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

Myanmar Fighting Poses Dilemma for China

To gain some insight into conflict, VOA’s Steve Herman spoke with Min Zaw Oo, director of ceasefire negotiation and implementation at Myanmar Peace Center More

Australia Concerned Over Islamic State 'Brides'

Canberra believes there are between 30 and 40 Australian women who have taken part in terror attacks or are supporting the Islamic State terror network More

Recreational Marijuana Use Now Legal in Washington, DC

Law allows adults 21 and over to privately possess and smoke 0.05 kilogram of pot, and to grow small amounts of the plant 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.
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