News / Africa

HRW: Somalia Needs to Better Protect Displaced Persons

Internally displaced Somali women wait for medicine at a Save the Children UK clinic at their camp in Hodan district of Somalia's capital Mogadishu. (File)
Internally displaced Somali women wait for medicine at a Save the Children UK clinic at their camp in Hodan district of Somalia's capital Mogadishu. (File)
VOA News
Human Rights Watch is calling on the Somali government to better protect internally displaced persons living in the capital, Mogadishu, saying many face a "hostile and abusive environment."

In a report Wednesday, the group accuses militias and security forces of serious abuses, including rape, beatings, ethnic discrimination and restricting access to food and shelter.

Internally displaced citizens in Somalia.Internally displaced citizens in Somalia.
x
Internally displaced citizens in Somalia.
Internally displaced citizens in Somalia.
The United Nations estimates up to 1.4 million people are displaced in Somalia, with about half now living around Mogadishu and areas to the south.

Human Rights Watch interviewed 70 new arrivals to camps in Mogadishu who fled there because of famine or fighting between July 2011 and last November.

It says the most threatening problem in the camps is sexual violence, with women and girls there facing a "significant risk of rape."  Those incidents, the group says, often go unreported because victims fear retaliation and social stigma.

The issue gained international attention this year, when a Somali court convicted a woman who said she was raped by government soldiers while living in a displaced person's camp in Mogadishu.  The court also convicted a journalist who interviewed the woman.  Rights groups and media freedom organizations protested the convictions, calling the case politically motivated.

Somalia's Supreme Court released both the woman and the journalist last week, more than a month after they were sentenced to a year in prison.

U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon's report on Somalia to the Security Council in January said more than 800 rape cases were reported between September and November last year in and around Mogadishu.  It said many of the victims were women and children in the camps, and that the issue required "urgent intervention" by the government.

The Human Rights Watch report also focuses on the managers of the camps, or what it calls "gatekeepers" who control resources and the movement of the people living there.  The report accuses the gatekeepers and militia members of diverting or stealing food aid and threatening to confiscate tents provided by international organizations.

It says Somalia's former Transitional National Government did not hold abusive members of security forces and militias accountable, and was largely unable to fill a security vacuum left after al-Shabab militants were driven out of the city in 2011.

Last year, Ethiopian troops helped the Somali government and African Union forces further dislodge al-Shabab from its strongholds in central and southern Somalia.

Human Rights Watch says the improved security and easing of famine in Somalia provide an opportunity for greater access for the international community, and that donors need to stress the importance of accountability for serious rights abuses. It further challenges the new Somali government to show it can ensure the rights of its population, calling that an "important test of its credibility."

In January, President Hassan Sheikh Mohamud said the government will fight murder, rape and corruption, and will appropriately deal with soldiers who commit crimes.

Last month, the government announced the formation of a task force to investigate human rights abuses, including sexual violence against women.  Prime Minister Abdi Farah Shirdon's office said the body will have three months to investigate what he called a "culture of impunity" in Somalia.

Before Mr. Mohamud took office in September, Somalia had not had a stable central government since warlords overthrew then-president Mohamed Siad Barre in 1991.  The country endured 20 years of conflict and lawlessness until U.N.-backed efforts to form a new government succeeded last year.

You May Like

Nigeria Incumbent in Tight Spot as Poll Nears

Muhammadu Buhari is running a strong challenge to Goodluck Jonathan, amid a faltering economy and Boko Haram security worries More

Video Liberia's Almost Last Ebola Patient Grateful but Still Grieving

Beatrice Yardolo tells VOA that despite her fame, life is still a struggle as she waits for government's promise of support to arrive More

Video Cambodian Land Grabs Threaten Traditional Communities

At least seven different indigenous groups in Ratanakiri depend mainly on forest products for their survival, say they face loss of their land, traditional way of life More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Liberia's Almost Last Ebola Patient Grateful but Still Grievingi
X
Benno Muchler
March 26, 2015 3:41 PM
Beatrice Yardolo was to make history as Liberia’s last Ebola patient. Liberians recently started counting down 42 days, the period that has to go by without a single new infection until the World Health Organization can declare a country Ebola-free. That countdown stopped on March 20 when there was another new case of Ebola, making Yardolo’s story a reminder that Ebola is far from over. Benno Muchler reports from Monrovia.
Video

Video Liberia's Almost Last Ebola Patient Grateful but Still Grieving

Beatrice Yardolo was to make history as Liberia’s last Ebola patient. Liberians recently started counting down 42 days, the period that has to go by without a single new infection until the World Health Organization can declare a country Ebola-free. That countdown stopped on March 20 when there was another new case of Ebola, making Yardolo’s story a reminder that Ebola is far from over. Benno Muchler reports from Monrovia.
Video

Video Cambodian Land Grabs Threaten Traditional Communities

Indigenous communities in Cambodia's Ratanakiri province say the government’s economic land concession policy is taking away their land and traditional way of life, making many fear that their identity will soon be lost. Local authorities, though, have denied this is the case. VOA's Say Mony went to investigate and filed this report, narrated by Colin Lovett.
Video

Video US, South Korea Conduct Joint Military Exercises

The Eighth U.S. Army Division and the Eighth Republic of Korea Mechanized Infantry Division put on a well orchestrated show of force for the media this week during their joint military training exercises in South Korea. VOA’s Seoul correspondent Brian Padden was there and reports the soldiers were well disciplined both in conducting a complex live fire exercise and in staying on message with the press.
Video

Video Space Program Status Disappoints 'Last Man on the Moon'

One of the films that drew big crowds last week at the annual South by Southwest festival in Austin, Texas, tells the story of the last human being to stand on the moon, U.S. astronaut Eugene Cernan. It has been 42 years since Cernan returned from the moon and he laments that no one else has gone there since. VOA’s Greg Flakus reports.
Video

Video Young Filmmakers Shine Spotlight on Giving Back

A group of student filmmakers from across the United States joined President Barack Obama at the White House this month for the second annual White House Student Film Festival. Fifteen short films were officially selected from more than 1,500 entries by students aged 6 through 18. The filmmakers and their families then joined the president and a group of celebrities for a screening of their films. VOA’s Julie Taboh reports.
Video

Video VOA Exclusive: Interview with Afghan President Ashraf Ghani

Afghan President Ashraf Ghani, during his first visit as president to Washington, gave a one-on-one interview with VOA Afghan Service reporter Said Suleiman Ashna, about his request for a change in U.S. troop levels, the threat from the Islamic State, and repairing relations with the United States and Pakistan. The interview was held at Blair House, late Sunday, in Pashto.
Video

Video California Science Center Tells Story of Dead Sea Scrolls

The ancient manuscripts were uncovered in the mid-20th century, and they are still yielding clues about life and religious beliefs in ancient Israel. As VOA's Mike O'Sullivan reports, an exhibit in Los Angeles shows how modern science is bringing the history of these ancient documents to life.
Video

Video Angelina Jolie Takes Another Bold Step

Hollywood actress and filmmaker Angelina Jolie has revealed she had her ovaries and fallopian tubes removed to lower her odds of getting cancer. Doctors say the huge publicity over her decision will help raise awareness about the importance of cancer screening. VOA’s George Putic has more

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