What We Do

Tackling violent extremism from Somalia, the world's most devastating country in conflict

Partnering with the Somali government and the UN, we aim to operate both pillars of radicalization prevention and de-radicalization towards ex-violent extremists. From the frontline of conflict areas, we work to establish a framework that can also be adapted in other corners of the world.

Somalia is known for experiencing 21 years of anarchy due to the aggravation of a civil war that broke out in the 1980s. Though the nation has established a legitimate government, peace and stability is yet to be achieved.

One of the causes to this, is the expansion of Al-Shabaab - an Islamic extremist organization infamously known for the volume of deaths they create - conducting numerous terrorist activities, violence towards citizens, and exploiting aid supplies. Their success is often owed to the effective recruitment of youths. Youths living under violent conflicts, droughts, and famine do not have the necessary skills for jobs and ample education. Al-Shabaab takes advantage of their situation, inciting fear and anger, ultimately luring them into joining the organization. It is estimated that over 8,000 individuals belong to Al-Shabaab.

Our Activities in Somalia: The DRR Project

In Somalia, no signs of peacebuilding processes have been seen, much less the establishment of peace agreements or ceasefire agreements. Under such a circumstance, the social reintegration of the defectors and prisoners of violent extremist organizations (VEOs) is extremely difficult. Hence, further strategic action is necessary. Developing a framework called DRR (De-radicalize, Re-Insertion, Reintegration), we implement various programs in prisons and rehabilitation centers.

The DRR Project aims to build peace, counter violent extremism, and empower youth development through tackling issues of terrorist activities caused by violent extremist organizations. Operating mainly in the Mogadishu Central Prison, the project targets incarcerated extremist members (mostly youths, youngest at the age of eight). We also target women who have participated in violent extremist activities. As indicated in its name, the project will “De-radicalize” ex-VEO members, “Re-insert” them into their communities, and realize “Re-integration” through continuous support. Moreover, strategic outreach activities that promote further defection by active members from their affiliated VEOs have also been implemented in the DRR project. The activities held under the project are as follows:

Care Counseling; Vocational Training; Life Skills Training; Basic Education Session; Reconciliation Session; High Expectation Management Session; Interactive Religious Seminar; Long-term Follow-up.

As part of this project, we also assist the development of prison facilities and implement outreach activities to induce further defection of current Al-Shabaab members.

The Multi-functional Reception Center (MRC)

We have been aware that a large rehabilitation center (e.g., the Mogadishu Central Prison where the DRR Project has been in place) cannot be built across every region in Somalia, due to the lack of resources. As such, it has been difficult to create an accessible, safe route for would-be defectors from VEOs residing in areas where large rehabilitation centers are non-existent. Moreover, a large number of disengaged individuals in local communities who have not been taken in by the government-led programs (e.g., voluntary returnees, women, etc.) exist in local communities. Though such individuals equally need rehabilitation towards reintegration, such as vocational training and education, they have been left out and not paid much attention. To overcome such issues, the concept of a Multi-functional Reception Center (MRC) was developed.

The MRC is a small-scale facility that serves as a reception for defectors and a place to screen them. Moreover, Small-scale rehabilitation programs, consisting of basic education, religious studies, mental counseling, and vocational training, are offered in the MRC towards the above-mentioned individuals. The MRC is established in areas where large-scale rehabilitation centers are lacking, such as the frontlines of conflict. With our first MRC established in the Galmudug state, Central Somalia, in 2022, we plan to increase the number of these facilities throughout the country.

No matter how hard the situation would be, I will never take such a false route again.

- Shiad / A former-soldier of the violent extremist group, Al-Shabaab

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