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Street Children

Human Trafficking & Modern-day Slavery

Poverty drives the unsuspecting poor into the hands of traffickers

Published reports & articles from 2000 to 2025                         


Despite the lack of effective national governance, Somalia has maintained a healthy informal economy, largely based on livestock, remittance/money transfer companies, and telecommunications. Agriculture is the most important sector, with livestock normally accounting for about 40% of GDP and about 65% of export earnings. Nomads and semi-pastoralists, who are dependent upon livestock for their livelihood, make up a large portion of the population. Livestock, hides, fish, charcoal, and bananas are Somalia's principal exports, while sugar, sorghum, corn, qat, and machined goods are the principal imports.  [The World Factbook, U.S.C.I.A. 2009]

Description: Description: Somalia

Scope and Magnitude. Information regarding trafficking in Somalia remains extremely difficult to obtain or verify; however, the Somali territory is believed to be a source, transit, and perhaps destination country for trafficked men, women, and children. In Somali society, certain groups are traditionally viewed as inferior and are marginalized; Somali Bantus and Midgaan are sometimes kept in servitude to other more powerful Somali clan members as domestics, farm laborers, and herders. During the year, the widespread use of children in fighting forces in the country was noted;  - U.S. State Dept Trafficking in Persons Report, June, 2009   Check out a later country report here and possibly a full TIP Report here



CAUTION:  The following links have been culled from the web to illuminate the situation in Somalia.  Some of these links may lead to websites that present allegations that are unsubstantiated or even false.  No attempt has been made to validate their authenticity or to verify their content.



If you are looking for material to use in a term-paper, you are advised to scan the postings on this page and others to see which aspects of Human Trafficking are of particular interest to you.  Would you like to write about Forced-Labor?  Debt Bondage? Prostitution? Forced Begging? Child Soldiers? Sale of Organs? etc.  On the other hand, you might choose to include precursors of trafficking such as poverty and hunger. There is a lot to the subject of Trafficking.  Scan other countries as well.  Draw comparisons between activity in adjacent countries and/or regions.  Meanwhile, check out some of the Term-Paper resources that are available on-line.


Check out some of the Resources for Teachers attached to this website.


Human Trafficking: Greed and the Trail of Death

The Independent, 5/25/2006

[accessed 23 December 2010]

[accessed 15 January 2020]

The human trafficking trade out of Somalia is now one of the busiest, most lucrative and the most lethal in the world. The ferocious violence and anarchy in the region has kept the scale of profits and misery the most hidden from outside eyes.

Dozens corpses are found floating in the Arabian Sea every month, often with gunshot wounds, often with hands tied behind their back - victims of traffickers who have jettisoned their cargo in the most final way.


*** ARCHIVES ***

Outrage as Somali parliament drafts law permitting child, forced marriages

Nita Bhalla & Mohammed Omer, Thomson Reuters Foundation, Nairobi/Garowe, 11 Aguust 2020

[accessed 12 August 2020]

[Progress Needed]

Somalia’s parliament has sparked outrage by replacing long-awaited legislation to protect women and girls from violence with a new bill permitting child and forced marriage.

The east African nation has high rates of child marriage and violence against women, including rape and female genital mutilation (FGM). The United Nations says 45% of women are married before 18, while 98% have undergone FGM.

“This amended bill is harmful in nature to all Somalis but especially to women, girls and children as it does not protect from child marriage, forced marriage, rape and other forms of sexual abuse.”

2020 Country Reports on Human Rights Practices: Somalia

U.S. Dept of State Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor, 30 March 2021

[accessed 24 June 2021]


Forced labor occurred. Al-Shabaab continued forcibly to recruit children as young as eight years old for combat. Children and minority clan members were reportedly used as porters to transport the mild narcotic khat (or miraa), in farming and animal herding, crushing stones, and construction. Al-Shabaab forced persons in their camps to move to the countryside, reportedly to raise cash crops for the organization.


Child labor was widespread, and the recruitment and use of child soldiers remained a problem (see section 1.g.). A majority of children did not attend school, rendering them vulnerable to child labor. Youth commonly worked in herding, agriculture, household labor, and street work from an early age. Children broke rocks into gravel and worked as vendors and transporters of cigarettes and khat on the streets.

Freedom House Country Report

2020 Edition

[accessed 7 July 2020]


Child labor and trafficking in persons for the purposes of sexual exploitation or forced labor are common. Refugees and displaced persons are particularly vulnerable. Children are abducted or recruited to serve as fighters by the Shabaab and to a lesser extent by government and militia forces.

