REPORT: Countering Al-Shabaab Propaganda and Recruitment Mechanisms in South Central Somalia

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Somalia has been at war since 1991, when clan-based warlords overthrew dictator Siad Barre and then turned on each other. This civil war led to the collapse of the rule of law and governance structures. This situation became a breeding ground for radicalisation and militia groups who gained control of parts of the country. The most significant of these groups is Al-Shabaab, a terrorist group link ed to Al-Qaeda.

The Al-Shabaab terror group launched activities that have maimed, killed and threatened the lives of thousands of Somali citizens. Findings from recent studies commissioned by the United Nations in Somalia (UNSOM) indicate that Al-Shabaab causes fear and panic among citizens through ruthless killing of suspected informers. This has had a negative effect on the level of community participation in peace initiatives. In addition, Al-Shabaab uses a vigorous propaganda campaign to lure youth and other vulnerable groups to their membership and build community support.

With the coordinated assistance of the United Nations and other players, the Federal Government of Somalia (FGS) has initiated activities aimed at restoring peace and stability in the country, including the National Programme for the Treatment and Handling of Disengaged Combatants. The programme oversees four Rehabilitation Centres in different parts of the country. In addition, Somali President Mohamed Abdullahi Farmajo has offered an amnesty plan that provides support for Al-Shabaab combatants who disengage from the group. These programs enable
ex-combatants to acquire civilian status and gain skills for sustainable income generation.

Because local Somali communities are most directly affected by Al-Shabaab’s activities, UNSOM has commissioned a study to support and inform the United Nations, the FGS and the international community in the development of programs and campaigns in partnership with local communities. Such programs would strengthen community resilience and build the capabilities of communities and community service organizations (CSOs) against Al-Shabaab.

Source – UNSOM

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