SJHR has noted that there have been many initiatives against human rights violations in Somalia including our own initiatives as a young dynamic rights organization in the country.
In our country Somalia, there are many human rights violations which were down to downscaling human rights and protection awareness and funding.
Efforts of human rights organizations were hampered by shrinking space and lack of empowerment through leveraging with transfer of initiatives from international to national and sub-national levels.
Funds with which would be used for sensitization and outreach programs as well as for awareness through the media were tied with lengthy paper work of applications and proposal writing which bear no results for almost whoever applied!
Meanwhile in Somalia violations of human rights are common daily ordeals. They include mega violations such as killing and maiming as well as violations many ignore as less sensitive violations [but which are very harmful] such as FGM, child labor, and denying girl child education where parents cite that daughters will be married off hence will move with their education to elsewhere; they are not taken to school but kept at home to do household chores.
Sooner than later they are married off to old men so that parents can get wealth meaning money and/or livestock.
FGM denies girls their health; they feel pain during menstruation, during sexual intercourse and during child delivery.
Unborn children have right to live; too many children who would be born are aborted prematurely while still fetus in Somalia; children born and killed and disposed off is a common issue reason being stigma which comes with such a child when they were born out of wedlock.
However, in Islam, the religion in Somalia people know the problem is not for the child but the parents who relaxed together out of wedlock; if such a child grows they are stigmatized despite the fact that Islam prescribes respect for such a person just like any other human being.
Mass displacement of people -hundreds of thousands were displaced from Afgoye corridor, an important passage in between Mogadishu, the capital city and Afgoi agricultural town; other IDPs were displaced from their places of origin and were IDPs in Somalia’s capital Mogadishu, at Badbado camp and others where they faced harassment denial of food aid by gatekeepers and business people who sell their food in Mogadishu markets.
Women and girls are raped by armed groups; some of the IDPs in Mogadishu were once again displaced from the IDP camps with short notice by influential people who said they owe the land.
They went to as far as Sarakusta area, the outskirts of the city. Similar displacements took place in Bossaso and Galkayo.
During the recent clashed, many IDPs in Galkayo were once again displaced. The IDPs situation is sickening in the country; there are more than one million IDPs in Somalia many of them minorities such as Bantus who are traditionally riverine communities along Juba and Shabelle rivers and other farming communities, men and women who would be the production implements of the country.
Resilience in Somalia cannot be built and droughts and hunger cannot be averted because people who would produce food for the population were made destitute themselves!
In human rights work, recommendations for redress are important. Proper implementation of the recommendations is important as well.
There is no action that is too small. It’s time for each of us to stand up for human rights wherever you are; you can make a difference.
Together, let’s stand for humanity.
On Nov 23, 2016 SJHR reported that there were clan conflicts in Hiiraan. Such recurrent clashes between communities are not good to be heard at all. It is shameful and it is sickness and should stop once and for all.
In the month of November, many Somalis who fled the droughts coupled with conflicts have fled Somalia. They have gone to as far as Dolo Addo in Ethiopia. MSF confirmed that many of those refugees have crossed the border and reported to MSF medical centre at Dolo Addo.
Those people including vulnerable people such as women and children as well as elderly people have been forced to flee their country. They are already suffering because of the drought with no water and pasture for their livestock and without food for themselves and then armed groups fight in them and inflict them casualties and make them destitute. This is unfortunate as Somalia doesn’t need more fighting after more than a quarter century of civil war. That is inhumane and should stop.
In Khatumo similar conflicts erupted in between Somaliland forces and Khatumo forces and it harms civilians there and so should be stopped once and for all. Already people have started fleeing their homes in Sool for fear of dear life and persecution.
Earlier on many civilians have lost their lives in the recent fighting in Galkayo between Puntalnd and Galmudug forces and many others were wounded while a lot of the civilians were displaced and their lives disrupted. There should be no more war in Galkayo. SJHR calls the parties involved to avert any clashes there as they do NO good at all. They instead harm civilians and don’t create good impression of the country and the nation at all. They portray negativity and should be shunned.
More Somalis alongside other people from Africa still continue to flee.
Hundreds have made to Italy safely but others were drowned in the high seas as they were using rickety boats trying to get to Europe escaping persecutions at home and looking for better life in Europe in which they are not sure. Nobody can assure them better life there as already Europe was flooded by refugees and immigrants and resources have already been overstretched.
