Restrictions on humanitarian aid
Up to 3.7 million people were in need of humanitarian support during the year because of armed conflict, displacement, droughts and floods, yet humanitarian operations remained under-funded. Humanitarian operations were further impeded by fighting and insecurity, killings and abductions of humanitarian workers, and threatening statements and restrictions against aid agencies, although many roadblocks were dismantled in areas under the control of armed groups. At least 10 humanitarian workers were killed and a further seven kidnapped. Ten aid workers abducted in 2008 remained hostages. Fighting in May and June in Mogadishu forced aid staff to flee compounds and temporarily halt humanitarian operations.
- ThreeWorld Food Programme (WFP) workers were killed by gunmen during the year. On 6 January, Somali national Ibrahim Hussein Duale was shot dead while monitoring school feeding in a WFP-supported school in Yubsan village, six kilometres from Garbahare in the Gedo region. On 8 January, Somali national Mohamud Omar Moallim was shot dead while monitoring food distribution to displaced people in a camp north-west of Mogadishu. On 22 December, the WFP head of security guards in Beletweyne was shot dead in the town.
- Two Médecins Sans Frontières foreign medical workers were abducted on 19 April in Bakool region and released on 28 April. The organization suspended its operations in Bakool, which included one health centre serving some 250,000 people and four health posts, because of lack of security.
- On 17 May, following its capture of the city of Jowhar, al-Shabab raided the compound of UNICEF, the UN Children's Fund. It destroyed or looted humanitarian supplies, including vaccines and nutritional supplies for malnourished children, affecting over 100,000 child beneficiaries. The UNICEF compound was still occupied by al-Shabab at the end of the year.
- In June, the al-Shabab faction in Kismayo accused humanitarian organizations of being behind the conflict in Somalia. On 25 October, al-Shabab closed the office of a Somali aid agency, ASEP, which operates in Beled Hawo, along the Somali-Kenyan border in Gedo region, allegedly for spying for Western governments.
Threats against journalists and civil society
The space for freedom of expression and independent reporting on the situation in Somalia further narrowed. Intimidation of Somali journalists and civil society organizations by armed groups increased, including through the threat of killings, closure of radio stations and occupation of NGO offices. Nine journalists were killed during the year, including at least three in targeted killings. The dangers forced many Somali activists to flee the country. Insecurity and the risk of kidnappings hindered visits by foreign observers. Cases of harassment of journalists were also reported in Puntland.