How to Stay Safe if you are Stranded in Somalia

Somalia is on the Horn of Africa and is bordered by Ethiopia to the west, Kenya on its south-west, and Djibouti to the north-west. The country has the longest coastline in Africa, and due to this, it has many beaches.

This is a nation with a rich but turbulent history. Military coup, Civil war, warlordisms, border disputes, and terrorism are widespread here.

Traveling to Somalia is suicide as getting attacked is a guarantee. However, if you are stuck in Somalia, and you don’t want to build yourself a graveyard, here is our guide to staying safe while in Somalia.

Staying Safe in Somalia

While it appeared that the newly chosen government had tried to take authority over the terrorist groups, the latest terror attacks clearly indicate that this is definitely not the case. Traveling there will most likely end in you being killed or seriously injured.

So, the first suggestion is: Avoid Somalia at all costs.

However, if you are already in Somalia, or have an unavoidable visit planned, read ahead.

Be wary of regions where you see armed men or from where you hear explosions or gunfire. Somali rebels also launch mortar attacks on civilian government compounds and population centers. The former Transitional Somali government forces have earlier launched artillery attacks against insurgents positioned in city areas, which have resulted in civilian fatalities. Keep in mind that bullets could start raining down at any minute, mainly if there are any signs of violence nearby, and that you will have seconds to take cover or start running if you hear the telltale sound of an incoming shell.

Also, be wary of drastic crime. Although the Somali government has installed the police force, it is still growing, and crime/corruption rates are highest globally. Be aware that many criminals and warlords in Somalia will try to capture a foreigner and hold them for ransom.

Driving is on the right. While Somali drivers are recognized for bad driving, the reality is slightly sadder. Risks are taken, especially in Mogadishu, which would not usually be taken in other places, but the locals expect this to happen and reimburse accordingly.

While planning your trip, it is prudent to request that you be accompanied by hired Somali armed escorts or bring along bodyguards. Still, even so, you are incredibly high at risk of the issues above.

This is an Islamic country. As such, don’t point your camera randomly anywhere you want to. There are many terrific photo opportunities around every corner, but when clicking people, ask first. Don’t ever, ever try to click pictures of girls, even if you’re a girl yourself. This is considered a great offense and you can be lynched for merely clicking a photo of a women.

Respect the Muslim faith of Somali tribes: Women shouldn’t wear see-through outfits or tube tops.

Do not eat bacon in public during Ramadan’s holy month — you may be arrested for four years. The Al-Shabab Islamist militia can be seen in many inhabited areas. They do not take kindly to any violation of Sharia law, and as they are not affiliated with any government, they do not have to abide by any laws per se; they will feel free to punish any unusual behavior any way they please, often by amputations, floggings, or even executions.

Alcohol is banned in Somalia, and possessing alcohol can get you executed. Homosexuality in Somalia is punishable by death. Sharing a hotel room to cut costs is normal, but don’t even think about asking for a single bed for two.

Due to its extreme weather and fantastic scenery, Somalia is overflowing with wildlife. Animals ranging from lions to meerkats inhabit much of Somalia.

Suppose you are foolish enough to go out to Mogadishu’s outer parts or other parts of rural Somalia. In that case, you will either be shot by militia operating in rural Somalia or be devoured by cheetahs, lions, leopards, or eaten alive by spotted hyenas. Be particularly wary when out at night; this is when many carnivores come out to hunt. Always a gun whenever you are in rural places.

Was it worth reading? Let us know.