In November alone, IOM reported that hundreds of immigrants lost their lives off the coast of Libya. At the sea waters off the coast of Egypt other immigrants drowned these included Somalis trying to escape the war in Somalia and looking for better life abroad.
133 bodies were recovered following an incident where their boat capsized on the 19th of November in the waters off Burqa Rashiid, Rosetta District, and 250km from Cairo. At the time, so far IOM reported that some 3200 immigrants died in the Mediterranean Sea alone.
IOM: Migrant Deaths Reach New Height in 2016-[18 December2016 migration day]
An average of 20 migrants died on migratory routes every day in 2016 – far surpassing numbers from previous years, according to the International Organization for Migration.
More than half of the nearly 7,200 deaths counted this year occurred in the Mediterranean Sea on routes to Greece, Italy, Cyprus, and Spain, according to a report released by the IOM Friday.
The significant increase in deaths in the Mediterranean is particularly striking because the overall number of migrant arrivals in Europe has declined sharply since last year – from 883,393 in 2015 to 357,249 this year, according to the IOM.
But the numbers in Central America, the United States-Mexico border region, and Northern and Southern Africa have surpassed migrant death tolls from previous years as well. IOM recorded a total of 5,740 migrants as dead or missing in 2015, and 5,267 in 2014.
The IOM estimates that as many as 300 more migrants could die by the end of this year if trends continue, but also states that having a precise count is difficult. A correction to the report has already been made for the Mediterranean death toll since Thursday evening (15th Dec 2016), citing information that another 88 people were feared missing after a boat reportedly sank off the coast of Libya.
Six civilians killed in Qoryoley, Lower Shabelle
Six civilians were killed on the outskirts of Qoryoley town by unidentified armed group on Saturday night [17thDec].
Their mini bus, make Hommy was hit with rocket propelled grenade on their way from Qoryoley town towards Baidoa in the nearby region of Bay. They were transporting vegetables.
They were including both men and women. An eyewitness told the media that the deceased were usual vegetable traders who ferried the vegetable to different regions in southern Somalia.
No group immediately claimed the attack.
AU, UN launch Somali operation to restore supply routes
The African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM) and the United Nations Support Office in Somalia (UNSOS) have jointly embarked on an operation to open up key supply routes in HirShabelle region in central Somalia.
AMISOM Sector 5 Commander Venuste Nduwayo said the operation dubbed Antelope Operation is already underway and will restore more than 150 kms of roads in the agricultural region of Somalia.
“This project’s objective is repairing the roads in this region to enable free movement not only for AMISOM but also for the Somali population,” Nduwayo said in a statement issued in Mogadishu on Saturday.
The two organizations intend to open the roads in the region to help the military get access to Forward Operating Bases (FOB) in the sector that is under the Burundi contingent.
Major Raymond Kemei from the Mission Enabling Unit said the rehabilitation and opening up of the roads will help the local population move their crops from farms to the markets.
He added that the rehabilitated routes will enable the local population to move freely while the security agencies will be able to respond to emergencies much faster.
Kemei also noted that humanitarian agencies will also get access to populations in areas that have been cut off from the road infrastructure.
The rehabilitation works began on Dec. 1 after the Special Representative of the Chairperson of the African Union Commission (SRCC) Francisco Madeira met the president of HirShabelle to discuss matters of security and infrastructure.
AMISOM VEHICLES CRASH TO DEATH A MOTHER AND FIVE CHILDREN AT EL-WAREEGOW AREA NEAR MARKA
On Saturday afternoon 17th December 2016, AMISOM convoy of vehicles killed a woman and five children at El-wareegow area near Marka town, Lower Shabelle Region of Somalia.
The commissioner of Lower Shabelle confirmed the incident and criticized the indiscriminate act of killing those innocent civilians. This followed after explosives planted on the roadside went off. With anger, the AMISOM soldiers rammed their vehicles into a nearby informal settlement where poor people including the deceased women and children were living killing the women and the children on the spot.
The father of some of the deceased children who SJHR opts not to mention his name for his safety purposes said the mother and the children were in their house when the AMISOM vehicles were rammed into it leaving them dead.
