Armed conflict kills over 2,000 civilians in Somalia in 2 years: UN

SOMALIA, Mogadishu: In a photograph taken 5 Dec and released by the African Union-United Nations Information Support Team 8 Dec, Somali women look on as Ugandan soldier serving with the African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM) take up defensive positions in Torfiq market in the Yaaqshid District of northern Mogadishu. In the face of a surge of car bombings and improvised explosive device (IED) attacks, the 9,700-strong African Union force continues to conduct security and counter-IED operations in and around the Somali capital. AU-UN IST PHOTO / STUART PRICE.

At least 2,078 civilians were killed and 2,507 injured in Somalia’s armed conflict, mainly involving Al-Shabaab terror group, from January 2016 to Oct. 14, 2017, said a joint UN report released on Sunday.

The report by the UN Human Rights Office and the UN Assistance Mission in Somalia (UNSOM) said 60 percent of the deaths and injuries were attributed to Al-Shabaab militants, 13 percent to clan militias, 11 percent to state actors, including the army and the police, 4 percent to the African Union Mission to Somalia (AMISOM), and 12 percent to unidentified attackers.

Michael Keating, UN Secretary-General’s Special Representative for Somalia, said all parties to the conflict are not doing enough to shield civilians from violence in the Horn of African nation.

“Civilians are paying the price for failure to resolve Somalia’s conflicts through political means,” said Keating.

The report revealed a significant number of recorded civilian casualties — 251 killed and 343 injured — was attributed to clan militias, in areas where federal or state security forces are largely absent.

“The drought has intensified clan conflict due to competition over resources. These conflicts are exploited by anti-government elements to further destabilize areas, diminish prospects for lasting peace and weaken civilian protection,” the report stated.

The UN said armed conflict is damaging infrastructure and livelihoods, displacing millions of people, and impeding access to humanitarian relief for communities in need.

The report titled, “Protection of Civilians: Building the Foundation for Peace, Security and Human Rights in Somalia,” said the conflict has disproportionately affected children.

According to the UN, 3,335 cases of child recruitment were reported in the first ten months of 2017, with 71.5 percent attributed to Al-Shabaab, 14.6 percent to clan militia, and 7.4 percent to the Somali National Army.

According to the report, the worst incident on a single day was the twin bomb blasts in Mogadishu on Oct. 14, attributed to Al-Shabaab by the Somali government, in which at least 512 people are officially recorded to have died.

Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein, UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, said such casualties are of utmost concern as they undermine the Somali population’s trust in the government and the international community, which in turn expands the space for the operation of anti-government elements.

The report recommended that all unlawful armed groups and militia be disbanded.

It also urged parties to the conflict to take feasible precautions to protect civilians by ceasing the use of all IEDs and the firing of mortars, rockets and grenades from and into populated areas.