The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) announced on May 1, 2012 that it will extend Somalia’s eligibility for temporary protected status (TPS) for eighteen months from its current expiration date. The government cited the ongoing “disruption of living conditions” in the east African nation due to severe drought conditions, armed conflict, and political instability. Somalia has had TPS status since September 16, 1991, and was redesignated in 2001. The extension allows individuals currently registered as TPS to re-apply, and it allows individuals who are from Somalia but present in the United States to obtain TPS for the first time.
Somalia is a country in east Africa with a population of approximately 10 million, according to the U.S. State Department, with land area making it slightly smaller than the state of Texas. Of its total population, about 2 million people live in the region of Somaliland in the north, which seeks international recognition as a separate, independent country. The country has endured decades of civil war, but its current troubles began over twenty years ago, when the national government collapsed in 1991. Various factions, supported by a variety of foreign governments and organizations, have fought for control of the country ever since. A severe drought began in the spring of 2011, leading to widespread famine and a worsening refugee situation in neighboring countries. The United States has contributed millions of dollars in humanitarian aid. Armed conflict continues as well, according to the State Department, with neighboring Kenya and Ethiopia sending troops into the country in the past year.