Economic Development

Top Cop Promises to Amp Up Collaboration in Somalia to Combat Crime

On a mission to the Horn of Africa nation, Executive Director Waly underscored on Friday that “Somalia faces daunting challenges that range from terrorism to resurgent piracy, poverty and the consequences of climate change.”

A complicated crisis

Speaking to UN News in Mogadishu, Ms. Waly said interlinked threats included piracy, illegal fishing, different types of trafficking and smuggling together with terrorism, all underpinned by money laundering and corruption.

UNODC/Jeremy Douglas

Mogadishu coast, Somalia.

These threats also have an impact far beyond Somalia. Firearms trafficking across the Gulf of Aden supplies Al-Shabaab and other terrorist groups while migrant smugglers operating along Somalia’s northern coast transfer people towards the Arabian Peninsula. 

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At the same time, unregulated foreign fishing fleets are exploiting Somalia’s marine resources, threatening biodiversity and livelihoods in the Indian Ocean.

Drug trafficking could also be an expanding threat, Ms. Waly added, due to the difficulty of policing Somalia’s long coastline and the country’s connectivity in terms of air travel. 

Resilience and the rule of law

The 2013 attack on the Banadir Court Complex in Mogadishu by the militant group Al-Shabaab stands as a sombre example of these challenges. The 30 deaths, multiple casualties and damage to the facility struck “a heavy blow to the justice sector of Somalia”, Ms. Waly noted. 

Meanwhile, judges and prosecutors had fallen victim to terrorist attacks.

Improving the rule of law – important for any government – becomes even more crucial in a country confronting terrorism, organized crime and corruption, which is why Somalia and UNODC have been working together to establish the Mogadishu Prison Court Complex (MPCC).

Conceived, designed and delivered by UNODC, the establishment of the MPCC was a direct response to the attack on the Banadir Court Complex and stands as an example of the strong and enduring partnership between the UN and the Government of Somalia.

In Mogadishu to inaugurate the MPCC, Ms. Waly noted that the complex is now “a centre for the administration of justice”, with two courtrooms, three prison blocks with a capacity of 700 beds and accommodation for judges to reduce the need for road travel during a trial.

It provides a secure environment for the judiciary and a humane setting for prisoners, fostering rehabilitation and long-term security.”

It is the latest in a series of construction and renovation projects supported by UNODC to help bolster Somalia’s legal and correctional infrastructure. 

UN Photo/Mukhtar Nuur

Mogadishu prison and court complex.

Since 2010, UNODC had constructed new prisons, renovated existing detention facilities and erected Ministry of Justice buildings and other security sector facilities in Mogadishu, Bosasso, Garowe and Hargeisa.

Preventing piracy

Promoting the rule of law does not stop at Somalia’s land borders, however. Piracy off the coast of Somalia had been a threat with global consequences for years, Ms. Waly told UN News, until a recent decline.

But, geopolitical tensions in the Red Sea have escalated insecurity and affected shipping routes, with an estimated 50 per cent decrease in trade vessels passing through the Gulf of Aden due to Houthi rebel attacks from Yemen, which the rebel movement says are in solidarity with Gaza. 

Pirates, sensing the international community’s diverted attention, have increased operations with increased impunity along the Somali coast. 

UN Photo/Mukhtar Nuur

A Somali coast guard crew member at the launch of a patrol boat near Mogadishu.

Since November 2023, pirates have hijacked dhows (a traditional sailing boat used in the region) and used them to carry out command-and-control attacks against larger vessels.

“These challenges pose a direct risk to international peace and security, endanger the lives of seafarers and are disrupting trade routes that many countries rely on for economic stability, food security and sustainable development,” Ms. Waly warned. 

To increase maritime security in the Gulf of Aden and the Indian Ocean, UNODC is training law enforcement officers on how to detect, interdict and prosecute illicit trafficking and maritime crimes.

UNODC is also providing essential marine communications and maritime equipment to support law enforcement. In Mogadishu, for instance, Ms. Waly officially handed over a refurbished patrol vessel and communications equipment to the Somali Police Coast Guard.

UNODC/Jeremy Douglas

A coast guard patrol boat is launched near Mogadishu in Somalia.

Through these and other efforts, Ms. Waly said, UNODC is helping Somalia improve its operational capabilities and legal framework for prosecuting piracy while enhancing collaboration on maritime security in the region.

