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Earth : Africa : East Africa : Somalia : Southern Somalia : Mogadishu
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Travel Warning WARNING: Scene of urban warfare for two decades and after many months of intense urban warfare between the government/AU troops and Islamic extremist faction al Shabab (which once controlled the majority of the city), Mogadishu is now under the control of the internationally-recognized Transitional Government & AU peacekeepers. Since the ousting of al Shabab in August 2011, the city has seen an intense period of reconstruction funded by the Somali diaspora and the international community. In fact the city is now safe enough for flights by Turkish Airlines. However, Mogadishu still remains very dangerous due to high petty and violent crime rates. Although a fair amount of improvements have been made, there are still problems with basic services, like water, electricity, and law enforcement as well as a lack of facilities like hotels, restaurants, etc. The city is also remains in great danger of suicide bombings and other terrorist attacks carried out by extremists who manage to get past the security checkpoints around the city. Walking the streets of Mogadishu remains very dangerous, even with armed guards. Tourists are emphatically discouraged from visiting Mogadishu for the time being, while business travelers should take extreme caution and make thorough plans for your trip!!! Travel outside Mogadishu remains extremely dangerous and should not be done for ANY reason! Those working for aid agencies should consult the security plans/advise of your organization. (Updated July 2012)
Mogadishu in 2006

Mogadishu (Somali: Muqdisho; Arabic: مقديشو‎ Maqadīshū) is the official capital of Somalia, a major battleground of the civil war which has ravaged the country since 1991.


A devastating civil war has ruined this once beautiful city for almost twenty years now, leaving little but ruins left. Since 1991, various Islamist and/or clan or warlord-affiliated militias have had control over different parts of the city. A few months of relief were given in 2006 when the Union of Islamic courts took full control. Somalia was however invaded by Ethiopia just six months later and re-instated the western-backed Transitional Federal Government. The hard-line Islamist group Al-Shabab gradually took control over Mogadishu until the government only controlled a few square blocks. A counter-offensive, supported by large amounts of African Union troops cleared the city of militants in August 2011. Bombings and shootings are still commonplace but open warfare have for now ceased. A major shortage of food and thousands of refugees puts enormous stress on the few governmental offices that are able to function.

The book Black Hawk Down by Mark Bowden gives a detailed and a very accurate description of the lawlessness in Mogadishu during the early years of civil war.

Get in

By air

Flights once again arrive at Aden Adde International Airport just a few kilometers southwest of city centre, facilities are very basic, but the Turkish government has put up funds to renovate the airport and its security, control tower, and navigational systems. A few passenger flights are operating.

Jubba Airways [3], the only Somali-based carrier, has services from Dubai, Jeddah, Nairobi, Djibouti, as well as domestically from Hargeisa and several other cities.

African Express Airways [4] has services between Mogadishu and Abu Dhabi, Aden, Berbera, Bosaso, Dubai, Galkayo, Nairobi-Jomo Kenyatta, Riyan Mukalla, Sharjah, & Wajir.

Daallo Airlines [5] has services to Djibouti stopping en route at Hargeisa.

East African [6] also operates a weekly service from Nairobi on Sundays, the return flight stops in Wajir for security processing before continuing on to Nairobi.

Turkish Airlines [7] now offers a twice-weekly service from Istanbul via Khartoum/Djibouti. Flights depart Atatürk Airport on Tuesdays and Thursdays. Roundtrip fares start at €430.

By road

It is possible to drive into the city by truck, but this is considered a risky activity, unless you employ a group of local militia which are readily available for hire. Roads link the city with many Somali locales and with Kenya and Ethiopia. Armed guards, hired security forces, and experienced guides are all mandatory for a safe entry, and even then the risk of your being injured, killed or captured is extremely high.

By boat

Small cargo ships regularly leave from the Old Harbour of Mombasa for Mogadishu and sometimes Kismayo. Speak with the security officers at the gate of this tiny port and they will negotiate a fare with the captain. The journey will take 2-5 days, depending on conditions. The sea is rough in July-August, requiring lengthier travel. Arriving by boat is risky, as there is the strong possibility of being attacked by pirates, though the port area is relatively secure.

