Education under Attack 2010 - Somalia

Publisher UN Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO)
Publication Date 10 February 2010
Cite as UN Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO), Education under Attack 2010 - Somalia, 10 February 2010, available at: [accessed 20 July 2018]
DisclaimerThis is not a UNHCR publication. UNHCR is not responsible for, nor does it necessarily endorse, its content. Any views expressed are solely those of the author or publisher and do not necessarily reflect those of UNHCR, the United Nations or its Member States.

On 20 May 2007, a large explosion killed one and injured others in the Mahmud Ahmad Ali Secondary School in Kaaraa District, Mogadishu, which was being used as a base for Ethiopian officials and soldiers.641 On 9 June 2007, a bomb targeting Somali troops was detonated by remote control beside the 15 May School in Mogadishu.642 On 26 August 2007, a roadside landmine targeted at a convoy of Ethiopian and Somali soldiers killed two children outside the Ahmad Gurey Secondary School in Mogadishu.643

Between mid-2007 and the end of 2008, 144 schools in Mogadishu were closed at various times, as they were attacked or risked being attacked in the conflict between ENDF, the Transitional Federal Government, AMISOM and anti-government armed groups, including Al-Shabaab and clan-based armed groups. According to the UN Secretary-General, these included targeted attacks by the Transitional Federal Government on students and teachers at Koranic schools in Mogadishu, due to a belief that children in the schools were being mobilized to join the insurgency. Thirty-four schools were temporarily occupied by armed groups or used as military bases by armed forces in the same period. On 22 October 2008, the President of the Somalia National Union of Teachers reported that the 34 schools and universities remaining open in Mogadishu had to be closed due to the general level of insecurity, the presence of government troops nearby and the increasing number of deaths of students and teachers.644

The situation in Somalia deteriorated in 2008 amid fighting between armed factions. Several UN agencies urged religious groups and traditional leaders to help stem the violence directed at educational institutions, but attacks continued.645

On 1 January 2008, an insurgent weapons cache hidden in a water tank at a Koranic school in Mogadishu was seized by Somali and Ethiopian forces.646

On 31 January 2008, ANISOM troops from Burundi set up a base at the former National University, Mogadishu.

On 14 April 2008, four teachers and a headmaster were killed by Al-Shabaab Islamist insurgents during a night-time raid on a private English-language school in Beledweyne, south-central Somalia.647 Two were Kenyan and two were Somali with British passports. Witnesses said 15 men armed with machine guns stormed the house where the foreign teachers were living. Later, gunmen set fire to the Aykab school, where all five worked.648

On 19 April 2008, up to 50 children, aged 9 to 14, were abducted, allegedly by Ethiopian soldiers, from a school at the al-Hidaya Mosque in Heliwaa District of north Mogadishu. Amnesty International called on the Ethiopian military to release the children.649

In mid-May 2008, a Kenyan university lecturer was kidnapped by unknown gunmen, bringing the number of teachers and aid workers held to eight, according to the UN.650

Also in May 2008, a young religious scholar who gave a lecture to students at a mosque, criticizing Al-Shabaab's politicization of religion and arguing that "Islam is about peace", was warned that Al-Shabaab fighters had been informed of his talk and intended to kill him, according to Human Rights Watch. The next day armed masked men reportedly came looking for him, but he had fled Mogadishu.651

Human Rights Watch also documented an allegation by a student living in Mogadishu that Al-Shabaab members came into his high school, interrupted the lesson, wrote down the names of students and told them they had to attend classes every evening "otherwise anything could happen". During the classes, they were indoctrinated, pressured to join the armed group and given three days to make up their minds.652

On 31 May 2008, heavy fighting involving artillery and heavy weapons broke out at the former Somali National University, where Ethiopian troops were based.653

On 13 June 2008, an English teacher from Uganda was shot and killed by unidentified gunmen near Afgoye District, 30km south of Mogadishu. Students said the teacher had previously converted to Islam.654