2017 Findings on the Worst Forms of Child Labor

Office of Child Labor, Forced Labor, and Human Trafficking, Bureau of International Labor Affairs, US Dept of Labor, 2018

[accessed 22 April 2019]

[accessed 5 May 2020]

Note:: Also check out this country’s report in the more recent edition DOL Worst Forms of Child Labor

[page 897]

As of September 2017, there were an estimated 2 million internally displaced persons in Somalia. (10) Internally displaced persons, including children, are vulnerable to human trafficking for sexual and labor exploitation. Trucks transporting goods to Somalia return to Kenya with girls who are trafficked for commercial sexual exploitation in brothels in Kenya and destinations outside of Kenya. (1) Some Somali children seeking refuge in Kenya to avoid recruitment by the terrorist organization al-Shabaab are subsequently trafficked for labor and commercial sexual exploitation. Research also found that children in Somalia are trafficked to Saudi Arabia and forced to beg on the streets. (1)

In 2017, the terrorist group al-Shabaab increased its campaign of forcibly recruiting children as young as age 8 for use in armed conflict. (1; 11) These children planted explosive devices, acted as human shields, conducted assassinations and suicide attacks, gathered intelligence, and provided domestic service; some girls were also forced into sexual servitude. (1) Research found that the Ahlu Sunnah Wal Jama’a militia, which to date has not yet integrated into the Somali National Army (SNA), recruited children. Somalia’s numerous clan militias also used child soldiers. (1) During the reporting period, the SNA recruited children for use in armed conflict, even though General Order No. 1 prohibits military personnel from recruiting and employing child soldiers. (12; 1).

Somalia: Journalist Arrested in Bossasso

National Union of Somali Journalists (Mogadishu), 8 January 2008

[accessed 11 September 2014]

The National Union of Somali Journalists (NUSOJ) is strongly condemning the arrest of Journalist Idle Moallim in Bossasso on 5 January 2008 by the police force of Puntland Regional State.

Idle Moallim, a freelance journalist, was arrested when the Puntland asked him several times where he came from and what reports he prepared about Human Trafficking of people travelling from Bossasso to the Gulf by boat.   The authorities detain him in the central detention centre in Bossasso.

Human smuggling and human trafficking in Somalia: Fact sheet - Nov 2007

UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, Report

[accessed 30 April 2019]

The main reason of these deaths is smugglers forcing Somalis and Ethiopians into stormy seas off the coast of Yemen. Survivors reported that those who resisted were stabbed and beaten with wooden and steel clubs, then thrown overboard. Some were then attacked by sharks. Recovered bodies showed signs of severe mutilation. Upon arrival to the Yemeni shore, some passengers reportedly had their money confiscated by security forces.

Such casualty rates are not uncommon. Passengers also frequently report that some travellers are being tied up and/or thrown overboard by the smugglers in an attempt to lighten their load and avoid capsizing. Others drift for days at a time with little food or fresh water on board. Both during the journey and en route to Bossaso, women report having been sexually abused, exploited and/or raped by the smugglers, police and the multitude of militias operating illegal checkpoints on the roads to Bossaso. When the boats reach Yemen's coast, passengers - including children - are routinely forced to swim the last kilometres so that the boats are not detected by the Yemen authorities. Some never make it to the coast. Fatality figures are difficult to verify as the trade is secret and many bodies are never found.

SUMMARY - Extreme underdevelopment

UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, Somalia 2004 Appeal

[accessed 23 December 2010]

Somalis still face extreme poverty and underdevelopment. They consistently rank among the lowest in the world on key indicators of human development, life expectancy, per capita income, malnutrition and infant mortality.

Somalis also suffer widespread human rights violations, including: murder, rape, looting and destruction of property, child soldiering, kidnapping, discrimination against minorities, torture, female genital mutilation, unlawful arrest and detention, and denial of due process.

Human Rights Overview

Human Rights Watch

[accessed 23 December 2010]


Human Rights Reports » 2005 Country Reports on Human Rights Practices

U.S. Dept of State Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor, March 8, 2006

[accessed 11 February 2020]

TRAFFICKING IN PERSONS – The pre-1991 law prohibits trafficking; however, there were reports of trafficking during the year. The unimplemented TFC does not specifically prohibit trafficking. Puntland was noted by human rights organizations as an entry point for trafficking. The UNIE reported that trafficking in persons remained rampant in Somalia and that the lack of an authority to police the country's long coastline contributed to trafficking. Various forms of trafficking are prohibited under the most widespread interpretations of Shari'a and customary law, but there was no unified policing in the territory to interdict these practices, nor any authoritative legal system within which traffickers could be prosecuted.

The Department of Labor’s 2004 Findings on the Worst Forms of Child Labor

U.S. Dept of Labor Bureau of International Labor Affairs, 2005

[accessed 23 December 2010]

Note:: Also check out this country’s report in the more recent edition DOL Worst Forms of Child Labor

INCIDENCE AND NATURE OF CHILD LABOR - Children are also conscripted by armed Somali militias and used for forced labor or sexual exploitation.  Boys as young as 14 or 15 have participated in combat and many belong to gangs who raid indiscriminately.  Trafficking networks exist that transport children to South Africa and promote their commercial sexual exploitation.

All material used herein reproduced under the fair use exception of 17 USC § 107 for noncommercial, nonprofit, and educational use.  PLEASE RESPECT COPYRIGHTS OF COMPONENT ARTICLES.  Cite this webpage as: Patt, Prof. Martin, "Human Trafficking & Modern-day Slavery - Somalia",, [accessed <date>]