Disengaging from violent extremism: The case of al-Shabaab in Somalia

Written by

Ingvild Magnæs Gjelsvik

Tidligere ansatt


Disengagement, rehabilitation and reintegration for members of violent extremist groups during ongoing conflict is a tricky matter. Disarmament, Demobilisation and Reintegration (DDR) programmes are normally implemented after a peace agreement is in place. However, this does not apply to south central Somalia, as well as other conflict-ridden areas around the world today. Providing adequate security for those wanting to leave violent extremist groups is arguably a key element for success for programmes operating in such contexts. This article looks at some of the security challenges the Defector Rehabilitation Programme (DRP) for al-Shabaab members has encountered in south central Somalia. The lessons learnt presented in this article were mainly gathered through discussions and presentations made at a training held in Nairobi in November 2017 by the African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM) for programme staff in the DRP. Interviews and conversations were also carried out with staff members and partners involved in different stages of the programme, and practitioners and stakeholders working to prevent or counter violent extremism in Somalia, during field trips to south central Somalia between 2013 and 2017