On 19 June 2008, according to Human Rights Watch, Somali police entered the Al Mathal Primary and Secondary School in Mogadishu, after a mortar attack on the international airport that originated from the vicinity of the school. Witnesses said the police smashed and set fire to classroom supplies, beat up and robbed the school's watchman and fired bursts of gunfire across the premises. Classes were underway at the school at the time and one child was reportedly wounded by a stray bullet.655

The UN reported a surge in violent incidents coinciding with the re-opening of schools after the school holiday in August 2008.656

At the end of August 2008, the SYL Primary and Secondary School and Imam-Sahfici Primary School in Holan District were attacked, injuring five students and two teachers.657

On 3 September 2008, a three-day protest against targeted attacks on educational institutions shut down 90 per cent of schools in Mogadishu.658 That same day, Education Fraternity, a Somali NGO, reported that six schools had been attacked in the first eight months of the year, resulting in injuries to six students and two teachers.659

On 8 September 2008, two teachers were shot dead.660 Somali forces were accused of killing the two Koran-school teachers in Mogadishu's Dayniile District.661 On 10 September, four people were killed and two wounded during fighting at Laanta Buuro Training School, Afgooye, southern Somalia.662

On 22 October 2008, Osman Mohamoud, President of the Somalia National Union of Teachers (SNUT), released a statement explaining the closure of the last schools within Mogadishu due to general insecurity and an increasing number of deaths among students and teachers. At that time, the final 34 schools and universities remaining open in the capital were reportedly closed due to the presence of government forces in close proximity. Mohamoud himself fled to Sweden to seek asylum after repeated death threats issued against him by local armed groups and government military forces.663

On 24 October 2008, Banaadir secondary school in Hodan District, Mogadishu, was shelled.664

On 20 December 2008, the Somali police training college in Mogadishu came under mortar fire.665

In the last three months of 2008, five teachers and eight students were killed, and nine teachers and 15 pupils were injured during the shelling of a Mogadishu neighbourhood known as K4, Education International reported. As a result, the last 34 schools and universities remaining open were closed, ending all educational activity in the capital.666

Schools in south and central Somalia have long been closed due to two decades of fighting. Ethiopian and Somali government forces have targeted schools, while insurgent groups have launched attacks against soldiers close to school premises.667

In the first six months of 2009, at least 34 schools were temporarily occupied by armed groups, and at least six schools were raided or shelled between June 2008 and June 2009, according to UNHCR.668

Education programmes were affected by the targeting of development staff. On 16 June 2008, a CARE employee was abducted in the Galgadud region, the second staff member to be abducted in six weeks, prompting CARE to suspend its operations, including a primary education programme for 400 teachers and 5,000 students.669

On 19 October 2008, Mark Bowden, UN Resident/Humanitarian Coordinator for Somalia, said that with 28 aid workers killed in the past year, Somalia had become one of the most dangerous places in the world for humanitarian staff.670

A chairwoman of a branch of the Women's Development Organization, which provides housing, education and training, was killed on 25 October 2008.671 On 6 January 2009, three gunmen shot and killed a Somali working for the World Food Programme while he was at a school monitoring a school feeding programme.

On 16 June 2009, the principal of SOS Hospital Nursery School was kidnapped by armed assailants. On 24 June, the principal was released.672

The Islamic Courts Union (ICU), a militia of 500 to 700 fighters, was reportedly responsible for significant levels of forced child soldier recruitment in late 2006. Children were recruited from schools in Mogadishu and the Hiran region, in accordance with a publicly declared intention to recruit from schools. Headteachers in Mogadishu were told to provide 300-600 teenagers for military training programmes of up to six months. In March and June 2006, the Alliance for the Restoration of Peace and Counter-Terrorism (ARPCT) recruited street children and children from schools, some of them forcibly.673

