Information on forcible recruitment by militias in Somalia, particularly by Habr Gedir and Abgal clans in Mogadishu since 1994 [SOM21584.E]

According to an April 1995 Human Rights Watch/Africa report, forcible recruitment of fighters for militias has not been a feature of the recent Somali conflict (34, 43, 55). "Militia members are volunteers there is no tradition of forced conscription" (ibid., 55). In Mogadishu, the militias "apparently recruited on a freelance basis rather than through clan levies" (ibid., 34). Regarding recruitment in southern Somalia by General Said Hersi Morgan's militia, the report quotes a relief worker as stating that "forced recruitment was simply unheard of" (ibid., 43).

A researcher at Human Rights Watch/Africa stated in a telephone interview on 18 August 1995 that the organization has no further information on whether or not forced recruitment has been carried out since its April 1995 report.

Two anthropologists specializing in Somalia stated in separate interviews on 17 August 1995 that the practice of forced recruitment was common under the regime of Siad Barre before it fell in 1991, but neither of them was aware of any contemporary incident of forced recruitment (Wilkes University, Wilkes-Barre, Penn.; Colby College, Waterville, Maine).

A professor of political science at Davidson College in Davidson, North Carolina stated in telephone interview on 18 August 1995 that the militias cannot force anyone to fight for them on a long-term basis; however, for a particular battle forcible recruitment may occur (ibid.). The professor explained that the militias are not standing armies for the most part, but rather consist of men who fight when the need arises to protect the clan, or to participate in some looting (ibid.).

According to the professor, there have been incidents of conscription of members of weaker groups, particularly the Bantu, for economic reasons (ibid.). This conscription has taken place in the inter-river region of Somalia, between the Juba and Shebelle rivers and has taken the form of forced agriculture labour, often on the banana plantations in the area (ibid.). For additional information on this subject, please consult pages 38 to 41 of Human Rights Watch/Africa's Somalia Faces the Future, which is available at Regional Documentation Centres.

For general information on the militias in Somalia and their relationships with the local population, please consult Somalia Faces the Future.

This Response was prepared after researching publicly accessible information currently available to the DIRB within time constraints. This Response is not, and does not purport to be, conclusive as to the merit of any particular claim to refugee status or asylum. Please find below a list of additional sources consulted in researching this Information Request.


Anthropologist specializing in Somalia, Colby College, Waterville Maine. 17 August 1995. Telephone interview.

Anthropologist specializing in Somalia, Wilkes University, Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania. 17 August 1995. Telephone interview.

Human Rights Watch/Africa. April 1995. Vol. 7, No. 2. Somalia Faces the Future: Human Rights in a Fragmented Society. New York: Human Rights Watch/Africa.

Professor of political science specializing in Somalia, Davidson College, Davidson, North Carolina. 18 August 1995. Telephone interview.

Additional Sources Consulted

Africa Confidential [London].

Africa Research Bulletin: Political, Social and Cultural Series [Oxford].

Amnesty International Report.

DIRB Country File.

Country Reports.

Critique: Review of the Department of State's Country Reports.

The Indian Ocean Newsletter [Paris].

New African [London].

News from Africa Watch [New York].

Victims and Vulnerable Groups in Southern Somalia.

On line searches of media reports (NEXIS).