How To Understand Security And Insecurity?

Somali refugee, Iftin Ahmed Farah, 24, from Mogadishu, pictured in the neighbourhood of Eastleigh, in Nairobi, Kenya.

I left because of the civil war and the problems in Somalia. Though there was civil war life was not that bad at the beginning. I never saw a government but growing up it somehow was good, I used to go to a private school. The problem with Somalis is when they see foreigners come into the country it creates fierce fighting. During the Islamic courts it was peaceful, but then Ethiopian troops came in and there was fighting. What forced me to leave was the fighting was just too much and ladies were being raped. The civilians were against the Ethiopians and with all the protests and everything the Ethiopians would just shoot at the civilians. They did a lot of things, sometimes they would tie someone at the back of a car and pull the person, sometimes they would throw them into wells. Because I feared especially the rape I left in 2006 and came to Kenya, but because of problems there was no way I could survive in Kenya so I went back in 2007 to Somalia. 

After a while in Mogadishu terrible fighting started which was worse than before: it was the war between Al-Shabaab and the Ethiopians. Al-Shabaab were forcing young boys to join them and the ladies were forced into marriage. The civilians supported them at the beginning but because of the terrible things they did the people stopped supporting them; they became very bad people. There were a lot of problems so I left with some friends. We took a bus but the journey was difficult, we had to hid from one place to another because Al-Shabab didn't allow people to leave the country. Also we were hiding on the way to Nairobi because we didn't have proper documents. 

When I came here I lived with a Somali lady whose children had left Kenya. I stayed with this lady until I met the father of my daughter. When I was 4 months pregnant the father disappeared, probably because he had no money. Until now I don't kn

Security and insecurity may mean different things to different people depending on context and perspective. Too often, however, security agencies and policy makers on various levels treat “security” from a purely physical perspective. Examples of this include securing a territory against external aggressions or placing focus solely upon protecting the state and its people from physical harm caused by insurgents, militants, and the like. With this understanding, security is connected more to the state than to its people. While physical security and the security of the state is important, there are at least three major problems associated with an exclusive focus on it:

  • An uncritical focus on strengthening state security has historically led to the support of repressive regimes or elites, and even genocide or massacre.
  • A narrow focus on physical security overlooks the broader range of insecurities experienced by people in their everyday lives, including economic, health-related, and environmental insecurity.
  • A physical security-based perspective promotes the development of police as a force trained in military tactics, rather than a service with a responsibility to protect the broader rights and interests of local populations.


For Community-Oriented Policing to be effective, we must expand our understanding of security and insecurity.  A Human Security perspective, which considers the interconnectedness of the many types of insecurities, is useful in this regard. See also this article.