Ms. Waly reiterated UNODC’s commitment to continue and expand its work in Somalia.

“Today, we write another chapter in Somalia’s story of resilience and hope for a future where every Somali citizen can live in peace, security and dignity,” she said.



  1. Ms. Waly’s insights highlight the gravity of the situation in Somalia. It is evident that tackling the interlinked threats of piracy, illegal fishing, trafficking, and terrorism requires a comprehensive approach that addresses the underlying issues of money laundering and corruption. The international community must step up cooperation to ensure the security and stability of not only Somalia but also the broader region.

  2. How is the international community planning to support Somalia in dealing with the complex crisis it is facing, especially in terms of piracy and terrorism?

    1. In response to AmyJohnson’s query, the international community is committed to bolstering support for Somalia in combating the multifaceted crisis, particularly piracy and terrorism. Collaboration efforts are being intensified to address the interlinked threats of piracy, illegal fishing, trafficking, and terrorism, all exacerbated by money laundering and corruption. The focus is on enhancing maritime security, curbing firearms trafficking, and countering illicit activities that threaten not only Somalia but also have ripple effects in the region. The aim is to strengthen resilience and uphold the rule of law to mitigate the impact of these grave challenges.

  3. It is crucial that Somalia focuses on enhancing collaboration to tackle the complex threats it faces, from terrorism to piracy and climate change. Ms. Waly’s efforts to address piracy, illegal fishing, trafficking, and terrorism are commendable, aiming to combat these interlinked challenges that have far-reaching consequences beyond Somalia. We must prioritize resilience and the rule of law to effectively combat these threats and protect livelihoods in the region.

  4. How will increased collaboration effectively address the challenges of terrorism, piracy, and other interconnected threats in Somalia?

    1. In response to MeganJohnson’s query, heightened collaboration amongst international and local stakeholders is crucial in tackling the complex issues of terrorism, piracy, and other interlinked threats in Somalia. By working together effectively, sharing intelligence, and coordinating efforts, we can strengthen security measures, disrupt criminal networks, and address the root causes of these challenges. This concerted approach will help build resilience, enhance law enforcement capacities, and promote stability in the region.

  5. It’s crucial that Somalia tackles the interlinked threats of piracy, illegal fishing, and terrorism with a comprehensive approach. Ms. Waly’s emphasis on collaboration is key to addressing these challenges effectively and securing a safer future for the region.

  6. Ms. Waly’s insight into the complex crisis facing Somalia is crucial. It’s evident that collaboration and resilience are paramount in combating the various threats plaguing the nation. Her emphasis on addressing piracy, terrorism, and corruption highlights the urgent need for international support and cohesive efforts.

  7. Will increased collaboration really be effective in combating the multiple threats highlighted in the article? What specific measures does Executive Director Waly plan to implement to address the complex crisis in Somalia?

    1. Increased collaboration is indeed crucial in combating the diverse threats mentioned in the article. Executive Director Waly’s plan likely includes enhancing intelligence sharing, coordinating joint operations with local authorities, and implementing targeted counter-terrorism strategies. By fostering partnerships and implementing comprehensive measures, effective progress can be made towards addressing the complex crisis in Somalia.

  8. As an expert in law enforcement, it’s crucial that collaboration intensifies in Somalia to tackle the growing threats. Ms. Waly’s assessment sheds light on the interconnected issues plaguing the nation, highlighting the urgency for collective action to combat crime effectively.

  9. It’s crucial that we address the interconnected threats facing Somalia with a comprehensive approach. Collaborative efforts are vital to combat terrorism, piracy, illegal fishing, trafficking, and corruption. Ms. Waly’s initiative is a step in the right direction to enhance security and uphold the rule of law in the region.

  10. As a law enforcement professional, I believe that increased collaboration is crucial to address the complex crisis in Somalia. The threats of terrorism, piracy, illegal fishing, and trafficking require a multifaceted approach that tackles money laundering and corruption. Let’s work together to promote resilience and uphold the rule of law in Somalia.

  11. Ms. Waly eloquently highlights the complex and interconnected threats facing Somalia, from piracy and terrorism to illegal fishing and smuggling. It is crucial to tackle these issues collaboratively to ensure the safety and security of the region. I applaud the efforts to strengthen resilience and uphold the rule of law in the face of such challenges.

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