abroad and therefore would have no prospect of securing access to funds on relocation and would face serious harm or persecution because of this.

Single women and female heads of households, who do not have male protection, particularly those originating from minority clans would not be able to relocate, and the Home Office and the tribunal should recognise that. 

Sexual and gender-based claims

Sexual and gender-based violence is problematic throughout Somalia, and a woman who does not have the support of family friends or clan may well face risk on return. A woman who fears female genital mutilation Somalia may face a real risk of harm if she is 39 years or under and her parents are unopposed to female genital mutilation. In gender-based violence claims, women are unlikely to be able to obtain protection from the state.

Fear of Al Shabaab

Asylum claimants living in Al Shabaab -controlled areas could be at risk of persecution but would not generally be at risk. Some humanitarian aid workers, NGO employees and journalists, for example, could be at risk as well as government officials, employees and members of the security forces however civilians are not considered targets of Shabaab and should not be at risk.

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