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

Turbulent Transition Imperils Tunisia’s Arab Spring Gains

Critics say new anti-terrorism laws worsen Tunisia's situation while others put faith in country’s vibrant civil organizations, women’s movement More

Burundi’s Political Crisis May Become Humanitarian One

United Nations aid agencies issue warning as deadly violence sends tens of thousands fleeing More

Yemenis Adjust to Life Under Houthi Rule

Locals want warring parties to strike deal to stop bloodletting before deciding how country is governed 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.
Texas Town Residents Told to 'Just Leave' Ahead of Flood Threati
X
Greg Flakus
May 29, 2015 11:24 PM
Water from heavy rain in eastern and central Texas is now swelling rivers that flow into the Gulf of Mexico, threatening towns along their banks. VOA’s Greg Flakus visited the town of Wharton, southwest of Houston, where the Colorado River is close to cresting.
Video

Video Texas Town Residents Told to 'Just Leave' Ahead of Flood Threat

Water from heavy rain in eastern and central Texas is now swelling rivers that flow into the Gulf of Mexico, threatening towns along their banks. VOA’s Greg Flakus visited the town of Wharton, southwest of Houston, where the Colorado River is close to cresting.
Video

Video New York's One World Trade Center Observatory Opens to Public

From New Jersey to Long Island, from Northern suburbs to the Atlantic Ocean, with all of New York City in-between.  That view became available to the public Friday as the One World Trade Center Observatory opened in New York -- atop the replacement for the buildings destroyed in the September 11, 2001, attacks.  VOA’s Bernard Shusman reports.
Video

Video Seoul Sponsors Korean Unification Fair

With inter-Korean relations deteriorating over the North’s nuclear program, past military provocations and human rights abuses, many Koreans still hold out hope for eventual peaceful re-unification. VOA’s Brian Padden visited a “unification fair” held this week in Seoul, where border communities promoted the benefits of increased cooperation.
Video

Video Purple Door Coffeeshop: Changing Lives One Cup at a Time

For a quarter of his life, Kevin Persons lived on the street. Today, he is working behind the counter of an espresso bar, serving coffee and working to transition off the streets and into a home. Paul Vargas reports for VOA.
Video

Video Modular Robot Getting Closer to Reality

A robot being developed at Carnegie Mellon University has evolved into a multi-legged modular mechanical snake, able to move over rugged surfaces and explore the surroundings. Scientists say such machines could someday help in search and rescue operations. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Shanghai Hosts Big Consumer Electronics Show

Electronic gadgets are a huge success in China, judging by the first Asian Consumer Electronics Show, held this week in Shanghai. Over the course of two days, more than 20,000 visitors watched, tested and played with useful and some less-useful electronic devices exhibited by about 200 manufacturers. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Forced to Return Home, Afghan Refugees Face Increased Hardship

Undocumented refugees returning to Afghanistan from Pakistan have no jobs, no support system, and no home return to, and international aid agencies say they and the government are overwhelmed and under-resourced. Ayesha Tanzeem has more from Kabul.
Video

Video Britain Makes Controversial Move to Crack Down on Extremism

Britain is moving to tighten controls on extremist rhetoric, even when it does not incite violence or hatred -- a move that some are concerned might unduly restrict basic freedoms. It is an issue many countries are grappling with as extremist groups gain power in the Middle East, fueled in part by donations and fighters from the West. VOA’s Al Pessin reports from London.
Video

Video 3D Printer Makes Replica of Iconic Sports Car

Cars with parts made by 3D printers are already on the road, but engineers are still learning about this new technology. While testing the possibility of printing an entire car, researchers at the U.S. Department of Energy recently created an electric-powered replica of an iconic sports roadster. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Al-Shabab Recruitment Drive Still on In Kenya

The al-Shabab militants that have long battled for control of Somalia also have recruited thousands of young people in Kenya, leaving many families disconsolate. Mohammed Yusuf recently visited the Kenyan town of Isiolo, and met with relatives of those recruited, as well as a many who have helped with the recruiting.
Video

Video A Small Oasis on Kabul's Outskirts Provides Relief From Security Tensions

When people in Kabul want to get away from the city and relax, many choose Qargha Lake, a small resort on the outskirts of Kabul. Ayesha Tanzeem visited and talked with people about the precious oasis.
Video

Video Kenyans Lament Losing Sons to al-Shabab

There is agony, fear and lost hope in the Kenyan town of Isiolo, a key target of a new al-Shabab recruitment drive. VOA's Mohammed Yusuf visits Isiolo to speak with families and at least one man who says he was a recruiter.
Video

Video Scientists Say Plankton More Important Than Previously Thought

Tiny ocean creatures called plankton are mostly thought of as food for whales and other large marine animals, but a four-year global study discovered, among other things, that plankton are a major source of oxygen on our planet. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Kenya’s Capital Sees Rise in Shisha Parlors

In Kenya, the smoking of shisha, a type of flavored tobacco, is the latest craze. Patrons are flocking to shisha parlors to smoke and socialize. But the practice can be addictive and harmful, though many dabblers may not realize the dangers, according to a new review. Lenny Ruvaga has more on the story for VOA from Nairobi, Kenya.

VOA Blogs