News / Africa

UN Presses Kenya on Kismayo Civilian Protection

East African civilians depart in a truck, right, as AMISOM forces advance on al-Shabab-controlled region, Somalia, Sept. 4, 2012.
East African civilians depart in a truck, right, as AMISOM forces advance on al-Shabab-controlled region, Somalia, Sept. 4, 2012.
Gabe Joselow
As Kenyan troops close in on the al-Shabab militant stronghold of Kismayo, Somalia, United Nations officials are urging armed forces to try to minimize civilian casualties.
 
U.N. Humanitarian Coordinator for Somalia Mark Bowden met with the Kenyan defense minister and military officials in Nairobi Wednesday to discuss ways to protect civilian lives as the military operation heats up around the port city.
 
Port Kismayo, SomaliaPort Kismayo, Somalia
x
Port Kismayo, Somalia
Port Kismayo, Somalia
Bowden said there has been a spike in the number of civilians fleeing the coastal city, one of the Somali militant group's last remaining bastions.

“At the moment there appears to be a level of panic or concern about military operations, and yesterday we recorded over a thousand people leaving Kismayo," said Bowden, explaining that plans for providing humanitarian access to those in need must be made as soon as possible.
 
Al-Shabab Timeline
 
2006: Launches insurgency to topple Somali government, impose Islamic law
 
2008: U.S. declares al-Shabab a foreign terrorist organization
 
2009: Seizes control of parts of Mogadishu, Kismayo
 
2010: Expands control across central and southern Somalia; carries out deadly bombings in Kampala, Uganda in first attack outside Somali
 
2011: Blocks drought/famine aid from areas under its control
 
2011: East African leaders declare al-Shabab a regional threat, Ethiopian, Kenyan troops enter Somalia to pursue the group, which is driven out of Mogadishu
 
2012: Declares itself an al-Qaida ally, loses ground in Somalia, troops advance on the group's stronghold Kismayo
“The concern is that their interests are safeguarded and hopefully we can then make sure these people don't become long-termed displaced populations, and are able to return to safety as soon as possible," he said.

Accounts of civilian casualties
 
According to Kenyan military officials, ships have been shelling al-Shabab targets in Kismayo, and receiving return fire from militants, in the past few months. U.S.-based Human Rights Watch urged Kenya to investigate an August shelling incident in which two children and a pregnant woman were killed. 
 
Although Kenya's military was integrated with African Union forces (AMISOM) in June, its naval ships continue to operate independent of the AMISOM mission.
 
Kenyan military spokesman Colonel Cyrus Oguna said that, in operating independently, Kenyan forces are doing nothing illegal.

“We're not entirely banned from using maritime forces as long as it's in line with our national interests," he said. "So yes, that's why we're using maritime forces [to shell Kismayo], including air forces. As long as we're using it to protect our national interests and we're also taking care of collateral damage, we have not broken any law whatsoever.”
 
Oguna also said Kenyan and Somali forces captured the town of Jana Cabdalla, which is within 50 kilometers of Kismayo, on Wednesday.
 
A fight to the death
 
Military officials and witnesses have said al-Shabab commanders have been fleeing Kismayo this week, but that some fighters may be staying behind to defend the city.
 
VOA Somali service reports an al-Shabab radio transmitter dismantled earlier this week in Kismayo is again up and running, broadcasting the group's message and urging residents to stay calm, but vowing to fight to the death.

You May Like

Computer Crash Halts US Visa, Passport Operation

Problems with database have resulted in extensive backlog of applications, affected State Department's consular offices all over the world 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

World Bank: Boko Haram Stalls African Aid Projects

Islamist group’s terrorism sets back agriculture, health efforts in Cameroon, Chad and Nigeria More

This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
Comments
     
by: Mark Timeline
September 20, 2012 12:07 AM
Please keep some focus on Zimbabwe. The UN along with others overlooked what has taken place in Zimbabwe, with diplomatic "speak", implicitly believing the situation would "go away". A Timeline of events there is a telling account of tragedy beyond the imagination.


by: Tenebrae_retro from: Kilifi
September 19, 2012 6:15 PM
I wonder why the UN is not just as diligent about 'civilian safety' in Afghanistan, or before that Iraq. Or why it had nothing to say in the time Somalia was written off by the whole world as a failed state, a hopeless basket case. Now, as a kind of victory starts to offer itself in a piece of light, the mostly idle UN rushes in to declare themselves the rising sun. What a bore. When one will hear them speak firmly and loudly about US and NATO expeditions elsewhere, then perhaps...perhaps then, one shall listen.

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