‘Peacekeepers’ kill Somali civilians, African Union says

This video is called Civilians killed in Somali fighting.

From Al Jazeera today:

AU warns of Somalia civilian deaths

The African Union has warned in an internal report that it risks losing public support in Somalia if it continues to kill large numbers of civilians.

About 5,000 AU peacekeepers are stationed in the Somali capital, Mogadishu, protecting the weak Transitional Federal Government.

The AU’s report concluded that the peacekeepers have indiscriminately shelled civilian areas, causing large numbers of casualties.

The organisation called for “urgent attention” to the problem of civilian casualties.

The AU’s assessment was conducted between April and June of this year, and first reported on Wednesday by The Associated Press news agency. …

Human Rights Watch reported in April that AU peacekeepers routinely respond to Al-Shabab attacks by launching indiscriminate attacks into civilian areas.

“AU forces have fired mortar shells into densely populated areas without taking precautions to discriminate between civilians and military targets,” the group said. “Such attacks… violate the laws of war.”

Afyare Abdi Elmi, a Somalia expert at Qatar University, said the AU assessment was accurate, and that the shelling was beginning to harm perceptions of the AU force.

“At least in the beginning, the AU was not having problems the Ethiopians had. They were not perceived as an occupying force,” Elmi said.

“But now with indiscriminate shelling … this is beyond the limit. It is hurting their perception.”

Ethiopian troops invaded Somalia in 2006 to depose the government. Their presence was deeply unpopular, and rights groups say they routinely killed civilians.

See also here. And here.

The Uganda bombings are a sad reminder of the ways that Washington’s intervention has exacerbated problems in Somalia: here.

Right after Uganda’s horrendous and deadly twin bombings killed 74 people, President Barack Obama spoke with Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni to express his sadness and to offer condolences for the loss of life. But another key part of the conversation dealt with the Somalia-based militia, the al-Shabab, and AFRICOM: here.

22 thoughts on “‘Peacekeepers’ kill Somali civilians, African Union says

  1. The Monitor (Kampala)

    Uganda: Let’s Get Out of Somalia If Our Lives Are Threatened

    Beti Kamya

    23 July 2010


    July 11 will go down in the history of Uganda as one of the saddest days of our times. Losing a family member, in the prime of their life, well educated, holding a good job, with a great future ahead, is heart-breaking.

    But for a poor country like Uganda, losing close to 80 such people is a high price to pay for whatever it was that motivated us to send our troops to Somalia!

    My heart goes out to the bereaved families. My own children, nieces, nephews and their friends aged between 18 and 25 years are regular patrons of Kyadondo Rugby Club, but by the Grace of God, they did not go there that Sunday. We lost eight young people in Lubaga North…you do not want to imagine the aura of sadness, gloom and mourning that covered the constituency those four days or so. May the souls of the deceased rest in peace!

    President Museveni threatened to go after those involved in the heinous act, which, if they were suicide bombers, might be easier for him to pray that they rot in hell. Ugandans have come together in a rare spate of patriotism, many of them agreeing with Museveni that we go after al Shabaab but stay in Somalia!

    I have some food for thought, and please don’t get me wrong, I’m as pained as anybody else. Al Shabaab advised Uganda against interfering in Somalia affairs years ago, and threatened that Uganda would regret the repercussions if we went to Somalia. Remember, the USA had tasted (or tested) Somali’s rage and resolve a decade ago and pulled out of Somalia, American ego and patriotism notwithstanding.

    Other African countries which had offered peacekeeping troops to Somalia, perhaps, taking the al Shabaab warning seriously and learning from the USA experience, withdrew their offer…. but as usual, reckless, war-adventurous-Uganda, went solo to Somalia. Now Uganda has lost close to 80 of our hope-for-the-future, but chest-thumping, we are vowing to go after al Shabaab, who are saying “Uganda, get out of our country…” By insisting on staying in Somalia and fighting al Shabaab, whose war are we fighting? Is Uganda the most vulnerable that we should pay the full price of the possible repercussions of the Somalia conflict? It is clear that Uganda has the biggest ego in this matter but question is, can Uganda afford an ego bigger than that of the USA who left Somalia?

    If the recent death of Ugandans in the bomb blasts is the sacrifice to save many more that could die in this conflict, let us pull our troops out of Somalia and save Uganda from getting more involved in something that might cost us more lives and money, which we need to concentrate on our more immediate problems like corruption, poor infrastructure and social services. If the USA could bow their heads and get out of Somalia, Iraq, Afghanistan and Vietnam, so can Uganda get out of Somalia, moreover, with our heads high, if it is to save Ugandans from unwarranted misery and death, plus, we have a credible excuse that we have been let down by others who had offered to send troops to Somalia but didn’t.

