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

At Khmer Rouge Court, Long-Awaited Verdict Approaches

First phase of trial, which is coming to an end, has focused on forced exodus of Phnom Penh in 1975 - and now many are hopeful justice will be served More

Video When Fighting Eases, Gazans Line Up at Bakeries

When there is a lull in the conflict, residents who have been hunkered down in their apartments rush out to stock up on food and other necessities More

Video Information War Rages Alongside Real One in Ukraine

Downing of Malaysian airliner, allegations of cross-border shelling move information war in war-torn country to a new level More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Information War Rages Alongside Real One in Ukrainei
X
Al Pessin
July 31, 2014 8:13 PM
The downing of the Malaysian airliner two weeks ago, and allegations that Russians are shelling Ukrainian troops across the border, have moved the information war swirling around the Ukrainian conflict to a new level. VOA's Al Pessin reports from Kyiv.
Video

Video Information War Rages Alongside Real One in Ukraine

The downing of the Malaysian airliner two weeks ago, and allegations that Russians are shelling Ukrainian troops across the border, have moved the information war swirling around the Ukrainian conflict to a new level. VOA's Al Pessin reports from Kyiv.
Video

Video When Fighting Eases, Gazans Line Up at Bakeries

When there is a lull in the conflict in Gaza, residents who have been hunkered down in their apartments rush out to stock up on food and other necessities. Probably the most important destination is the local bakery. VOA’s Scott Bobb reports from Gaza City.
Video

Video US-Funded Program Offers Honduran Children Alternative to Illegal Immigration

President Obama and Central American leaders recently agreed to come up with a plan to address poverty and crime in the region that is fueling the surge of young migrants trying to illegally enter the United States. VOA’s Brian Padden looks at one such program in Honduras - funded in part by the United States - which gives street kids not only food and safety but a chance for a better life without, crossing the border.
Video

Video 'Fab Lab' Igniting Revolution in Kenya

The University of Nairobi’s Science and Technology Park is banking on 3-D prototyping to spark a manufacturing revolution in the country. Lenny Ruvaga has more for from Nairobi's so-called “FabLab” for VOA.
Video

Video Gazans in Shelled School Sought Shelter

Israel's air and ground assault against Hamas-led fighters in Gaza has forced many Palestinians to flee their homes, seeking safety. But safe places are hard to find, as VOA’s Scott Bobb reports from Jabaliya.
Video

Video Rapid Spread of Ebola in West Africa Prompts Global Alert

Across West Africa, health officials are struggling to keep up with what the World Health Organization describes as the worst ebola outbreak on record. The virus has killed hundreds of people this year. U.S. President Barack Obama and other world leaders are watching the developments closely as they weigh what actions, if any, are needed to help contain the disease.
Video

Video Michelle Obama: Young Africans Need to Embrace Women's Rights

U.S. first lady Michelle Obama urged some of Africa's best and brightest to advocate for women's rights in their home countries. As VOA's Pam Dockins explains, Obama spoke to some 500 participants of the Young African Leaders Initiative, a six-week U.S.-based training and development program.
Video

Video Immigrant Influx on Texas Border Heats Up Political Debate

Immigrants from Central America continue to cross the U.S.-Mexico border in south Texas, seeking asylum in the United States, as officials grapple with ways to deal with the problem and provide shelter for thousands of minors among the illegal border crossers. As VOA's Greg Flakus reports from Houston, the issue is complicated by internal U.S. politics and U.S. relations with the troubled nations that immigrants are fleeing.
Video

Video Study: Latino Students Most Segregated in California

Even though legal school segregation ended in the United States 60 years ago, one study finds segregation still occurs in the U.S. based on income and race. The University of California Los Angeles Civil Rights Project finds that students in California are more segregated by race than ever before, especially Latinos. Elizabeth Lee reports for VOA from Los Angeles.

AppleAndroid