Get around

Roads are a muddy mess during rain, traffic lights do not work, and there are no enforced traffic laws or public transport. The road network in Mogadishu is slowly being repaired and paved. A vehicle with driver and armed guards is a must! Break-ins at intersections are possible, so avoid openly displaying anything that could be considered valuable by a Somali. Better yet, hire an armored vehicle (with driver and guards).


Mogadishu mosque during the Eid festival
  • Arba-Rucun Mosque (Mosque of the four pillars). Owing to the city's Islamic heritage, one of few things the city's various warlords can agree on, this 1269 mosque has been luckier than the neighbouring cathedral, and is one of very few buildings in the historic center which is not a ruin. It's said to have been built by a direct descendant of the Prophet Mohammed.



The Mogadishu University is a non-governmental university that is governed by the Board of Trustees and the University Council. Admission requirements for the University as listed on their website include:

Original secondary school certificate plus one copy. Birth certificate. Certificate of good conduct. 12 photos (6 x 4) cm. Completed application form. Payment of the registration fee. Passing written and oral entrance examinations.

Benadir University was started in 2002 with the intention to train doctors but has expanded into other fields.


  • The Bakaara Market (Suuqa Bakaaraha) is an open market and the largest in Somalia. Created in late 1972 during the reign of Siad Barre, its original purpose was to allow proprietors to sell daily essentials. The civil war subsequently created demand for arms and ammunition. Everything from pistols to anti-aircraft weapons are being sold. Falsified documents are also readily available. Forged Somali, Ethiopian and Kenyan passports can be processed within minutes. This illicit sub-market is known as Cabdalle Shideeye after one of its first proprietors.

Most markets and especially the Bakaara Market are a focus of ongoing arms control efforts for the disarmament of Somalia. Marketplaces should be considered hazardous not only because of their content and the presence of some unsavory characters, but also because they have caught fire several times in the last few years.


International cuisine can be found at Nasa Hablod Restaurant inside Hotel Nasa Hablod and at the Sahafi Hotel. These are probably the safest options for travelers.


  • Abdille Nuradin's Bar, (Infront of the STN Tele Comp). Opening Time 8AM/6PM. 1000 shln per drink.


  • Hotel Nasa-Hablod (Local script), Km 4 square, Mogadishu (2 Km from International Airport), +25261858440 (, fax: +25262215943), [1]. Restaurant, meeting rooms, safe box, TV, internet access, a/c.
  • Hotel Shamo, Address. Large rooms, with air conditionned, wi-fi and electricity 24 h a day. The restaurant is extremely decent, and serve lobster when available at the fish market. The hotel is also relatively safe. From $100.
  • Sahafi Hotel, Address. One of the best hotels in Mogadishu. The Manager is very helpful, the staff is attentive, and the food is good. Although the compound is probably your safest bet (if there is such a thing) in Mogadishu, a BBC producer was shot in the back and killed in front of the hotel in 2005, and two French citizens abducted by gunmen in 2009.
  • Safari Hotel, Km 4 (5 min walk from Shamo Hotel), [2]. The hotel is situated at the heart of Mogadishu and it is easily accessible owing to its closeness to the road. In addition you get easy access to health provision from the Banadir hospital which is just nearby. The hotel's proximity to the Aden Ade International Airport which is just 15 minutes away makes it ideal especially if you are taking a flight that leaves early in the morning.

Stay safe

While significant improvements have been made in the relatively short time period from August 2011 to the summer of 2012, the city remains very dangerous for independent travel. Petty theft and violent crime remains a significant threat in a city which has effectively been in a state of war for nearly two decades and full of unemployed people with few possessions. Any white person and most other foreigners are thus regarded as wealthy and a target for crime. Do not wander the streets alone for any reason!!!! If you must venture around the city, you should be accompanied by hired guards and ride in, preferably, an armored car. Smash & grab break-ins are possible in un-armored vehicles. With the security situation improved, there are likely to be new hotels opening...make sure yours has armed guards 24/7 and do not trust your valuables to be left in your room.

Basic services, such as water & electricity, are not reliable and you should not drink the water. Food and bottled drinks sold in the city may or may not be safe to consume. Try to get the advice of another foreigner who has been in the city a while. Health services are limited.

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