    Uganda should offer to support the dialogue process so that Somalis sort out their problems instead of going to war with Somali fundamentalists who have nothing to lose, not even their own lives! Let’s get out of Somalia, if the life of one more Ugandan is threatened by our continued stay there.

    Ms Kamya is the interim chairperson


  2. The Monitor (Kampala)

    Uganda: Did Region Enter Somalia Without an Exit Strategy?

    O. Kalinge-Nnyago

    23 July 2010


    When Ethiopia routed the Union of Islamic Courts from Mogadishu in December 2006, a lot of footwork followed. President Museveni swiftly flew to Addis Ababa.

    The then US Undersecretary for Africa, Ms Jendayi Frazer, was in Nairobi a few days into the new year to meet the ‘victorious’ Transitional Federal Government (TFG) and other members of the Somali Contact Group. The Union of Islamic Courts was an alliance of Islamic Somali groups that had managed to bring stability to Somalia for over six months before the US, using Ethiopia as proxy, decided that peace in Somalia was desirable, yes, but not if it was brought about by Islamic elements.

    Museveni pledged 1,000 soldiers and later another 1,000 to a Somali peace mission. By the time he did so, he had not yet brought the matter before Parliament. He later did. The NRM-dominated Parliament rubber stamped his decision. But not before intense debate, resulting in a minority report from the Defence Committee by opposition legislators. The deployment had to be done quickly, because each day that passed before a peace force was deployed, Ethiopia got into more trouble in Somalia and at home too.

    Zenawi had promised his citizens that he would to pull out of Somalia within days or weeks. The TFG could not hold out in Mogadishu without Ethiopian presence. A prolonged Ethiopian presence would only embolden the UIC fighters and Somali nationalists who harboured deep suspicion of the Ethiopian intervention.

    Museveni’s eagerness to contribute troops was understandable. He was keen to be seen as a big player, in the run-up to the East African political federation, then on a fast track. And also as a peace maker for the first time, after years of being labelled a notorious “peace breaker” in the region. His involvement in Rwanda, Congo and southern Sudan had not helped his image. Moreover, in the cutthroat business of jostling for favours from the USA, Museveni could not miss this opportunity to appear useful to America.

    Before the Ugandan troops moved in, America’s aerial attacks on Somalia’s southern towns of Hayo and near the Kenyan border targeting ‘wanted terrorists’ complicated matters. The UN expressed concern over the attacks that had killed 70 civilians, nearly the same number that were killed in Kampala this month. IGADD and AU now needed more consultations before deploying troops that they would have required before the American strikes.

    Fear of an all-out war was now real, especially as American special ground forces were expected to enter Somalia, as it would be logical after introductory air strikes. This did not happen. Instead, Uganda’s hasty offer came in handy, and the US offered to pick the bills of the ‘peace keeping’ force, which was the lesser risk. The US has intervened before in Somalia with disastrous consequences, leading to a hasty and embarrassing exit in 1994.

    After the Kampala attacks, a new urgency has emerged, that plays out well with some vested interests. Uganda is now being encouraged to not only increase troops in Somalia, but to revise its mission to a combat role.

    If other African countries don’t contribute soldiers, leaving Burundi and Uganda alone in the Somali desert, a surge in Uganda troops and a revision of the mandate will certainly be interpreted by Somali nationalists, not only the al-Shabaab and global anti-imperialist forces, as an outright invasion of Somalia by America using Uganda as proxy.

    This would tremendously complicate matters for Uganda’s internal and external security in an election year. It would also further endanger the lives of Americans living in the region.

    Rather than act on emotional considerations, what Uganda’s leadership needs is a well considered multi-partisan exit strategy from Somalia.

    Mr Kalinge-Nyago is an independent researcher and e-learning specialist


  3. Business Day (Johannesburg)

    South Africa: Sisulu Warns of ‘Terror’ Threat for Joining AU Forces

    Linda Ensor

    30 July 2010

    Johannesburg — SA could become vulnerable to the type of terrorist bomb attacks that rocked Kampala, Defence Minister Lindiwe Sisulu warned yesterday.

    SA could become vulnerable to the type of terrorist bomb attacks that rocked Kampala during the World Cup in protest against Uganda’s military involvement in Somalia, Defence Minister Lindiwe Sisulu warned yesterday.

    She told Parliament SA was under increasing pressure from the African Union and the Southern African Development Community (Sadc) to send soldiers to reinforce a peacekeeping mission in Somalia.

