Friday, March 29, 2013
Somalia: Protect Displaced People at Risk
Human Rights Watch said that members of state security forces and armed groups have raped, beaten, and otherwise abused displaced Somalis who ran away from famine and armed conflict. Protection and securit for those displaced population is needed from Somali government.Cases of serious violations, including physical attacks, restrictions on movement and access to food and shelter, and clan-based discrimination against the displaced in Mogadishu is briefly described in the report(“Hostages of the Gatekeepers”).
People who came to find safety from famine faced new conflicts of hostility and abuse. Rape and sexual abuse of displaced women and girls, including by government soldiers and militia members, has been an enormous problem in the unprotected environment of the camps. Many victims of sexual violence don’t report their experiences to the authorities because they fear reprisals from their attackers. Gatekeepers and militias controlling the camps have also diverted and stolen food aid intended for famine-stricken camp residents. Gatekeepers sometimes have kept camp residents from leaving to attract greater humanitarian assistance, which the gatekeepers would then siphon off for their own benefit. The communities from the regions most affected by the famine have been particularly vulnerable to abuses.
The new government should turn the page on the transitional government’s failures and provide accountable protection to the displaced, who are among Somalia’s most vulnerable citizen. The new Somali government announced plans to relocate the capital’s tens of thousands of displaced people in 2013. The government should ensure that relocations are voluntary, that they are conducted safely and with dignity, and that competent police forces can provide security at the relocation sites. The government’s stated aim of completing relocation of displaced people despite the tremendous challenges of providing assistance and protection at the new resettlement sites. They should be careful that not to put the displaced at greater risk of abuse and neglect.