Fear of forced recruitment to al-Shabaab or forced marriage are the most common reasons for applying for protection. Many of those who apply for protection in Norway refer to the security situation in their local area.
Figures from the past two years show that we rarely reverse UDI's decisions. In 2021, we changed (reversed) UDI's decisions in 17 % of cases. The most important reason we reject many cases is that we do not believe the whole, or parts of, the applicant's statement concerning his or her identity or experiences in Somalia. When we consider whether a statement is credible, we make an overall assessment of the case. Among other things, we consider whether the statement is coherent, consistent and logical, and seems to describe a personal experience. We also consider the statement in relation to other information in the case, such as information about the country in question.
What do we consider?
In many cases, who the applicants are, where they come from and which clan they belong to are crucial factors. One of the reasons for this is that there are Somalis living in Kenya, Djibouti and Ethiopia in addition to Somalia. If there is doubt as to where an applicant comes from, there will also be doubt about his or her citizenship. There is also a major difference between the security situation in Somaliland and Puntland in the north and in the rest of Somalia. It is also important to consider which clan an applicant belongs to, since this says something about his or her name and family network.
Most men who apply for protection are afraid of being forcibly recruited to al-Shabaab. Family and acquaintances have attempted to recruit some of them, while others say that they have been contacted by local members of al-Shabaab.
Among women who apply for protection, the majority are afraid of forced marriage. They are afraid of being forcibly married to members of al-Shabaab or older men.
Some, both men and women, state that they are afraid of al-Shabaab for other reasons. This could be because they have worked as journalists, been accused of spying for the government or have simply broken al-Shabaab’s rules.
In addition to the applicants’ statements, we always assess the security situation in the area they come from. At the moment, we do not believe that any parts of Somalia are so unsafe that everyone who comes from a certain area needs protection.
Everyone who applies for asylum in Norway is obliged to assist in clarifying their identity. Applicants who have a passport must hand this in. Other documents may also be accepted as proof of identity. Applicants who do not have ID documents are obliged to do their best to obtain such documents.
We conclude that an applicant's identity is either substantiated or not substantiated:
Substantiated identity: We believe that it is probable that the applicant is who he says he is. Documents and the applicant's statement can help to substantiate their identity. As a rule, the identity of the applicant must be substantiated before a residence permit can be granted.
Not substantiated: We believe that it is not probable that the applicant is who he says he is. This is the case when the applicant has not helped to establish who he is and where he comes from, by, for example, providing incorrect information. The reason we believe the identity has not been substantiated must always be included in the decision.
In cases where we maintain the UDI's decision, it is usually not concluded whether the applicant's identity is substantiated or not.
From 1 August 2018, Norwegian authorities will recognise some Somali passports as travel documents. This applies to Somali passports issued either at Somali embassies, or in the Benadir region, after 1 January 2014.
Even though some Somali passports are recognised as travel documents in Norway, this does not mean that Somali passports are credible enough to document the applicants’ identity. This is because Somalia for many years has lacked public authorities that can confirm a person's identity. This means that we can not be sure that the information used to issue a Somali passport is correct. Knowledge of home town and clan affiliation is therefore still important in assessing the identity of a person from Somalia.
Some Somali have other ID documents, but we do not place importance on this. This is because all previous public archives and offices were destroyed or raided during the civil war in the 1990s. In some cases, we can attatch some importance to documents that were issued before the civil war.
The UDI has made a video on how they assess identity in asylum cases, residence permits, citizenship cases, and in cases of revocation of permits. The video is subtitled in Norwegian and translated into Somali. You can watch the video on youtube.
In addition to the applicants’ statements, we always consider whether the area they come from is so dangerous that they need protection. We call this an assessment of the security situation. Both international case law and decisions made by several of UNE’s Grand Boards show that there is a high threshold for granting a permit on the basis of the security situation in a country.
In order to grant a permit on this basis, the general level of violence must be so high that any person will face a real danger simply by being in the area. The European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR) has stated several times that this is only relevant in extremely violent and turbulent situations.
In our assessment, no one is protected against refoulement to Somalia on grounds of the security situation alone. The security situation has changed over the years and may change again. The security situation also varies between different areas of Somalia.
Applicants say that they come from Mogadishu in many of the cases we process. There was a period from autumn 2010 until autumn 2012 where persons from Mogadishu were granted protection on grounds of the security situation alone. After 2012, no one has been granted protection on grounds of the security situation in Mogadishu.
The ECtHR has assessed the security situation in Mogadishu several times after 2012 and has reached the same conclusion as UNE. The latest ECtHR judgment is from 2015 (external link). The security situation in Mogadishu was considered at a UNE Grand Board hearing as recently as 1 June 2017.
There are regular reports from Mogadishu concerning suicide attacks and other attacks carried out by groups including al-Shabaab aimed at, among others, the authorities, armed forces from the African Union’s peacekeeping forces (AMISOM), representatives of aid organisations and journalists. The attacks are not aimed at civilians, although they do also affect civilians.
On April 25th 2021, fighting broke out between various clan militias in Mogadishu. The background was political tensions over the failure to conduct presidential and parliamentary elections. The parties quickly came to a solution that helped prevent further fighting.
Most other cases we consider are from applicants who say they come from other areas of southern Somalia than Mogadishu. We have consistently considered the security situation in these areas to be sufficiently stable to allow applicants to return there. Attacks also take place in other parts of southern Somalia, but to a lesser extent than in Mogadishu.
We consider few cases where applicants say they come from Somaliland and Puntland. We believe that the security situation in these areas of Somalia has been stable and good since the 1990s, and, therefore, no one has a right to protection on these grounds.
We rarely grant protection in cases where UDI has refused an application. Some are granted permits on humanitarian grounds. This is usually because of serious health problems or children’s connection to Norway.
Since Somalis live in all of Somalia’s neighbouring countries, identity is important. We need to know if the applicants come from Somalia or if they are Somalis from one of the neighbouring countries. As a starting point, we base our assessment on the applicants' own statements about who they are, where they come from, and which clan they belong to.
We use many different sources. Much of the information we use has been collected by Landinfo, a unit that prepares reports on topics that are important for UDI and UNE. Recommendations from the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR, external link) are also important. We read reports from the European Asylum Support Office (EASO, external link), the Food Security and Nutrition Analysis Unit (FSNAU, external link) and the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA, external link), among others. We also keep up to date with reports in the media and from other organisations.