According to the latest Integrated Food Security Phase Classification (IPC), this new wave of displacement comes at a time when about 214,000 people in the Sool region are experiencing crisis or acute food insecurity due to severe drought, compounding the hardship experienced by those displaced by the conflict.

Somaliland authorities say that they are committed to providing basic necessities including food, water and medical equipment to the people of Las Anod in coordination with local and international humanitarian organizations. However, three humanitarian aid workers interviewed by Amnesty International said that humanitarian access to Las Anod is a major challenge due to the widespread violence and some restrictions from authorities.

Background on the Las Anod crisis

Somaliland is an area in northwestern Somalia. It declared its independence from Somalia in 1991. However, it has not been formally recognized by any country.

Las Anod is in the southeastern part of Somaliland and is the capital of the disputed region of Sool. The town is largely inhabited by the Dhulbahante, members of the larger Darod clan. Las Anod has been under the control and administration of Somaliland since 2007. Over the years, the Dhulbahante have expressed grievances against the Somaliland authorities including allegations of targeted assassinations and they have also accused Somaliland of marginalizing them and subjecting their region to what they call “economic embargo”.

On 26 December 2022, the assassination of a Dhulbahante local politician, Abdifatah Abdullahi Abdi, in Las Anod town by unknown armed men triggered widespread protests. Somaliland security forces responded by using excessive, including lethal force, killing and injuring dozens of protestors.

Following continued anger and widespread protests about the killings, Somaliland authorities withdrew their security forces from Las Anod. This paved the way for prominent Dhulbahante personalities including clan elders to enter the city. The elders held a consultative meeting from 28 January to 5 February. On the last day of the meeting, the delegates issued a declaration that they are not part of Somaliland’s administration.

Immediately after the declaration, clashes started between Somaliland security forces and armed fighters affiliated with the Dhulbahante clan on 6 February, escalating into a situation of armed conflict. Both sides blamed each other for starting the fighting.