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3.9. Individuals involved in blood feuds/clan disputes

Last update: June 2022
*Minor updates: August 2023

COI summary

In Somalia, two strategies of processing conflict are dominant among pastoralist and nomadic groups: violent self-help and blood revenge, which frequently escalate in long-standing feuds; and discussions, negotiations and payment of compensation. Among agro-pastoralists or other sedentary groups, however, blood revenge is less prevalent. [Targeting, 5., p. 76]

Conflicts between individuals quickly lead to conflicts between their immediate kin; if the adversaries belong to different larger groups, the latter confront each other [Targeting, 5., p. 76]. In general, most of those directly involved in clan (or lineage, or family) conflicts are men between around 15 - 40. Men between 15 - 25, roughly, would typically be mobilised by elders to form lineage or clan militias, engage in attacks or put-up defence positions. [Targeting, 5., p. 77]

The reasons for triggering conflicts are frequently connected to access to resources or land [Security 2023, 2.1.1.; p. 66, 2.4.2., pp. 131-13; 2.6.2., p. 160; 2.7.2., p. 174, Targeting, 5., p. 77], access to jobs and markets, access to or protection of women, insults, accidents, or political interests. Perceived acts of humiliation can also result in revenge killings [Targeting, 5., p. 77].

Somali clans and sub-clans have formed diya groups, meaning that members are bound to pay or receive damage compensation collectively as a form of social insurance. For example, in case compensation is not paid, a murder victim’s kin can exact blood revenge on the murderer, but also on members of the murderer’s lineage [Targeting, 5., p. 77]. Revenge killings are normally carefully planned, however there have been incidents of spontaneous revenge attacks. Men of the immediate patrilineal kin of a person who killed another person are prime targets; but depending on the social standing of the killed person, also others from the patrilineal kin-group of the killer, who hold a similarly high social status can become prime targets [Targeting, 5., p. 78].

Individuals considered sacrosanct (e.g. women, children, elderly, religious and traditional authorities, peace delegates, guests, those living under the protection of a group, etc.) are rarely directly targeted, however they can be hurt by indiscriminate violence [Targeting, 5., p. 78]. See also sub-profile 3.13.6. Women and girls in clan conflicts under profile 3.13. Women and girls.

Revenge killings can go on for a long while, even after a break of some years or even despite earlier settlement [Targeting, 5., p. 78].

Weak and powerless clans such as minority clans, who do not have the capacity to exact revenge, often do not receive protection through enforced customary law and have to seek protection through a more powerful clan [Targeting, 5., p. 78].

Clan conflicts have been reported across Somalia. For more details see 4.3.4. Indiscriminate violence under section 4.3. Article 15(b) QD: torture or inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment.


Conclusions and guidance 

   Do the acts qualify as persecution under Article 9 QD?   

Acts reported to be committed against individuals under this profile are of such severe nature that they amount to persecution (e.g. killing).

   What is the level of risk of persecution (well-founded fear)?   

The individual assessment of whether there is a reasonable degree of likelihood for the applicant to face persecution in the whole of Somalia, including South-Central Somalia, Puntland and Somaliland, should take into account risk-impacting circumstances, such as: gender (men have a significantly higher risk), being considered a priority target, clan affiliation, etc.

   Are the reasons for persecution falling within Article 10 QD (nexus)?   

The individual circumstances of the applicant need to be taken into account to determine whether a nexus to a reason for persecution can be substantiated. For example, lineage/clan members involved in a blood feud may have a well-founded fear of persecution for reasons of membership of a particular social group, based on their innate characteristic (i.e. being a member of the lineage/clan) and due to the fact that lineages/clans are known and may have a distinct identity in the surrounding society. Furthermore, in case of inter-clan disputes, persecution of individuals may be for reasons of race.

Exclusion considerations could be relevant to this profile (see chapter 7. Exclusion).