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.
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.
African Express Airways has services between Mogadishu and Abu Dhabi, Aden, Berbera, Bosaso, Dubai, Galkayo, Nairobi-Jomo Kenyatta, Riyan Mukalla, Sharjah, & Wajir.
Daallo Airlines has services to Djibouti stopping en route at Hargeisa.
East African also operates a weekly service from Nairobi on Sundays, the return flight stops in Wajir for security processing before continuing on to Nairobi.
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.
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.
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 still, hire an armoured vehicle with driver and guards.
- 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.
- Arch of Triumph (Arco di Trionfo Popolare). Triumph Arc built by the Italians in 1936.
- Ruins of Mogadishu Cathedral. Built during the colonial years of Italian Somaliland, the Cathedral has barely survived the decades of civil war. It was badly damaged during fighting in the 1990s, then severely bombed by Islamists in 2008. Some stone walls and arches remain as testament to the old building. The new Somali Government has mentioned the possibility of rebuilding the Cathedral as a sign of religious harmony.
- Mogadishu Lighthouse. Italian colonial lighthouse that has been in ruins since the war, yet still retains its charm.
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.
- The Village, ☎ , e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org. Has several outlets, including at the airport. Main restaurant is centrally located next to the bus terminal.
- Abdille Nuradin's Bar (Infront of the STN Tele Comp). Opening Time 8AM/6PM. 1000 shln per drink.
- Hotel Nasa-Hablod, Km 4 square (2 Km from International Airport), ☎ , fax: +25262215943, e-mail: email@example.com. Restaurant, meeting rooms, safe box, TV, internet access, air-con.
- Hotel Shamo, Address. Large rooms, with air conditionned, wi-fi and electricity 24 hours 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 are 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 dead in front of the hotel in 2005, and two French citizens were abducted by gunmen in 2009.
While significant improvements have recently been made, 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 armoured car. Smash & grab break-ins are possible in non-armoured 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.