News / Africa

UN Warns Civilians About Anticipated Attack on Somali Port

Ugandan police officer serving with the African Union Mission in Somalia's first Formed Police Unit stands at the top of an armored personnel carrier at a police station in the capital Mogadishu, August 7, 2012.Ugandan police officer serving with the African Union Mission in Somalia's first Formed Police Unit stands at the top of an armored personnel carrier at a police station in the capital Mogadishu, August 7, 2012.
x
Ugandan police officer serving with the African Union Mission in Somalia's first Formed Police Unit stands at the top of an armored personnel carrier at a police station in the capital Mogadishu, August 7, 2012.
Ugandan police officer serving with the African Union Mission in Somalia's first Formed Police Unit stands at the top of an armored personnel carrier at a police station in the capital Mogadishu, August 7, 2012.
Gabe Joselow
NAIROBI, Kenya — A United Nations official has expressed concern about reports of civilian casualties from naval assaults on the Somali city of Kismayo. The port city is one of the last strongholds of the militant group al-Shabab, and securing Kismayo is a key objective for African Union [AU] forces fighting in Somalia.

U.N. humanitarian coordinator for Somalia, Mark Bowden, said in a statement Tuesday that fighting for control of the town of Kismayo “appears imminent," citing reports of naval gunfire and air strikes on the town.

He called for all parties involved to minimize the impact on civilians, and to allow humanitarian access.

AMISOM mission gathers steam

The statement did not specify which military was responsible for the assaults. The Kenyan Defense Forces [KDF] have been advancing toward Kismayo since entering the country to combat al-Shabab last October.

Their progress stalled around the town of Afmadow earlier this year, but the operation has regained momentum since the force was integrated into the African Union mission, known as AMISOM, in June.

An AMISOM spokesperson Tuesday would not confirm whether reports of air and naval assaults in Kismayo were part of an upcoming offensive.

Speaking by phone from Mogadishu, the head of the U.N. Office for Humanitarian Affairs [OCHA] in Somalia, Justin Brady, said the agency expects the fight for Kismayo to be intense.

“We have anticipated this one could be one of the larger battles and again, there's a large civilian population, there's a large IDP [Internally Displaced People] population and they are very likely to get caught up in that fighting,” he said.

Brady admits OCHA's information about the current humanitarian situation in Kismayo is, in his words, “pretty sketchy,” which is why they are calling for better access.

Battle begins to escalate

A civilian witness in Kismayo, who requested not to be named, told VOA that warships off the coast had been shelling targets in the city throughout the day Tuesday. He said militants have been returning fire from the shore.

He also said tensions are high in the city, and people are fleeing north to the town of Jamame.

A Kenyan military official said he could not comment on whether KDF ships were involved in any recent military activity around Kismayo.

Troops from Burundi, Kenya, and Uganda make up the bulk of soldiers in AMISOM. Ethiopian troops also are fighting against al-Shabab in Somalia, independent of the AU mission.

Map of SomaliaMap of Somalia
x
Map of Somalia
Map of Somalia

You May Like

Uganda Court Annuls Anti-Gay Law

Court says law was passed in parliament without enough members present for a full quorum More

Multimedia Thailand Makes Efforts to Improve Conditions for Migrant Laborers

In Thailand, its not uncommon for parents to bring their children to work; one company, in-collaboration with other organizations, address safety concerns More

In Indonesia, Jihad Video Raises Concern

Video calls on Indonesians to join Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant, ISIL More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
In Thailand, Some Efforts to Improve Conditions For Migrant Laborersi
X
Steve Herman
August 01, 2014 6:22 PM
Thailand has been facing increasing international scrutiny as a hub of human trafficking and slave labor. Some of the kingdom’s companies are striving to improve working conditions, especially for the millions of migrant laborers from surrounding countries. VOA Correspondent Steve Herman in Bangkok takes a look at one initiative for children at construction sites
Video

Video In Thailand, Some Efforts to Improve Conditions For Migrant Laborers

Thailand has been facing increasing international scrutiny as a hub of human trafficking and slave labor. Some of the kingdom’s companies are striving to improve working conditions, especially for the millions of migrant laborers from surrounding countries. VOA Correspondent Steve Herman in Bangkok takes a look at one initiative for children at construction sites
Video

Video Public Raises its Voice on Power Plant Pollution

In the United States, proposed rules to cut pollution from the nation’s 600 coal-fired power plants are generating a heated debate. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, charged with writing and implementing the plan, has already received 300,000 written comments. As VOA’s Rosanne Skirble reports, another 1,600 people are lining up this week at EPA headquarters and at satellite offices around the country to give their testimony in person.
Video

Video Information War Rages Alongside Real One in Ukraine

The downing of the Malaysian airliner two weeks ago, and allegations that Russians are shelling Ukrainian troops across the border, have moved the information war swirling around the Ukrainian conflict to a new level. VOA's Al Pessin reports from Kyiv.
Video

Video When Fighting Eases, Gazans Line Up at Bakeries

When there is a lull in the conflict in Gaza, residents who have been hunkered down in their apartments rush out to stock up on food and other necessities. Probably the most important destination is the local bakery. VOA’s Scott Bobb reports from Gaza City.
Video

Video China Investigates Powerful Former Security Chief

The public in China is welcoming the Communist Party's decision to investigate one of the country's once most powerful politicians, former domestic security chief Zhou Yongkang. Analysts say the move by President Xi Jinping is not only an effort to win more support for the party, but an essential step to furthering much needed economic reforms and removing those who would stand in the way of change. VOA's Bill Ide has more from Beijing.
Video

Video US-Funded Program Offers Honduran Children Alternative to Illegal Immigration

President Obama and Central American leaders recently agreed to come up with a plan to address poverty and crime in the region that is fueling the surge of young migrants trying to illegally enter the United States. VOA’s Brian Padden looks at one such program in Honduras - funded in part by the United States - which gives street kids not only food and safety but a chance for a better life without, crossing the border.
Video

Video 'Fab Lab' Igniting Revolution in Kenya

The University of Nairobi’s Science and Technology Park is banking on 3-D prototyping to spark a manufacturing revolution in the country. Lenny Ruvaga has more for from Nairobi's so-called “FabLab” for VOA.
Video

Video Immigrant Influx on Texas Border Heats Up Political Debate

Immigrants from Central America continue to cross the U.S.-Mexico border in south Texas, seeking asylum in the United States, as officials grapple with ways to deal with the problem and provide shelter for thousands of minors among the illegal border crossers. As VOA's Greg Flakus reports from Houston, the issue is complicated by internal U.S. politics and U.S. relations with the troubled nations that immigrants are fleeing.

AppleAndroid