    Ms Sisulu told the defence and military veterans portfolio committee it was precisely for this security reason that the question of SA’s involvement could be raised only after the soccer event was over.

    The European Union has also asked SA to get involved.

    The Cabinet had to decide soon whether it would send forces to protect sea lanes from pirates, and land forces to bring stability.

    Deputy Defence Minister Thabang Makwetla said South African forces were combat ready but the question was whether there were sufficient numbers for another mission, which would be more peace enforcement than peacekeeping.

    SA already has a battalion in the Democratic Republic of Congo and one in Darfur and has a detachment in the Central African Republic. Furthermore, lives would probably be lost, Mr Makwetla said.

    On the other hand, not sending forces to Somalia would undermine SA’s political standing on the continent, to which it had a responsibility, he said. “We need to start discussions on a very urgent basis.”

    Ms Sisulu insisted that if South African forces went to Somalia, it would be for a limited period and only as part of a broad, shared African mission.

    Kenya, Uganda and Burundi have more than 500000 soldiers in that country.

    Sadc has sent a task team to the Horn of Africa to investigate how to protect Sadc waters from pirates who are moving further and further south along the east African coast. Ms Sisulu said SA was ready to deploy forces to Somali waters.

    During the committee meeting, Ms Sisulu locked horns with Democratic Alliance defence spokesman David Maynier over the release of two preliminary reports from the interim defence force service commission, which found that service conditions in the defence force were appalling.

    The committee has been in a tussle with the minister since November to get access to the reports, arguing that it needed them to deliberate on the Defence Amendment Bill.

    The bill proposes the establishment of a permanent defence force service commission.


  4. UN calls on Saudi Arabia to stop deporting Somalis

    30 Jul 2010 10:18:58 GMT

    Source: Reuters

    * Kingdom has deported 1,000 Somalis a month for past year

    * UNHCR urges all states to give Somalis temporary residence

    By Stephanie Nebehay

    GENEVA, July 30 (Reuters) – The United Nations refugee agency called on Saudi Arabia on Friday to halt expulsions of Somalis to Mogadishu, rebuking the kingdom for deporting 1,000 a month by aircraft to the violent capital.

    Neighbouring countries should offer legal residence to Somali workers and asylum-seekers until it is safe to return to Mogadishu, where civilians are often targeted in the fighting between Somali forces and Islamist al Shabaab rebels, it said.

    “Given the deadly violence in Mogadishu, UNHCR is urging the Saudi authorities to refrain from future deportations on humanitarian grounds,” Melissa Fleming, spokeswoman of the U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), told a news briefing.

    Saudi authoritieshave told the UNHCR that they are deporting Somalis who have been staying in the country illegally, according to U.N. sources.

    UNHCR said a week ago that Somali refugees were also being harassed and rounded up in Kenya and the semi-autonomous enclave of Puntland following deadly bombings by Al Shabaab in Uganda. Authorities in Puntland have also been deporting Somalis, but so far Kenya has not, it said. [ID:nLDE66MOKZ]

    Al Shabaab, which is linked to al Qaeda, controls much of southern Somalia bordering Kenya and is fighting to topple the Western-backed government in the lawless Horn of Africa nation.

    Saudi Arabia deported 1,000 Somalis in June and nearly 1,000 so far in July, Fleming said. The majority have been women who said they had worked in Saudi Arabia for some time. The deportations to Mogadishu had been going on for at least a year.

    Most deportees say they fled Somalia due to conflict, violence and human rights abuses, according to reports received from its local NGOs.

    “Prior to their deportation, they report being held in detention facilities for several weeks under conditions which many described as appalling,” Fleming said.

    Saudi Arabia, the top OPEC oil producer, is not among 144 countries that have signed the 1951 Refugee Convention obliging states to protect civilians fleeing conflict or persecution.

    But by deporting Somalis, it has flouted UNHCR’s guidelines issued last May urging all countries to return Somalis to central and southern Somalia only on a strictly voluntary basis until it is safe to return, according to the agency.

    “As we all know, this has not been the case in Somalia for almost 20 years,” Fleming said.

    Dozens of civilians have been killed and scores wounded in fighting this week in Mogadishu, she said.

    The death toll has been driven up in the first seven months of this year by increased shelling and fighting in the central region, a human rights group said on Thursday. [ID:nLDE66S1RY]

    After Afghanistan and Iraq, Somalia is the country generating the highest number of refugees, fleeing the conflict, economic collapse and drought, according to the UNHCR.

