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

Philippines, Muslim Rebels Try to Salvage Peace Pact

Peace process faces major setback after botched military operation to find terrorists results in bloody gunbattle between government forces, Moro Islamic Liberation Front fighters More

Republicans Expect Long, Expensive Presidential Battle

Political strategist says eventual winner will be one who can put together strongest coalition of various conservative groups that make up Republican Party More

Video New Wheelchair Is Easier to Use, Increases Mobility

Engineers have come up with a lever-operated design that makes use of easily accessible bicycle technology 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.
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