Internal Conflict

What is affected
Housing Social/public
Housing private
Land Social/public
Land Private
Type of violation Forced eviction
Date 01 January 2008
Region AFA [ Africa anglophone ]
Country Somalia
Location Mogadishu

Affected persons

Total 60000
Men 0
Women 0
Children 0
Proposed solution
Forced eviction

Duty holder(s) /responsible party(ies)

Brief narrative

Source: AfricaFocus

Somalia: Most neglected crisis in the world; one million internally displaced lack basic assistance Report Says U.S. Must Condemn Human Rights Violations by Ethiopian Military Forces

Washington, D.C.-- A report released today by Refugees International calls Somalia the most neglected crisis in the world. In order to stabilize Somalia and keep the crisis from spreading further, the report calls on the UN Security Council to approach the use of UN peacekeepers with extreme caution and asks the US Congress to investigate the conditions under which military support was provided to Ethiopia. The UN also needs a larger number of Somalia-based staff in order to increase its capacity to monitor and deliver impartial assistance to vulnerable Somalis.

The report describes ’a staggering scale of need’ for the one million people now displaced. Based on recent figures from the UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR), the report says that malnutrition rates for children under 5 are alarmingly high. In the first three months of 2008 alone, 60,000 people fled Mogadishu due to ongoing conflict, including ’search and sweep’ operations conducted by the Transitional Federal Government of Somalia and the Ethiopian military. Displaced Somalis told Refugees International of the indiscriminate killing of civilians and the shelling of entire neighborhoods. Refugees International spoke to some of the 200,000 civilians who have settled on the road to Afgooye, a village approximately 30 km west of Mogadishu. That area is now the most densely populated settlement of internally displaced people in the world.

’Somalis perceive the United States as supporting the Ethiopian presence and the reprehensible behavior of Ethiopian troops in their country. The heavy-handed bombing of individual targets in Somalia and other military actions fuels this anti-American sentiment,’ said advocate Patrick Duplat. ’By condemning human rights abuses and holding the Ethiopian military accountable for their actions, the U.S. can go a long way towards defusing tensions in the Horn of Africa. We hope that Congress will investigate the military support that was provided to Ethiopian forces.’

The report also focuses on the feasibility of a peacekeeping force in Somalia and highlights the current political culture in Somalia as an impediment to progress. Interviews with local Somalis made clear that the transitional government is largely viewed as an externally-imposed and illegitimate body. Abusive behavior by security forces and the Ethiopian military further erodes support. Under these circumstances, the report argues that a peacekeeping force is unlikely to fill the security vacuum, protect civilians, or allow for safe delivery of humanitarian aid. The report urges the UN Security Council to seriously consider the Secretary-General’s own assessment that the deployment of peacekeepers in Somalia can only succeed when there is a peace to keep.

’The UN risks repeating the mistakes it made in the early 1990s. The Security Council is considering a peacekeeping force without sufficient discussion over whether this is a viable solution to the ongoing crisis in Somalia,’ said peacebuilding advocate Erin Weir. ’Peacekeepers should only be deployed if minimal political benchmarks are met and if UN member states are willing to provide the troops, equipment and mandate to confront armed resistance and address the root political causes of the Somali conflict.’

Refugees International also urges the UN to increase the number of field-based staff inside Somalia, instead of relying primarily on senior staff in Nairobi. The report describes how some senior staff have been unable to go to Mogadishu for months and argues that remote staff are often ’out of touch with the fast changing realities on the ground.’ The recent targeted kidnapping and killing of aid workers proves the difficulty and danger of operating in Somalia, but the UN Refugee Agency, in particular, should dramatically increase its Somalia-based staff to enable ongoing protection work through periods of high insecurity.

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