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Last update: August 2023

The situation in Benadir/Mogadishu should be seen in light of the situation in the neighbouring regions of Lower Shabelle and Middle Shabelle.

[Main COI references: Security 2023, 2.3., pp. 108-119; COI Update 2023, 1.2.1., p. 9; 1.3.1., pp. 12-13; 1.3.4., pp. 16-19]


General information

Benadir region is located in the south-east of Somalia and covers mostly the same area as the city of Mogadishu, Somalia’s capital. Benadir comprises the 17 administrative districts of the capital Mogadishu. As well as being the seat of the Somali federal government, Mogadishu is the country’s primary economic hub, with a large private sector and vibrant business activity around its seaport.

While Mogadishu is inhabited by individuals from all Somali clans as well as minorities, it is largely dominated by the Hawiye clan family who controls 15 districts and enjoy benefits, such as local tax revenue, contracts, and jobs. The significant number of IDPs has contributed to the heterogenic ethnic make-up of the city, most of them being Digil-Mirifle and Somali Bantus.

In 2021, UNOCHA estimated the population of Benadir region at 2 683 312 inhabitants.

Following the war waged between AMISOM/TFG forces and Al-Shabaab and the latter’s withdrawal from Mogadishu in 2011, the city experienced a large influx of displaced persons. UNOCHA estimated the region’s IDP population at 904 000 in 2021.

Background and actors involved in armed confrontations

Mogadishu is nominally controlled by the FGS security institutions and hosts the ATMIS force headquarters. At the same time, Al-Shabaab has heavily infiltrated the state apparatus and exerts its activities in the city, including tax collection and terrorist attacks. The security situation in Mogadishu is characterised by the conflict between Al‑Shabaab and anti-Al-Shabaab actors [Security 2021, 2.3.2., p. 90].

It is reported that the various federal, regional and district security forces present in Mogadishu often clash with one another. They generally answer to clan authorities rather than to a governmental chain of command. Private military and security companies also operate in Mogadishu, primarily providing risk management services, armed security, and convoy protection, and playing the role of ‘gatekeepers’ between the green zone – a zone surrounding Mogadishu’s highly secured airport zone and where international and government officials reside, and the city [Actors, 7.3.3., p. 90].

Al-Shabaab does not directly control any areas in Mogadishu, where it has not had an overt presence in over a decade. However, acting as a network, with operatives hidden among the population, it has maintained the capacity to carry out attacks and targeted assassinations [Security 2023, 1.2., p. 21]. Al-Shabaab was involved in 74% of the incidents in Benadir between 1 July 2021 and 30 November 2022 [Security 2023, 1.4.3., p. 35].

After the start of the government-led offensive against Al-Shabaab in August 2022, the group reportedly redeployed to Benadir and Lower Shabelle [COI Update 2023, 1.1.1., pp. 5, 8]

A number of clan and personal militias are present and easily mobilised in Mogadishu. Their mobilisation occurred during the first months of 2021 in the context of ongoing political and electoral impasse, whereby the incumbent government and opposition forces clashed against each other. Clan militia and protection forces have been the primary source of protection for residents. These militias are almost exclusively composed of Hawiye, a factor that reinforces their local dominance. [Security 2021, 2.3.2., pp. 88-90]

Besides those main actors, ISS, although a ‘Puntland group’, carried out attacks in Mogadishu during the reference period [Security 2023, 1.2., p. 22].

Nature of violence and examples of incidents

Benadir/Mogadishu is one of the focus areas of Al-Shabaab attacks. During the reference period, the group carried out attacks targeting members of the NISA, the SNA, the police, AMISOM/ATMIS, and Turkish forces. Al-Shabaab conducted several complex attacks against hotels and other busy locations. Several attacks resulted in civilian deaths.

Illustrative security incidents include two Al-Shabaab coordinated attacks on hotels, a number of attacks claimed by Al-Shabaab targeting tea shops and restaurants that were frequented by civilians and government/security officials. For instance, the group, armed with explosives and firearms, attacked and besieged a hotel on 27-28 November 2022, killing eight civilians and one army member and injuring at least one minister. An attack on a restaurant on 22 April 2022 killed six people, while an attack on a teashop on 13 September 2021 killed at least 11 people, including civilians and a shooting at a café killed 5 people.

