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

EU Court Fines Poland for Hosting CIA 'Black Sites'

Ruling is first time a court has acknowledged suspects were held and tortured at the sites, under US program launched following the 9/11 terrorist attacks More

Migrant Issues Close to Home Spur Groups to Take Action

Groups placing water, food in the desert, or aiding detainees after release, have one common goal: no more deaths of migrants crossing illegally into the US More

Video At AIDS Conference, Prevention Pill Stirs Excitement

Truveda shows promise, spurring debate over access and other approaches 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.
Israel Targets Gaza Supply Tunnelsi
X
July 24, 2014 4:42 AM
The Israeli military has launched a ground operation in Gaza to destroy the myriad tunnels that may have been used to smuggle weapons to Hamas. VOA's Zlatica Hoke reports that could mean more hardship for the people of Gaza, who obtain some of their essential supplies through these underground passages
Video

Video Israel Targets Gaza Supply Tunnels

The Israeli military has launched a ground operation in Gaza to destroy the myriad tunnels that may have been used to smuggle weapons to Hamas. VOA's Zlatica Hoke reports that could mean more hardship for the people of Gaza, who obtain some of their essential supplies through these underground passages
Video

Video MH17's 'Black Boxes' Could Reveal Crash Details

The government of Malaysia now has custody of the cockpit voice and flight data recorders from Malaysia Airlines Flight 17, which was hit by a missile over Ukraine before crashing last week. As VOA's Carolyn Presutti reports, the so-called black boxes may hold information about the final minutes of the flight.
Video

Video Living in the Shadows Panel Discussion

Following a screening of the new VOA documentary, "AIDS - Living in the Shadows," at the World AIDS conference in Melbourne, a panel discussed the film and how to combat the stigma associated with HIV/AIDS.
Video

Video IAEA: Iran Turns its Enriched Uranium Into Less Harmful Form

Iran has converted its stockpiles of enriched uranium into a less dangerous form that is more difficult to use for nuclear weapons, according to the United Nations’ Atomic Energy Agency. The move complies with an interim deal reached with Western powers on Iran's nuclear program last year, in exchange for easing of sanctions. Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London.
Video

Video Relic of Saint Draws Catholics Worried About Immigration Issue

A Roman Catholic saint who is a figure of devotion for those crossing the border into the United States is attracting believers concerned about the plight of undocumented immigrants. Mike O'Sullivan reports from Los Angeles, where a relic of Saint Toribio has drawn thousands to local churches.
Video

Video US Awards Medal of Honor for Heroics in Bloodiest of Afghan Battles

U.S. combat troops are withdrawing from Afghanistan, on pace to leave the country by the end of this year. But on Monday, U.S. President Barack Obama took time to honor a soldier whose actions while under fire in Afghanistan earned him the Medal of Honor. VOA's Jeff Seldin has more from the Pentagon.
Video

Video Ukraine Rebels Surrender MH17 Black Boxes

After days of negotiations, a senior separatist leader handed over two black boxes from an airliner downed over eastern Ukraine to Malaysian experts early Tuesday. While on Monday, the U.N. Security Council unanimously demanded that armed groups controlling the crash site allow safe and unrestricted access to the wreckage.
Video

Video In Cambodia, HIV Diagnosis Brings Deadly Shame

Although HIV/AIDS is now a treatable condition, a positive diagnosis is still a life altering experience. In Cambodia, people living with HIV are often disowned by friends, family and the community. This humiliation can be unbearable. We bring you one Cambodian woman’s struggle to overcome a life tragedy and her own HIV positive diagnosis.

AppleAndroid