News / Africa

UN Calls for Human Rights Probe in Somalia

Multimedia

Audio
Michael Onyiego

As fighting intensifies between the fragile Somali government and Islamist rebels, civilians are increasingly being caught in the crossfire.  The United Nations is calling for Somali authorities and African Union troops to investigate human-rights violations and punish those responsible, who have acted up to now with impunity, in the Horn of African nation.

U.N. Deputy High Commissioner for Human Rights Kyung-wha Kang is calling for the international community to combat the "culture of impunity" that has fueled more than two decades of war in Somalia.  Kang's comments followed an official two-day tour of the semi-autonomous Puntland region, in the northeast, and the self-declared state of Somaliland in northwestern Somalia.

Speaking late Wednesday in Nairobi, Kang told reporters that documenting human rights-abuses in the war-torn country would be critical to building a lasting peace.

"Even as conflict continues in some areas, we must begin the work of systematically documenting the most serious abuses throughout the years of conflict with the vision of one day holding perpetrators to account," said Kang.  "Addressing the continuing cycle of impunity and violence should be a cornerstone in the foundation of building peace in Somalia.  And it should be a deterrent  to would-be violators that they will be held to account."

The U.N.-backed Somalia government has been struggling to maintain control of parts of the capital, Mogadishu while battling Islamist insurgent group al-Shabab.  Just more than three weeks ago, the al Qaida-linked group launched an offensive to conquer more territory in the city.  The United Nations estimates more than 230 people were killed and another 23,000 were driven from their homes in the first two weeks of fighting.   

Al-Shabab forces often fire mortars at government controlled areas of the city, with government troops responding in kind.  Government forces, backed by 7,200 African Union troops, recently have been accused of indiscriminately killing civilians while firing on neighborhoods that harbor rebel forces.  

During her trip, Kang also visited refugee camps, where she said residents were suffering from neglect and mismanagement.  Kang urged the international community and the Somali authorities to "step up" their efforts.

"In my visit to the IDP camp I had a clear sense that much more needs to be done. They were not getting the sufficient levels of food assistance, health assistance, educational assistance that international norms require.  This is some of the worst situations that we find internally displaced persons in.  So, clearly, there is need for more support, more systematic support," said Kang.

Somalia has not had a functioning central government since dictator Mohammed Siad Barre was removed from power in 1991.  Government forces have been battling al-Shabab since 2007, but have lost control of much of southern Somalia, clinging to only parts of the capital.

You May Like

Could Nemtsov Threaten Putin in Death as in Life?

Dynamic and debonair opposition leader had supported liberal economic reforms, criticized Russian president's aggression in Ukraine More

Oil Smuggling Highlights Challenges in Shutting Down IS Finances

Pentagon spokesman says Islamic State 'certainly continues to get revenue from the oil industry black market' but that airstrikes have made a dent More

India Focuses on Infrastructure, Investment to Propel Economy

Government expects economy to grow at 8 to 8.5 percent in next fiscal year 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.
US Supreme Court Hears Hijab Discrimination Casei
X
Katherine Gypson
February 25, 2015 11:30 PM
The U.S. Supreme Court has heard opening arguments in a workplace religious discrimination case that examines whether a clothing store can refuse to hire a young woman for wearing the headscarf she says is a symbol of her Muslim faith. Katherine Gypson reports from the Supreme Court.
Video

Video US Supreme Court Hears Hijab Discrimination Case

The U.S. Supreme Court has heard opening arguments in a workplace religious discrimination case that examines whether a clothing store can refuse to hire a young woman for wearing the headscarf she says is a symbol of her Muslim faith. Katherine Gypson reports from the Supreme Court.
Video

Video Falling Gas Prices Hurt Nascent Illinois Hydraulic Fracturing Industry

Falling oil prices are helping consumers purchase cheaper petroleum at the pump. But that’s made hydraulic fracturing or “fracking” less economically viable for the companies in the United States invested in the process. VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports on one Midwestern town that was hoping to change its fortunes by cashing in on the next big U.S. oil boom.
Video

Video Fighting in Sudan's South Kordofan Fuels Mass Displacement

Heavy fighting in Sudan's South Kordofan state is causing hundreds of thousands to flee into uncertain conditions. Local aid organizations estimate as many as 400,000 civilians have been internally displaced since the conflict began more than three years ago, while another 250,000 have fled across the border to refugee camps in South Sudan. VOA's Adam Bailes reports.
Video

Video Lao Dam Project Runs Into Opposition

A Lao dam project on a section of the Mekong River is drawing opposition from local fishermen, international environmental groups and neighboring countries. VOA's Say Mony visited the region to investigate the concerns. Colin Lovett narrates.
Video

Video A Filmmaker Discovers Her Biracial Identity in "Little White Lie

Lacey Schwartz grew up in an upper middle-class Jewish family, in a town in upstate New York where almost everyone she knew was white. She assumed that she was, as well. Her recent documentary, Little White Lie, tells the story of how she uncovered the secret of her true racial background. VOA’s Carolyn Weaver has more on the film.
Video

Video Deep Under Antarctic Ice Sheet, Life!

With the end of summer in the Southern hemisphere, the Antarctic research season is over. Scientists from Northern Illinois University are back in their laboratory after a 3-month expedition on the Ross Ice Shelf, the world’s largest floating ice sheet. As VOA’s Rosanne Skirble reports, they hope to find clues to explain the dynamics of the rapidly melting ice and its impact on sea level rise.
Video

Video US-Cuba Normalization Talks Resume Friday

Negotiations aimed at normalizing diplomatic relations between the U.S. and Cuba resume Friday. On the table: lifting a half-century trade embargo and easing banking and travel restrictions. There's opposition in Congress, but some analysts say there may be sufficient political and economic incentives in both nations for a potential breakthrough this year. VOA's Mil Arcega reports.
Video

Video Pakistan's Deadline For SIM Registration Has Cellphone Users Scrambling

Pakistani cell phone users have until midnight Thursday to register their SIM cards, or their service will be cut off. While some privacy experts worry about government intrusion, many Pakistanis are just worried about keeping their phone lines open. VOA Deewa reporter Arshad Muhmand has more from Peshawar.
Video

Video Myanmar Warns Factory Workers to End Strikes

Outside Myanmar's main city Yangon, thousands of workers walked off their jobs earlier this month demanding a doubling of their wages, pay raises after a year and input from labor unions on industrial regulations. Since Friday, the standoff has grown more tense as police moved in to disrupt the sit-ins, resulting in clashes that injured people from both sides. VOA correspondent Steve Herman visited industrial zones which have become a focus of Myanmar's fledgling workers rights movement.
Video

Video Oscar Winners Do More Than Thank the Academy

The Academy Awards presentation is Hollywood’s night to reward the best movies from the previous year. It’s typically a lot of glitter, a lot of thank you’s, a lot of speeches. But many of this year’s speeches carried messages beyond the thank you's. VOA’s Carolyn Presutti takes a look.

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