By Moulid Hujale
This Is An Inherited Property, Do Not Buy!” Such warning messages painted in bold on the walls of premises and residential buildings are very common in Somalia’s capital Mogadishu; cautioning potential buyers not to fall into a deception.
Over the past few years, Somalia has seen considerable stability and development attracting back huge influx from within and outside diaspora but for many Somalis whose land and properties are occupied, the fight for justice preoccupies their role in the country’s recovery.
Millions of Somalis were displaced when the civil war broke out leaving behind all their belongings only to fall into the hands of various groups, most of whom being devious people who permanently settled and some internally displaced whose occupation was temporary.
Following the recent sense of security, many people returned to the capital Mogadishu to claim their houses, but were caught in a life threating battle between them and those alleged settlers. Some died in the process and others almost gave up.
The issue of land-grapping and occupation is a widespread problem across the country. Mogadishu is the central of the whole issue and since it is the headquarter of the federal government; people expect it to lead by example.
However, the government is struggling with the national security and establishing social amenities therefore, solving land disputes is not in their priority.
The country’s judicial system has collapsed and there is no legal framework to settle such matters.
Unfortunately, some senior government officials are alleged to be among the notorious people who have forcefully occupied people’s households.
Ifrah Sh.Abdirahman, a mother of two is one of such victim. In a video she and her family posted on YouTube, they describe how they spent the last 2 years struggling with senior government officials who occupied and built new buildings in their old house in Mogadishu.
“We went back to claim our property when Hassan Sheikh’s government took office in 2012 hoping that we will get justice since his authority was no longer transitional but up to now we achieved nothing,” they said in the video.
“The Mogadishu administration is very confusing; at some point, the court ruled our house to be returned but the local police could not fulfill the ruling because of the power of those high profile figures involved,” they added.
On the other hand, the government itself was not spared. During the lawlessness period, thousands occupied government buildings.
To this day, government institutions did not manage to retake their headquarters. Some of those who occupied have either nowhere else to go or remained under the cover of powerful/influential people in the government.
The authorities then unfortunately turn their energy to the vulnerable people and those who had no power such as the internally displaced people (IDPs) who live in make shifts under the rubbles of old government buildings.
Hundreds of thousands of IDPs who dwell in Mogadishu face constant forceful eviction from the authorities that never provide them with alternative shelters.
Over two decades of lawlessness meant that from the large fertile plantations along the riverbanks in the south to the old historic neighborhoods of Hamarweyne district in the capital, land property and housing disputes are inevitable.
Not only those who fled but also those who resiliently remained in the country have suffered in one way or another.
The Banadir regional administration have recently initiated a very good exercise of supporting those victims and have successfully managed to return some houses to their owners. The governor and mayor of Mogadishu, Hassan Mohamed Hussein (Muungaab) called on everyone to seek official guidance to legally claim his/her property.
However, this is just the beginning of a huge and complex matter. The federal government should step up efforts of establishing legislations regarding land commission, reforms and legal framework to legitimately solve these disputes that is widening the rifts of the Somali citizens while at the same time facilitating national dialogues to discuss these issues to culturally supplement the rule of law.
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