He added the AMISOM soldiers fired gunshots even though any casualties resulting from the bullets fired remain unclear.
The commissioner of Lower Shabelle and other Somali stakeholders were devastated by the incidents where AMISOM solders murder or harm civilians [by shelling or hitting them with vehicles or executing them].
There have been widespread corruption and threatening in the Somali elections this year. Envoys were threatened and money exchanged hands. Few people lost their lives during the elections in different places.
In the South-west and Galmudug there were widespread corruptions, blackmail, and women were denied of their seats. All those methods could affect negatively the transparency and the legitimacy of the entire electoral process.
Women’s Quota Not Reserved
Asha Haji Elmi, a Somali elite and a politician accused the president of Galmudug of obstructing her against vying for a seat in the lower house.
She said three seat of the lower house were set aside for her community of which due to the women’s quota one of the seat would go for a woman. She had the intent to vie for the seat but was accused of having been a long serving parliamentarian and was denied of her right to contest for that seat. She said that was unsuitable justification.
“Abdikariim said I have been on the seat for 16 years; that is not a problem. On the other hand, those who were elected for the Somali parliament now and those who will be elected include many who have been in parliament for 16 years’. Said Asha Haji Elmi.
‘It is not a prerequisite for one to be told she served such a time so she cannot contest”. She said.
“The president of Galmudug made himself my signatory and took the position of the representative elder of my community. It is something that is astonishing”. Asha said.
The Federal Government of Somalia was on many occasions blamed for involvement into mismanagement of the elections of the lower house. Despite this, Asha Haji Elmi said she was not aware of any involvement of the federal government in the obstruction of her quest to vie for the seat.
‘What I can blame are the government of Galmudug and the electoral commission. I don’t know about the role of the federal government in this but what I know and realize as well as say is the involvement of the president of Galmudug and the electoral commission“.
She noted that envoys were meant for seat but not for a person. ‘They say the envoys of so and so’.
She said envoys electing the parliamentarians were being associated with particular candidates. ‘The 51 envoys should elect the suitable candidate for the particular seat‘.
She pinpointed that it was illegitimate to give the entire envoys to one candidate. She said consequently, her community emerged the only community that hasn’t given a seat to a single woman and that she was the only female who complied with all the prerequisites needed by her community but was denied her rightful seat.
Recommendations for Redress
- Due to the downscaling human rights and protection awareness and funding, human rights and protection awareness should be enhanced with funding and empowerment of Somali human rights organizations including Somali Journalists for Human Rights [SJHR] which is doing an amazing work for the betterment of the human rights protection across Somalia.
- Leveraging of human rights initiatives should be done with transfer of international human rights initiatives from international to national and sub-national levels so that they can be localized to create ownership and belonging among the Somali nationals.
- Funds with which would be used for sensitization and outreach programs as well as for awareness through the media that were tied with lengthy paper work of applications and proposal writing which bear no results for almost whoever applied should be released by donors including but not limited to Somali Humanitarian Fund [SHF formerly CHF and EU] for the speeding up of the sensitization and the outreach programs! Instead of denying empowerment to Somali local NGOs through tedious processes of proposal writing and forcing them partnerships of bigger NGOs including but not limited to international NGOs with no harmonized interests, they can be empowered through sub grants and seed grants.
- In as much as we focus the addressing of the mega violations such as killing and maiming as well as violations we should not ignore less sensitive violations [which are also very harmful] such as FGM, child labor, and denying girl child education where parents cite that daughters will be married off hence will move with their education to elsewhere; they are not taken to school but kept at home to do household chores. All rights should be protected.
- Unborn children have right to live; too many children who would be born are aborted prematurely while still fetus in Somalia; children born and killed and disposed off is a common issue reason being stigma which comes with such a child when they were born out of wedlock. That constitutes to murder and we shall strive to avert such killings through abortion and the disposing off through human rights awareness.
- Rape and displacement of vulnerable people should be avoided as well as all other forms of human rights violations. Profiling of IDPs and other vulnerable groups with no durable solution to their plights is not time wastage only but senselessly inhumane. This should be avoided by all stakeholders including humanitarian organizations and NGOs. It is often more of paper work and more talk and less action. This is myopic especially when you know you have an alternative to better the situation but you willingly reject to act!
