BBC News – 2007-11-26 22:05:40
‘One Million’ Homeless in Somalia
(November 20, 2007) — The figure includes 60% of Mogadishu residents who have fled their homes — 200,000 in the past two weeks — leaving many districts empty, says UNHCR.
People have been forced out by renewed conflict between Islamist insurgents and Ethiopian-backed government forces.
Kenya’s government has been strongly criticised for deporting 18 failed Somali asylum-seekers. “They are being sent to die,” a rights worker said.
Meanwhile, the UN Security Council says it will continue to plan for a peacekeeping mission to Somalia, despite the secretary-general’s opposition.
Ban Ki-moon said earlier this month that it was too dangerous to send troops to the war-torn country.
He instead urged countries to help the existing African Union mission.
On Saturday, Islamist insurgents armed with machine guns and grenades attacked the AU base in Mogadishu. Only Uganda has sent troops to the AU force.
‘Against the law’
UNHCR says those who have fled to the Afgooye area, 30km from Mogadishu, are living in desperate conditions. They are using plastic bags and rags to patch up their flimsy mud and straw huts.
UNHCR says landowners are charging them $1.5 a month for a tiny plot of land to erect their shelters. The refugee agency says 600,000 people have fled Mogadishu this year — on top of 400,000 displaced by earlier rounds of fighting.
A Kenyan human rights group has strenuously condemned the deportation of 18 failed asylum-seekers back to Mogadishu.
Alamin Kimanthi, who heads the Muslim Human Rights Forum, said police forced the women and children into a plane destined to Mogadishu, despite their protests.
They are part of a group of 50, whose requests for refugee status were rejected in Uganda. The other 32 are being held at Nairobi’s Jomo Kenyatta airport.
“We condemn the decision to deport these people to Somalia because it is clear that they are just being sent to die,” Mr Kimanthi told the BBC News website after visiting the airport.
“It is against the law and we call on the international community to act on this situation.”
After discussing Mr Ban’s report, the Security Council “underlined the need to continue to actively develop contingency plans for the possible deployment of a peacekeeping force as part of an enhanced UN integrated strategy in Somalia”, said its president, Marty Natalegawa from Indonesia.
South Africa’s UN ambassador Dumisani Kumalo said the situation in Somalia was “heart-breaking”.
“The UN has to find a way to go in there,” he said, according to the AP news agency. “The [UN] Charter says maintain international peace and security everywhere,” he said. “It doesn’t say except in Somalia.”
Somalia has not had an effective government since 1991.
Violence has intensified this year after Ethiopia helped the government oust the Union of Islamic Courts last December.
In Mogadishu, Ethiopian and government troops conducted door-to-door searches for insurgents in the capital over the past week, sparking deadly clashes.
The United Nations says some 170,000 people fled the violence last week and hundreds of others have been injured in the crossfire.
Displaced in Somalia: Faduma
(November 14, 2007) — Mother-of-two Faduma, 22, has lived in a camp for displaced people in central Mogadishu since she fled south from Baidoa seven years ago.
I actually returned to Baidoa in April this year when there was heavy fighting here in Mogadishu but I came back recently because my husband was hit in his face by a stray bullet and so I had to look after him.
We have a lot problems — no food, no medicine and we can’t just walk to go and find these things. We don’t feel safe. There are children sick in our houses.
When the children get sick we have no medical facility to go to so we just recite the Koran – or we use a traditional burning method where you give a small burn on a different part of the body depending on what sort of sickness the baby has. Or we try herbal medicine.
There are a few hospitals near our camp but they don’t accept us because we don’t have money.
Rape They only take the most serious cases, like the wounded or gunshots.
A DISPLACED LIFE
My own child died of diarrhoea. In the last year though it has been a little better and fewer children have died from diarrhoea but it will get worse when the rains start.
There is a lot of rape. One woman in our camp was gang raped. Some men came in from outside, took her baby from her and gave the baby to the father, and then three men raped her.
I even heard of a 70-year-old woman who was bound and raped by a man with a knife when she was walking to the tailor. It is terrible. We don’t know of any treatment; we can’t go anywhere for help.
During the fighting, six months ago, there was an increase in the number of rapes.
But since the transitional federal government said no-one could walk around at night the number of cases has decreased.
This is because it is not so easy anymore to enter our camp after dark.
We don’t go out because of security.
We don’t even go to the toilet at night. We now take bedpans into our shelters because if you walk to the latrines at night you will surely be raped after midnight.
The main problem with the camp though is that it doesn’t have gates and so anyone can just come in and out.
Just be kind
In our camp none of the husbands have divorced their wives after being raped because everyone knows it is not the woman’s fault.
AFRICA HAVE YOUR SAY
Ethiopia should pull out its troops before it is too late, they are part of the problem not part of the solution
— Mustafa, Leicester
She will be ok, people don’t look badly on her.
There are not those sorts of problems here because sometimes women are even raped in front of her father, husband, family and baby and they cannot stop it.
The biggest problem is that she doesn’t wake up the next day. She just lies down and doesn’t wake up.
We live in a small area — roughly a space of four metres by four metres and in this space there are three to four families.
When a woman is raped everyone is aware because you can hear the woman screaming.
So we go to her afterwards but there is little we can do. We don’t have guns, you can just be kind.
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