On 5 March 2023, Al-Shabaab militants were reported to have killed ten people they considered drug dealers in Yaqshid and Dayniile districts.

In January 2023, Al-Shabaab conducted an attack against a governmental building and the presidential palace killing at least 7 civilans.

Al-Shabaab also claimed the attack on a busy market intersection, which targeted the Ministry of Education building on 29 October 2022, that killed at least 121 people and injured another 333, and an attack on a police station that injured three police officers on 11 August 2021.

Al-Shabaab’s capabilities were also demonstrated through a suicide siege campaign ongoing since September 2022 in the capital city of Mogadishu.

Also, a number of roadside bombings were reported. These included IED attacks which targeted convoys carrying senior Somali security personnel and AMISOM troops. [Security 2023, 2.3.4., p.120]

Other attacks, including an attack inside an IDP camp, a mortar attack on a residential area, and assassinations of traditional elders, businessmen and other civilian figures, went unclaimed.

The group also launched mortar attacks on Halane camp (airport zone) and, in one instance, was able to infiltrate the airport zone to carry out an attack inside. Moreover, some instances of bombings were reported in the vicinity of the presidential palace.

According to ACLED, 15 of the 26 suicide attacks reported between July 2021 and November 2022 were perpetrated in Benadir region and resulted in 203 fatalities.

Incidents: data

ACLED recorded 898 security incidents (an average of 12.2 security incidents per week) in Benadir region between 1 July 2021 and 30 November 2022 ranking the region second in terms of the highest number of security incidents after Lower Shabelle [Security 2023, 1.4.1., p. 39]. Out of those incidents, 559 were coded as ‘battles’, 159 as ‘explosions/remote violence’ and 180 as ‘violence against civilians’. In the period from 1 December 2022 to 14 April 2023, 264 security incidents were recorded in Benadir representing an average of 13.8 security incidents per week. Out of those incidents, 136 were coded as ‘battles’.

Geographical scope

Specific information about the geographical scope of the indiscriminate violence within Benadir/Mogadishu was not available at the time of writing. 

Fatalities among civilians and non-civilians

In the 17 months between July 2021 and November 2022, ACLED recorded a total of 901 fatalities in the region. In the 4.5 months between December 2022 and mid-April 2023, ACLED recorded a total of 213 fatalities in the region. Compared to the figures for the population in the region as from 2021, this represents approximately 42 fatalities per 100 000 inhabitants for the whole reference period.


Between July 2021 and November 2022, 665 individuals were newly displaced from Benadir according to PRMN. Of these, 374 individuals were displaced within the region, while the remaining 291 individuals were all displaced to Bari. In the same period, conflict and insecurity resulted in 112 031 individuals arriving in Benadir from regions across South-Central Somalia, including Lower Shabelle, Middle Shabelle, Mudug, Hiiraan, Bakool, Bay, Galgaduud, Middle Jubba and Lower Jubba.

Between December 2022 and March 2023, 372 individuals were newly displaced from Benadir, according to PRMN.

Further impact on civilians

Roadblocks present a ‘recurrent security challenge’ in Mogadishu. In the peripheral districts of the region, members of armed groups extorted money from traffic users, businesses, and residential places in illegal roadblocks [Security 2023, 2.3.4., p.120]. Nine humanitarian access incidents were documented by UNOCHA during the reference period. Moreover, a rising issue in the Somali context was the drifting of many Somali youth towards organised criminal gangs, especially in the Somali cities, notably in Mogadishu [Security 2023, 1.2., p. 23].

Looking at the indicators, it can be concluded that ‘mere presence’ in the area would not be sufficient to establish a real risk of serious harm under Article 15(c) QD in the region of Benadir/Mogadishu. However indiscriminate violence reaches a high level, and, accordingly, a lower level of individual elements is required in order to show substantial grounds for believing that a civilian, returned to the territory, would face a real risk of serious harm within the meaning of Article 15(c) QD.