- In human rights work, recommendations for redress are important. Proper implementation of the recommendations is important as well. We shall therefore not hesitate from implementing action points with proper timelines without further bureaucratic impediments further complicating the situation.
- Resilience in Somalia cannot be built and droughts and hunger cannot be averted because people who would produce food for the population were made destitute themselves! Somalia has about 1.1 million IDPs according to UN statistics. Many of these people were farming communities from the arable regions in between and around the two rivers of Juba and Shabelle. We should stop the protracted war and should have political compromise for people to settle and farm. One of the causes which make African economies fragile are endless wars like the one in Somalia. If you are a Somali, stop it; if you are a foreign fuelling this, have some mercy for humanity.
To mention a few of the project we have been implementing:
|We have started a monitoring project in which we are monitoring protection issues in Somalia. Since last year we have monitored different abuses against civilians and specifically vulnerable people in the different regions in Somalia. We have written many reports on the protection updates in the country. At the end of each such report we have given recommendations on how best those problems could be addressed;
|We have come up with programs addressing or elevating the plights of civilians including
iii) trainings and workshops on how to report on protection issues
|We have set up a committee for protection against GBV and general protection [CPGGP].
The committee comprises of increasing number of staff members who have different professions and skills suitable for the protection against GBV. The committee also works on general protection meant for vulnerable people such as women, children, the elderly and the IDPs as well as refugees. Currently, we have six committee members who work on general protection and two anti-GBV activists. CPGGP heavily depends on users’ involvement and contribution as they shape the future strategy of the organization and help to sustain some key programs. Their views are incorporated into the strategic plans and therefore, the service outcome is directly relevant to the needs of the users.
|Awareness against Female Genital Mutilation (FGM). This includes media information campaign and outreach on the hazards of FGM.|
|Livelihood restoration program for the IDPs in Mogadishu and Puntland especially in Garowe and Bossaso towns. Apart from the normal assistance for the IDPs with food and non-food items donated by well-wishers, we distributed start up capital for tens of IDPs in those areas so that they could start small scale businesses. In future, we will try to increase the number of beneficiaries once we get funds from donors as this project was cited as very efficient in terms of improving the livelihoods of IDPs in the mid-term future.
|Mapping project/IDP Profiling: This is a survey program which we visit IDP camps and other locations in which vulnerable people live so as to talk to them and know exactly what their needs and concerns are. Once we know their plights we team up with other like-minded organizations and well-wishers so as to find ways of assisting those people in trying to overcoming those problems that are facing them.
|Assisting refugees with special protection cases to get referrals for durable solution i.e. resettlement in a third country for safety purposes. There are many urban refugees from Somalia in the Kenyan capital, Nairobi where they feel destitute and at the same time live in well-founded fear from a future persecution. They cannot go back home to Somalia; they cannot live in either Dadaab Refugee Camps or Kakuma Refugee Camp. Even though, these are individuals with special cases, they add up to form a large group of vulnerable people who are distressed and whose futures are shattered. We would like to volunteer and assess their cases before referring those who don’t have other options to organizations that can work on their durable solutions.
Since SJHR has started actively working on human rights and protection in Somalia, things have improved in our country.
We realize that there is a realization in Somalia to protect the rights of all including the rights of the vulnerable people such as women, children, the elderly people, the disabled persons, the IDPS, the refugees and the minorities.
This is an impact for us. We have so far gotten a lot of support from well wishers and partners who realized our determination and the innovative ways combined in which we try to assist humanity from Somalia level.
We at SJHR have indeed a lot to tackle or do in the arena of protection and human rights. Issues with regard to violations do not stop there. The awareness and the determination to better the situation in our country have to go on and on.
There are a lot of action points for us just like any other partner and likeminded organizations. One of the areas which really needs a lot of awareness and addressing is the one which overshadowed the entire world the year 2016-immigration.
We are sure at Somalia level, a country which has been devastated by a war in the last 26 years and whose people are among those who continuously immigrate, we have something to offer to curb the problem right at the source.
To give just a tip of the iceberg, raising the level of awareness on the plights associated with this madness and addressing the root causes are marvelous. Period! We try these priceless efforts and welcome the assistance of any more partners who are dedicated to alleviate the problems.