News / Africa

Civilians Bearing Brunt of Somali Conflict

Multimedia

Audio
Joe DeCapua

Amnesty International says the human rights situation in Somalia continues to deteriorate, with more and more civilians falling victim to the conflict.

“Amnesty’s main concern is obviously the dire human rights situation and the lack or protection for civilians in Somalia,” says Benedicte Goderiaux, Amnesty’s Somalia researcher.

Tuesday’s attack on the Muna Hotel was a direct attack on civilians, she says, and should be classified as a war crime.  More than 30 people died in the suicide bombing and attack.

“And then you have all the people who are killed and injured in the fighting between both sides to the conflict, who use indiscriminate weapons, such as mortars, in densely populated areas.  And these are obviously indiscriminate attacks, which are also forbidden by the Geneva Convention,” said Goderiaux.

All sides to blame

Transitional Federal Government (TFG) forces, AU (African Union) troops, al Shabab and other militias have all been blamed for civilian casualties.

“It is very difficult, of course, to get armed groups like al Shabab and Hisbul Islam to agree and to recognize the importance of respecting international law,” she says.

But as for TFG and AU forces, she says, “who are accused of using some of the methods that the arms groups are using, then I think the international community, which gives them support… there is a case… to put a lot more pressure so that, one, they respect international law and [two], when there are credible accusations, that a mechanism is put in place to make those who are accused of doing such things…accountable.”

Hold your fire

Asked how government and AU forces should respond if shelled by militias hiding in residential neighborhoods, Goderiaux says they should use restraint.

“When you have one party to the conflict which is committing abuses and violations of international law, that doesn’t justify the other side from also committing violations of international law,” she says.

She says AMISOM, the AU mission in Somalia, should respect international law at all times and assess the likely consequences of its counter attacks.

“If they are in a situation where they are being attacked by al Shabab and they see that in their response they are going to shell on civilian neighborhoods, then they shouldn’t shell,” she says.

Al-Shabab recently declared an all-out war against AMISOM forces.

Earlier this year, the force commander, Maj. Gen. Nathan Mugisha, said the terrorism triggered by the alliance between al Shabab and al Qaida was like “a virus.”

“Unless dealt with decisively, with all possible resources,” he added, “it spreads quickly. That is why it is vitally important to defeat the extremists who hide behind the perverted banner of religion and offer nothing but repression, violence and bloodshed to the people of Somalia and the entire region. Extremism has nothing to do with Islam and everything to do with indiscriminate murder and carnage.”

You May Like

Could Nemtsov Threaten Putin in Death as in Life?

Dynamic and debonair opposition leader had supported liberal economic reforms, criticized Russian president's aggression in Ukraine More

Oil Smuggling Highlights Challenges in Shutting Down IS Finances

Pentagon spokesman says Islamic State 'certainly continues to get revenue from the oil industry black market' but that airstrikes have made a dent More

India Focuses on Infrastructure, Investment to Propel Economy

Government expects economy to grow at 8 to 8.5 percent in next fiscal year More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
US Supreme Court Hears Hijab Discrimination Casei
X
Katherine Gypson
February 25, 2015 11:30 PM
The U.S. Supreme Court has heard opening arguments in a workplace religious discrimination case that examines whether a clothing store can refuse to hire a young woman for wearing the headscarf she says is a symbol of her Muslim faith. Katherine Gypson reports from the Supreme Court.
Video

Video US Supreme Court Hears Hijab Discrimination Case

The U.S. Supreme Court has heard opening arguments in a workplace religious discrimination case that examines whether a clothing store can refuse to hire a young woman for wearing the headscarf she says is a symbol of her Muslim faith. Katherine Gypson reports from the Supreme Court.
Video

Video Falling Gas Prices Hurt Nascent Illinois Hydraulic Fracturing Industry

Falling oil prices are helping consumers purchase cheaper petroleum at the pump. But that’s made hydraulic fracturing or “fracking” less economically viable for the companies in the United States invested in the process. VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports on one Midwestern town that was hoping to change its fortunes by cashing in on the next big U.S. oil boom.
Video

Video Fighting in Sudan's South Kordofan Fuels Mass Displacement

Heavy fighting in Sudan's South Kordofan state is causing hundreds of thousands to flee into uncertain conditions. Local aid organizations estimate as many as 400,000 civilians have been internally displaced since the conflict began more than three years ago, while another 250,000 have fled across the border to refugee camps in South Sudan. VOA's Adam Bailes reports.
Video

Video Lao Dam Project Runs Into Opposition

A Lao dam project on a section of the Mekong River is drawing opposition from local fishermen, international environmental groups and neighboring countries. VOA's Say Mony visited the region to investigate the concerns. Colin Lovett narrates.
Video

Video A Filmmaker Discovers Her Biracial Identity in "Little White Lie

Lacey Schwartz grew up in an upper middle-class Jewish family, in a town in upstate New York where almost everyone she knew was white. She assumed that she was, as well. Her recent documentary, Little White Lie, tells the story of how she uncovered the secret of her true racial background. VOA’s Carolyn Weaver has more on the film.
Video

Video Deep Under Antarctic Ice Sheet, Life!

With the end of summer in the Southern hemisphere, the Antarctic research season is over. Scientists from Northern Illinois University are back in their laboratory after a 3-month expedition on the Ross Ice Shelf, the world’s largest floating ice sheet. As VOA’s Rosanne Skirble reports, they hope to find clues to explain the dynamics of the rapidly melting ice and its impact on sea level rise.
Video

Video US-Cuba Normalization Talks Resume Friday

Negotiations aimed at normalizing diplomatic relations between the U.S. and Cuba resume Friday. On the table: lifting a half-century trade embargo and easing banking and travel restrictions. There's opposition in Congress, but some analysts say there may be sufficient political and economic incentives in both nations for a potential breakthrough this year. VOA's Mil Arcega reports.
Video

Video Pakistan's Deadline For SIM Registration Has Cellphone Users Scrambling

Pakistani cell phone users have until midnight Thursday to register their SIM cards, or their service will be cut off. While some privacy experts worry about government intrusion, many Pakistanis are just worried about keeping their phone lines open. VOA Deewa reporter Arshad Muhmand has more from Peshawar.
Video

Video Myanmar Warns Factory Workers to End Strikes

Outside Myanmar's main city Yangon, thousands of workers walked off their jobs earlier this month demanding a doubling of their wages, pay raises after a year and input from labor unions on industrial regulations. Since Friday, the standoff has grown more tense as police moved in to disrupt the sit-ins, resulting in clashes that injured people from both sides. VOA correspondent Steve Herman visited industrial zones which have become a focus of Myanmar's fledgling workers rights movement.
Video

Video Oscar Winners Do More Than Thank the Academy

The Academy Awards presentation is Hollywood’s night to reward the best movies from the previous year. It’s typically a lot of glitter, a lot of thank you’s, a lot of speeches. But many of this year’s speeches carried messages beyond the thank you's. VOA’s Carolyn Presutti takes a look.

All About America

Circumventing Censorship

An Internet Primer for Healthy Web Habits

As surveillance and censoring technologies advance, so, too, do new tools for your computer or mobile device that help protect your privacy and break through Internet censorship.
More