Somalia: Report Highlights AMISOM Failure to Protect Civilians

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Thursday June 01, 2017 - 18:07:56 in Latest News by SomaliUpdate Staff Reporter
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    Somalia: Report Highlights AMISOM Failure to Protect Civilians

    MOGADISHU (Somali Update Online) — A new report by an international non-governmental organization highlights that many Somalis hold views that are very critical of the peacekeeping mission, especially about its failure to protect civilians, a n

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AMISOM soldier searches children and adult people attending Eid Prayer in Mosque. | File Photo.
MOGADISHU (Somali Update Online) — A new report by an international non-governmental organization highlights that many Somalis hold views that are very critical of the peacekeeping mission, especially about its failure to protect civilians, a new report on AMISOM mission in Somalia said.
The report by the International Refugees Rights Initiative (IRRI) launched on Wednesday, focuses on the civilian perspectives on the African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM), whose mandate has been recently renewed. This report is based on interviews with 62 Somalis and is the third in a series on civilian perspectives of peacekeeping forces in Africa.
Many Somalis also do not understand about some of the troop-contributing countries and about peacekeeper abuses as citizens struggled to understand the mission’s mandate and often had difficult relations with the mission, the report finds.
With 64 Somalis interviewed by the group’s report expressed their discontent with the results achieved by AMISOM, especially its failure to protect civilians against attacks by Al-Shabaab and other armed groups. Its limited results were contrasted with its decade-long presence in the country. AMISOM was created in 2007, and gradually developed into a force with a maximum of 22,126 troops, mandated primarily to reduce the threat posed by Al-Shabaab and to provide security to government institutions and humanitarian actors.
AMISOM MANDATE
Other citizens acknowledged the positive achievements by the mission and the difficult context in which it has to carry out its mandate. While large swathes of the territory are still vulnerable to attacks by Al-Shabaab and other violence, important security gains have been made. Over the years, AMISOM troops have made serious sacrifices.
The report mentions there was a clear lack of understanding among Somalis as to AMISOM’s mandate. While most knew that AMISOM is tasked to conduct offensive operations against Al-Shabaab and to protect government institutions, other aspects of the mandate were far less known. This lack of proper understanding of the mandate contributed to severe criticism by some, especially those living in areas with high levels of insecurity. Several respondents told IRRI that they felt the mission had been unable to provide protection of civilians, which, although not part of their mandate, is a matter of concern for the mission.
"The AU and UN should ensure that protection of civilians is a central objective of the AU peace operation and that it has the capacity and resources to do so,” said Andie Lambe, Executive Director of IRRI. "It should go without saying that the AU and the UN should ensure that the voices of citizens who live in the midst of the conflict are taken into account, which unfortunately does not appear to have been the case.”
A common observation was that AMISOM fails to sustain its gains against Al-Shabaab. Inhabitants of the city of Marka, for example, complained about the lack of follow-up when their town was taken over by AMISOM. The poorly trained and equipped national security forces could not defend the town, and it therefore shifted hands multiple times between Al-Shabaab and AMISOM/government forces, accompanied by reprisals by Al-Shabaab against civilians accused of collaborating with the latter.
ABUSES COMMITTED BY AMISOM
Those interviewed testified about abuses committed by AMISOM forces, including sexual violence, arbitrary detention, incidents leading to the deaths of civilians and the discrimination against Somalis working for the mission. IRRI was unable to independently verify most of those allegations, but observed a strong deterioration of the perception of the mission by victims of abuses or their families. This was further reinforced by a perception that no credible investigations had taken place and that no perpetrators had been brought to justice. While several mechanisms were set up to deal with such abuses, it seems that there was a lack of awareness of these mechanisms among those affected. 
According to the report authors, there was no response from AMISOM officials when requested a meeting and a letter with a summary of the report’s findings sent to them.

- SOMALI UPDATE ONLINE -


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