UNOSAT releases new satellite analysis of displaced people in Mogadishu

24 July 2013, Geneva, Switzerland - UNOSAT released Update N. 5 of its analysis on internally displaced persons (IDPs) in Mogadishu indicating a decrease in the number of camps in the Somali city. A total of 379 distinct IDP shelter concentrations were identified as of 3 June 2013 in Mogadishu, representing a decrease of 134 IDP sites since the last UNOSAT analysis in May last year. According to UNOSAT analysts, the estimate of the total number of IDP structures located in Mogadishu is at least 61,000, mostly informal shelters.

UNOSAT has provided repeated satellite imagery assessments of IDPs in Mogadishu since July 2011, resulting in one of the most comprehensive long term IDP monitoring efforts based on commercial satellite imagery. This type of analysis is used by UNHCR and other humanitarian agencies for situational awareness but also for monitoring of trends and for operational decision making concerning areas of difficult or unsafe access.

The report concludes that “there has been a sustained, large scale internal movement of Somali IDPs within Mogadishu between May 2012 and June 2013, as indicated by a 26% decrease in the total number of open, spatially-distinct IDP shelter sites from 513 to 379; further, there has been an apparent decrease in the total number of IDP shelters as suggested by the 15% reduction in the total surface area of IDP sites, from 3.9 million square meters to 3.3 million square meters during the same period”.

The report does not comment on the cause of the decrease in IDP camps within Mogadishu, but it notes that new sites have been erected around Mogadishu, with the largest concentrations in Daynile and Wadajir districts, as well as along the road to Afgoye.

“This report is the fifth in a series of IDP analyses done by UNOSAT since 2011 but the first in which we see the number of IDP camps decrease in several areas of the city”, says Lars Bromley of UNOSAT. “The IDP population continues to be very large and moving around a lot, with many having moved from Mogadishu to the Afgoye Corridor in the past year. We are going to publish a separate report on that area soon”.

According to UNHCR, Inside Somalia, there are an estimated 1.1 million people still displaced from their homes while over one million more are living in exile as refugees in neighboring countries. When visiting Mogadishu on 9 July 2013, the UN High Commissioner for Refugees expressed his solidarity with a population that, he said, "has suffered on a scale that is beyond measurement."

Photo above: A detail of the new UNOSAT analytical report.

Photo below: IDP in Mogadishu (credit UNHCR/Modola).

Link to UNOSAT data repository on the Horn of Africa and previous analytical reports.