News / Africa

Civilians Bearing Brunt of Somali Conflict


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

US, China Have Dueling Definitions of Cybersecurity

Analysts say attribution or or proving that a particular individual or government is responsible for a hack, is a daunting task More

Snowden: I'd Go to Prison to Return to US

Former NSA contractor says he has not received a formal plea-deal offer from US officials, who consider him to be a traitor More

Goodbye Pocahontas: Photos Reveal Today's Real Native Americans

Weary of stereotypes, photographer Matika Wilbur is determined to reshape the public's perception of her people More

This forum has been closed.
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.
Russia’s Syria Involvement Raising Concerns in Europei
Luis Ramirez
October 02, 2015 4:45 PM
European nations are joining the United States in demanding that Russia stop targeting opposition groups other than the Islamic State militants as Russian warplanes continue to conduct raids in Syria. The demand came in a statement from Britain, France, Germany, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Turkey and the United States Friday. VOA Europe correspondent Luis Ramirez reports.

Video Russia’s Syria Involvement Raising Concerns in Europe

European nations are joining the United States in demanding that Russia stop targeting opposition groups other than the Islamic State militants as Russian warplanes continue to conduct raids in Syria. The demand came in a statement from Britain, France, Germany, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Turkey and the United States Friday. VOA Europe correspondent Luis Ramirez reports.

Video First Self-Driving Truck Debuts on European Highways

The first automated semi-trailer truck started its maiden voyage Friday, Oct. 2, on a European highway. The Daimler truck called 'Actros' is the first potentially mass-produced truck whose driver will be required only to monitor the situation, similar to the role of an airline captain while the plane is in autopilot mode. VOA’s George Putic reports.

Video Nano-tech Filter Cleans Dirty Water

Access to clean water is a problem for hundreds of millions of people around the world. Now, a scientist and chemical engineer in Tanzania (in East Africa) is working to change that by creating an innovative water filter that makes dirty water safe. VOA’s Deborah Block has the story.

Video Demand Rising for Organic Produce in Cambodia

In Cambodia, where rice has long been the main cash crop, farmers are being encouraged to turn to vegetables to satisfy the growing demand for locally produced organic farm products. Daniel de Carteret has more from Phnom Penh.

Video Migrant Influx Costs Europe, But Economy Could Benefit

The influx of hundreds of thousands of refugees and migrants is testing Europe’s ability to respond – especially in the poorer Balkan states. But some analysts argue that Europe will benefit by welcoming the huge numbers of young people – many of them well educated and willing to work. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.

Video Botanists Grow Furniture, with Pruning Shears

For something a bit out of the ordinary to furnish your home, why not consider wooden chairs, crafted by nature, with a little help from some British botanists with an eye for design. VOA’s Jessica Berman reports.

Video New Fabric Helps Fight Dust-Related Allergies

Many people around the world suffer from dust-related allergies, caused mainly by tiny mites that live in bed linen. Polish scientists report they have successfully tested a fabric that is impenetrable to the microscopic creatures. VOA’s George Putic has more.

Video Burkina Faso's Economy Deeply Affected by Political Turmoil

Political turmoil in Burkina Faso over the past year has taken a toll on the economy. The transitional government is reporting nearly $70 million in losses in the ten days that followed a short-lived coup by members of the presidential guard earlier this month. The crisis shut businesses and workers went on strike. With elections on the horizon, Emilie Iob reports on what a return to political stability can do for the country's economic recovery.

Video Fleeing Violence, Some Syrians Find Refuge in Irbil

As Syrians continue to flee their country’s unrest to seek new lives in safer places, VOA Persian Service reporter Shepol Abbassi visited Irbil, where a number Syrians have taken refuge. During the religious holidy of Eid al-Adha, the city largely shut down, as temperatures soared. Amy Katz narrates his report.

Video Nigeria’s Wecyclers Work for Reusable Future in Lagos

The streets and lagoons of Africa's largest city - Lagos, Nigeria - are often clogged with trash, almost none of which gets recycled. One company is trying to change that. Chris Stein reports for VOA from Lagos.

Video Sketch Artist Helps Catch Criminals, Gives a Face to Deceased

Police often face the problem of trying to find a crime suspect based on general descriptions that could fit hundreds of people in the vicinity of the crime. In these cases, an artist can use information from witnesses to sketch a likeness that police can show the public via newspapers and television. But, as VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Houston, such sketches can also help bring back faces of the dead.

Video Thailand Set to Build China-like Internet Firewall

Thai authorities are planning to tighten control over the Internet, creating a single international access point so they can better monitor content. VOA Correspondent Steve Herman reports from Bangkok on what is being called Thailand’s own "Great Firewall."

Video Croatian Town’s War History Evokes Empathy for Migrants

As thousands of Afghanistan, Iraqi and Syrian migrants pass through Croatia, locals are reminded of their own experiences with war and refugees in the 1990s. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports from the town of Vukovar, where wartime scars still are visible today.

Video Long Drought Affecting California’s Sequoias

California is suffering under a historic four-year drought and scientists say even the state's famed sequoia trees are feeling the pain. The National Park Service has started detailed research to see how it can help the oldest living things on earth survive. VOA’s George Putic reports.

VOA Blogs