    There are now 600,484 Somali refugees, mainly in Kenya, Yemen, Ethiopia, Eritrea, Djibouti, Tanzania and Uganda, plus 1.4 million Somalis displaced within the country, it says. (Editing by David Stamp)


  5. Garowe Online (Garowe)

    Somalia: New Row Emerges in Somali Parliament

    4 August 2010

    Several Somali legislators held meeting in Somali capital Mogadishu to defend the Somali Parliament speaker Sharif Hassan against accusations leveled against him by some of their colleagues.

    “The Parliament has rules that will punish any legislator who does not attend the meetings without reason and any member who says he will not attend the meetings will meet that law,” said legislator Omar Islow who was addressing the media.

    The legislators who met on Monday accused the Somali President Sheikh Sharif Sheikh Ahmed of not doing anything about the situation in the house, vowing not to attend the parliament meetings until the presidents.

    They argued that some of the clauses, including that of implementing Sharia Law in the country, where passed without proper procedures.

    “There is new motion against the government, that the Prime Minister to face the Parliament and ask for vote of confidence, if he doesn’t get the vote for the government, then a new Prime Minister must be appointed, “said Omar Isilow.

    He adds that they are expecting the government to respond over the motion.

    The lawmakers, who met Tuesday, have allegedly close relation with the Parliament speaker Sharif Hassan Sheikh Aden, and he is using them to defend the Prime Minister.

    The new disagreement within the parliamentarian has disrupted the house business and its likely that it will continue so long as the government avoids to face the vote of confidence.


  6. UN Integrated Regional Information Networks

    Somalia: Fasting Month Brings More Fear, Costlier Food

    13 August 2010

    Nairobi — With the start of Ramadan – the Islamic holy month characterized by fasting – residents of Mogadishu are facing a difficult economic situation as well as the prospect of more fighting and shelling, say civil society sources.

    “The economic situation in which most residents find themselves is appalling,” a civil society activist, who requested anonymity, told IRIN on 12 August. “Many cannot afford to buy the basic necessities, but the biggest factor this Ramadan is fear as it has become normal practice for the warring parties to increase fighting during Ramadan.”

    The upsurge in fighting between government troops and Islamist insurgents makes it “nearly impossible for most people to go out”, he said, adding that most of those affected were people who could cope the least. “These are the daily labourers, the women who have to clean homes or businesses or the men doing odd jobs.”

    He said the prices of basic foods had gone up by 30 percent since last week and may rise even more. He appealed to Somalis in the diaspora to increase their support this month: “If you were supporting one family, add one more this month. They have no one else.” Already, he said, the fighting had rendered many areas of the city inaccessible to those who could help affected families.

    Safety first

    Asho Abdi, a mother of six in the Somali capital, said prices of food and other commodities had gone up in the markets, limiting her purchasing power. “Our income can only go so far and these traders don’t care,” she said. However, Abdi’s main worry was safety. “Every time I go to the market I don’t know whether I will return to my children; I have to tell them who to call and what to do if I don’t return,” she said. “That is every day. That is our life. I wish they would stop fighting at least for this month and give us some relief.”

    Supply squeeze

    Fadumo (not her real name), a trader in the city, told IRIN the reason prices were rising was limited supplies.

    “Many of the big traders have left and those who remain are not bringing in goods because of the difficulties of dealing with different groups,” she said. Sugar, oil and flour “have risen up to 30 per cent but rice and other items rose about 20 percent not more”.
    She added that both the government and insurgents wanted to apply a tax and “even after you have gone through this your goods are not safe from their bombardments. Who wants to invest in this?”

    For years now, Mogadishu has been the battleground between troops loyal to the Transitional Federal Government (TFG), backed by African Union peacekeepers, and two Islamist insurgent groups, one being Al-Shabab, which now controls much of south and central Somalia. Fadumo urged the parties to the conflict to call a ceasefire, “at least through the holy month of Ramadan, so people can worship in peace”.

    However, the activist said he saw no chance of that. “The insurgents think that if they don’t continue fighting the government will view it as a weakness or it will allow government forces to organize,” the source said. The government, for its part, feels it has to defend itself from the insurgents and push back, he said, adding that “it is a vicious cycle and the population is the main loser even during Ramadan”.


  7. US swears in new Africa chief

    GERMANY: The US military command responsible for military intervention in Africa swore in a new commander today.

    Army General Carter Ham, a former commander in Iraq and most recently the top US army officer in Europe, is taking charge of Africa Command, succeeding the retiring General William Ward.

    The Stuttgart-based Africa Command, created in 2008, is responsible for US military operations in most of Africa, including Libya — which has no formal military-to-military relations with the US.



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