This chapter examines the concept of displacement through a historical overview of the relationship between forced mobility and different phases and locations of violent conflict in Somalia. It outlines the historical and political context of the four cities under focus through the lens of personal experiences shared by research participants. The memories of research participants of the unfolding political fragmentation, and periods of instability in Somalia since the 1980s detail multiple reasons for flight and show how people were moving to – or back to, or between – the cities of Baidoa, Bosaso, Hargeisa and Mogadishu. Research participants describe experiences of forced mobility, how people found and negotiated places to settle in cities on arrival and their attempts to rebuild their lives in the urban environment. Although experiences of displacement and dynamics of urbanization across the four cities are diverse, the chapter shows how each city has been shaped by interrelated legacies of conflict and displacement. After a brief overview of political dynamics that have underpinned the construction, break-up and attempted reconstruction of the Somali state, the chapter focuses each of the four cities’ historical experiences of conflict-linked in-migration and the development of camp-like settlements in urban and peri-urban space.
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