The UN Secretary-General reported in March 2009 that approximately 1,300 children had been recruited into the Transitional Federal Government forces, the remnants of the former ICU, Al-Shabaab and clan-based armed groups in central and southern Somalia, particularly in and around Mogadishu. Boys in Al-Shabaab were used as frontline combatants and girls were recruited into cooking and cleaning roles. Most of the recruitment took place in schools. In clashes in Guriel and Dhusamareb in December 2008, a reported 30 to 45 per cent of Al-Shabaab combatants were children. Seven of them were killed and three injured.674

[Refworld note: The source report "Education under Attack 2010" was posted on the UNESCO website ( in pdf format, with country chapters run together. Original footnote numbers have been retained here.]

641 International Institute for Strategic Studies (IISS), "IISS Armed Conflict Database,"

642 Ibid.

643 Ibid.

644 UNSC, Report of the Secretary-General on Children and Armed Conflict (2009), 21.

645 CRIN, "Somalia: UN Condemns Attacks on Students, Teachers and Schools," September 12, 2008.

646 IISS, "IISS Armed Conflict Database."

647 Jeffrey Gettleman and Mohammed Ibrahim, "4 Teachers Are Killed in Raid by Islamists on Somali School," New York Times, April 15, 2008; also see, "Somalia: Al Shabaab Responsible for Slaying 4 Teachers," April 14, 2008.

648 IISS, "IISS Armed Conflict Database."

649 IRIN News, "Somalia: UN Humanitarian Chief Calls for Protection of Civilians," April 24, 2008.

650 UN OCHA, "Somalia: OCHA Situation Report No. 20," May 23, 2008.

651 HRW, "So Much to Fear": War Crimes and the Devastation of Somalia (New York: HRW, 2008), 72.

652 Ibid., 49.

653 IISS, "IISS Armed Conflict Database."

654, "Somalia: Uganda Teacher, Elder Killed in Lower Shabelle Region," June 13, 2008.

655 HRW, "So Much to Fear."

656 Office of the United Nations Resident and Humanitarian Coordinator for Somalia, "UN and NGOS Condemn Attacks on Somali Students, Teachers and Schools," September 10, 2008.

657 CRIN, "Somalia: UN Condemns Attacks."

658 IRIN News, "Somalia: Schools Close in Protest Over Insecurity," September 3, 2008.

659 Ibid.

660 CRIN, "Somalia: UN Condemns Attacks."

661 IISS, "IISS Armed Conflict Database."

662 Ibid.

663 Education International, "Somalia: The End of Education," October 22, 2008; and UNSC, Report of the Secretary-General on Children and Armed Conflict (2009), 21.

664 ISS, "IISS Armed Conflict Database."

665 Ibid.

666 Abdurrahman Warsameh, "The End of Education in Somalia," Worlds of Education 28 (December 2008).

667 Ibid.

668 UNHRC, "Somalia Violence Escalates," International News Safety Institute (INSI), June 15, 2009,

669 IRIN News, "Somali: End Attacks Against Aid Workers, Agencies Urge," June 24, 2008.

670 BBC, "UN Worker Assassinated in Somalia," October 30, 2008.

671 FIDH, Observatory for the Protection of Human Rights Defenders Annual Report 2009 – Somalia (FIDH, 2009).

672 IISS, "IISS Armed Conflict Database."

673 HRW, Shell-Shocked: Civilians Under Siege in Mogadishu, HRW report 19, no. 12 (A) (New York: HRW, 2007); US Department of State, 2006 Country Reports on Human Rights Practices: Somalia (US Department of State, 2007); UNSC, Report of the Secretary-General on the Situation in Somalia, S/2006/418 (June 20, 2006); and Office of the SRSG for Children and Armed Conflict, "Developments in Somalia," March 26, 2009,; all as quoted in Coalition to Stop the Use of Child Soldiers, Child Soldiers Global Report 2008, 306-7.

674 UNSC, Report of the Secretary-General on Children and Armed Conflict (2009), 20.

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