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

Video On the Scene: In Gaza, Darkness Brings Dread and Death

Palestinians fear nighttime raids, many feel abandoned by outside world, VOA's Scott Bobb reports More

African Small Farmers Could Be Key to Ending Food Insecurity

Experts say providing access to microloans, crop insurance, better storage facilities, irrigation, road systems and market information could enable greater production More

University of Michigan Wins Solar Car Race

Squad guided its student-designed solar-powered vehicle to fifth consecutive time victory in eight-day bi-annual American Solar Challenge 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.
Vietnamese Staging Chinese Product Boycott After Oil Rig Spati
X
Reasey Poch
July 28, 2014 7:18 PM
China recently pulled an oil rig from an area of the disputed South China Sea that Vietnam also claims. Despite the action, the incident has had a lingering effect on consumers in Vietnam. VOA's Reasey Poch reports from Hanoi on an effort to boycott Chinese products.
Video

Video Vietnamese Staging Chinese Product Boycott After Oil Rig Spat

China recently pulled an oil rig from an area of the disputed South China Sea that Vietnam also claims. Despite the action, the incident has had a lingering effect on consumers in Vietnam. VOA's Reasey Poch reports from Hanoi on an effort to boycott Chinese products.
Video

Video ESA Spacecraft to Land on a Comet

After a long flight through deep space, a European Space Agency probe is finally approaching its target -- a comet millions of kilometers away from earth. Scientists say the mission may lead to some startling discoveries about the origins of the water on earth. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Young Africans Arrive in US for Leadership Program

President Barack Obama's Young African Leadership Initiative has brought hundreds of young Africans to the United States for a six-week program aimed at building their knowledge and skills in fields such as public administration and business. Out of the 50,000 young Africans who applied for the program, just one percent was accepted. VOA's Laurel Bowman caught up with some of those who made the cut and has this report.
Video

Video In Honduras, Amnesty Rumors Fuel US Migration Surges

False rumors in Central America are fueling the current surge of undocumented young people being apprehended at the U.S. border. The inaccurate claims suggest the U.S. will give amnesty to young migrants from the region. As VOA's Brian Padden reports from Honduras, these rumors trace back to President Obama's 2012 executive order to halt deportations for some young undocumented immigrants already living in the United States.
Video

Video Students in Business for Themselves

They're only high school students, but they are making accessories for shoes, fabricating backpacks and doing product photography - all through their own businesses. It's the result of a partnership between a non-profit organization that teaches entrepreneurship and their schools. VOA's Mike O'Sullivan and Deyane Moses met the budding entrepreneurs near Los Angeles.
Video

Video Astronauts Train in Underwater Lab

In the world’s only underwater laboratory, four U.S. astronauts train for a planned visit to an asteroid. The lab - called Aquarius- is located five kilometers off Key Largo, in southern Florida. Living in close quarters and making excursions only into the surrounding ocean, they try to simulate the daily routine of a crew that will someday travel to collect samples of a rock orbiting far away from earth. VOA’s George Putic has more.

AppleAndroid