Early figures suggest that last year there were 6,500 applications for asylum in the UK from Somali nationals.
A figure that is slightly lower than that for 2000. During 2001 over 4,500 Somalis were either granted leave to stay in the UK or were recognised as refugees.
Somalia has been without a central government since 1991. Warlords, supported by heavily armed militias, rule various parts of the country. The resulting fighting combined with famine and disease has led to the death of up to one million people during the past 10 years.
Throughout 2000 there were periodic outbreaks of fighting between clan or faction militias in the south of the country. There have been cases of kidnapping, detention and torture.
The minorities who have suffered most from militia attacks include urban coastal peoples (Benadiri or Rer Hamar), Bantu agriculturalists frequently subjected to forced labour, artisan groups (Midgan, Tumal, Yibir) and fishing people (Bajuni).
According to an UNHCR report average life expectancy in the country is 41-43 years and the mortality rate for children under five is 25%. More than a million Somalis are scattered across the world in Europe, North America and the Middle East.