Reports of the harassment by Ethiopian troops of Ethiopian Oromos residing in southern Somalia are increasing.
Source: United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA)
Date: 12 Jan 2007
Somalia: Situation Report - 12 Jan 2007
Military operations, including the recent US air strikes on southern Somalia, have further complicated humanitarian access to populations in need of assistance. Humanitarian activities have been largely suspended since the conflict between TFG/Ethiopian and ICU forces began on 19 December. Of serious concern is the lack of information on the health and nutrition situation in south/central, as even local partners currently in-country are experiencing restricted movement, making assessments are impossible. The lack of information makes planning provision of assistance difficult. It is clear, however, that the health situation is critical. There is an urgent need to send to south/central Somalia medical specialists who can carry out diagnostic tests and perform surgeries. Mobile clinics are currently at a standstill in Jilib, Jamame and Buale, while residents are themselves afraid to travel to hospitals for fear of harassment or bombardment. Agencies are reporting that because of security concerns in certain areas of south/central, food distributions and provision of NFIs have been suspended. Further, if in-country humanitarian supplies (medical, NFIs, shelter, etc) become exhausted, the danger arises of resulting gaps due to the lack of new supplies entering Somalia.
The air strikes have reportedly resulted in unknown numbers of civilian deaths in the nomadic area bordering Kenya. Local communities are reporting large livestock losses in Ras Kamboni and Kilbui as a result of the strikes. Such losses threaten or destroy the livelihoods of many nomads and pastoralists in the area who depend on livestock for their survival.
Reports of the harassment by Ethiopian troops of Ethiopian Oromos residing in southern Somalia are increasing. Within the last week, a number of incidents have occurred. The body of an Oromo man was found dumped in Mogadishu, and there have been several reports of soldiers stopping buses traveling from Mogadishu to Jowhar and arresting Oromos onboard. An Oromo man traveling from Mogadishu to Bossaso was shot dead near Jowhar, and two men in his company were arrested. In Qoryooley (Lower Shabelle), eight Oromo men were arrested by military troops. There are fears that the targeting of Oromos may be spreading to Puntland (where they currently constitute the majority of asylum seekers), with unconfirmed reports received of the arbitrary arrest of Oromos in Galkayo. Local Oromo leaders were heard on radio in Somalia during the week urging the Somali authorities to protect them from the Ethiopian military.
Reports of revenge killings and politically instigated killings continue. There have also been reports in recent days of arrests by TFG forces of militia who had set up checkpoints in Mogadishu and of suspected ICU members in Mogadishu. Additionally, on 9 January, TFG forces reportedly arrested 7 Pakistani men who were preaching in a mosque in Mogadishu. The men are said to be members of the Tabligh (preaching) religious group, which operates legally in many countries, including Kenya. Some residents reportedly protested the arrests.
Militia continue to create insecurity. Unidentified militia are said to be still on the road between Mogadishu and Lower Shabelle, robbing and harassing travellers. In Afgoye (30km south of Mogadishu), the newly formed TFG administration imposed a curfew on 10 January. The curfew was announced after local militia reportedly exchanged fire in the town that morning.
Reports from 11 January indicate movement out of Mogadishu, with 100 people going to Hargeisa (Somaliland). These people are thought to be families of businessmen who supported the ICU and thus fear revenge attacks in Mogadishu. Additionally, about 290 people – mainly women and children – are reported to be moving from Mogadishu to areas near Liboi on the Kenyan border, citing tension and insecurity as the cause.
Following the recent movement of 1,000 people from Ras Komboni (Lower Juba) to Kiuga (Kenya), another boat carrying 200 Somalis attempting to offload at Kiuga was refused by the Kenyan authorities. The people are said to have gone instead to Kismayo. Additionally, about 100 people have been displaced within Kismayo district due to clan conflict. It is not clear whether the clan conflict is related to fighting between the TFG/Ethiopian forces and the ICU. Meanwhile, conditions in the Kismayo IDP camps are reportedly getting worse, with overcrowding and tension increasing.
IDPs who fled the village of Gendershe (30km from Mogadishu) to Jilib and Merka during the first week of January are returning home, despite continuing tension in the area.
There has been further movement reported towards Dhobley on the Kenyan border, with unconfirmed numbers coming from Hayo (near Afmadow). Meanwhile, the 4,700+ IDPs from south/central Somalia already in Dhobley remain there, awaiting humanitarian assistance and unable to cross into Kenya due the GoK's closure of the border. Despite the fact that humanitarian relief has been unable to reach these IDPs – and the fact that they are complaining of harassment from the Ethiopian army – the IDPs are thought unlikely to return to their places of origin, because of fear of conflict or because their homes were destroyed by floods. Meanwhile, a planned joint UN-GoK mission that was to take place this week has been delayed until next week.
UNICEF and Save the Children-UK have today called attention to eyewitness accounts of children having featured prominently in recent fighting as active combatants. The agencies state that children are also being recruited to fight by emerging warlords. They call upon all armed groups to release children from their ranks or from detention centres, and request that the TFG and Somali institutions take all necessary steps to ensure that these children are, without discrimination, adequately cared for and safely reunited with their families.
Access and Response
The Humanitarian Coordinator (HC) for Somalia was in Mogadishu 10-11 January, where he met with the TFG President and Prime Minister, as well as members of civil society. He also visited prisons and hospitals. The HC stresses the importance of acting now in the form of high-impact activities prioritizing: security/law and order, education and back-to-school programmes, livelihood support, the situation of IDPs residing in public buildings and settlements, and insitutional capacity building.
This week, some UN agencies and INGOs flew international staff to Wajid (the only airstrip currently open for passengers and cargo in south/central) and commenced distribution of assistance. The Therapeutic Feeding Centre of ACF is functioning and ACF distributed BP5 to 8,500 children under 5 years in Wajid, while World Vision has distributed 821mt of food in Buale and Wajid and another 174mt to the school feed programmes in Buale.
The Kenyan border remains closed, compounding access problems, with trucks carrying relief supplies stuck in no man's land between the Kenyan and Somali borders. As roads in Somalia have dried following the flooding, these trucks, were they allowed to enter the country, would be able to deliver some assistance. Road transport inside Somalia is proceeding without incident.
For further information, contact:
Molly McCloskey (mob: +254 727 659 100) or Rita Maingi (mob: +254 722 334 671)Office tel: +254 (20) 375 4150-5