Outrage at peacekeepers’ abuses against Somali girls, women

Hiiraan Online
Tuesday, September 9, 2014

NAIROBI, Kenya (HOL) — Somalis across the world have expressed outrage, dismay and anger at a new report that accuses African Union peacekeepers in the country of raping Somali women — and even pre-teen girls — and using humanitarian aid and money to buy sex on military bases.

“Amisom must leave Somalia,” shouted Ahmed Said in a comment posted on the popular Hiiraan online website, referring to the AU mission in Somalia. “My Southern brothers you must restore our lost” dignity.

Said, a Somali student in India, said the foreign peacekeepers in the country would only bring humiliation and indecency to the country and nothing else.

Other Africans, who use social media, have also chipped in, with some calling rapist soldiers as “animals” who deserve to have their penis hopped off. Some even blamed their countries for not teaching troops about good manners.

“Cut off the particular dicks,” said  Zoba Nweke from Nigeria, commenting on the BBC’s Africa facebook story about the AU force’s rape and sexual exploitation of Somalia women and girls.

In a statement on Tuesday, the African Union said it is “concerned” by the report’s content, promising to investigate the allegations “thoroughly” and to take “appropriate measures” against the perpetrators.

Somalis and rights groups have in the past accused the AU force in the Somali capital, Mogadishu, of human rights violations as well as indiscriminate shelling of residential areas that killed hundreds of civilians.

But the volume of the new abuses has shocked Somalis across the globe.

“They’are not peacekeepers, but rapists. Shame on you, you so-called peacekeeping mission,” said Koshin Olad, in a post on Hiiraan.com.

In a comment on the BBC Somali service facebook, Abdi Kreem Ali, urged the Somali government to take action against the African peacekeepers in the country, or endure “a long lasting effect in the country.”

The 71-page report by the New York-based Human Rights Watch particularly accuses Ugandan and Burundian forces within the AU mission of raping women seeking treatment at their facilities, saying that “sexual exploitation is not a secret at AMISOM’s Mogadishu bases,” where soldiers routinely pay teenage girls for sex.

The group’s research focused on incidents in Mogadishu, where Ugandan and Burundian soldiers are present, but also noted that it “does not preclude the possibility that similar abuses have occurred elsewhere.”

The report, released on Monday in the Kenyan capital, Nairobi, says AU peacekeepers have also “subjected women and girls to other abuses and exposed them to serious health risks.”

“Several women described being slapped and beaten by the soldiers with whom they had sex,” said the report. “Others said that soldiers had refused to wear condoms, passing on sexually transmitted infections.”

Ironically, Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni said in 2012 that his force’s success in Somalia was “due to Uganda’s ideology, discipline, training and political solidarity.”

“During the liberation struggle, operational etiquette never tolerated members of the force who spoilt the dignity of women,” Museveni told Ugandan soldiers due to be deployed in Somalia.

Nevertheless, the presence of Ugandan forces in Somalia were not without flaws. In fact, they were accused of selling weapons and fuel to Somali civilians, including agents from the militant group of al-Shabaab that is hell bent on ejecting all foreign forces from the country.

Abdiwahab Sheikh Abdisamad, a horn of Africa analysts, who earlier this year urged the 22,000-strong force to quit Somalia before it is too late, said if the allegations are confirmed, the force must carry out “full, independent investigation and bring perpetrators to book.”

Many Somalis look African peacekeepers with suspicion because of what they say is the force’s focus on sustaining the status quo to avert losing hefty remunerations.

But AU peacekeepers have indeed lost thousands of soldiers since their arrival in the country in 2007, and have since succeeded in kicking out fighters from the militant group of Al Shabaab from Mogadishu.

“Who can trust AU troops to act morally,” said Wellen Dowd in a comment on aljazeera.com “They don’t in their home, and cannot be expected to do so in another country”

Another person who calls himself, Yaaalif,  sarcastically said: “Next time don’t complain when Al Alshabbab or any individual Somali retaliates…..u create terrorists out of innocent people.”

Source: Hiiraan online.

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