Target: Somali President Hassan Sheikh Mohamud
Goal: Protect the internally displaced peoples (IDPs) of Somalia from sexual violence, starvation, beatings, and various forms of ethnic discrimination in Mogadishu
The new Somali government plans to relocate tens of thousands of internally displaced peoples (IDPs) into the capital of Mogadishu during the next few years. Thousands of IDPs have already descended upon the war-torn city, however, due to the widespread famine plaguing the Somali countryside. Ongoing drought, constant fighting, and increased “taxation” have all contributed to the influx of displaced populations entering Mogadishu. Nevertheless, serious human rights abuses have been reported within the confines of these IDP camps, largely perpetrated by the security forces, militiamen, and clan leaders who exercise de facto leadership over these camps.
Between July 2011 and November 2012, during the height of the drought, hundreds of thousands of IDPs left the country. An estimated 75,000 Somalis, however, descended upon Mogadishu. These tens of thousands of vulnerable migrants have been subject to rape, beatings, and ethnic discrimination. And unfortunately, because they don’t have any social support systems, many of these Somalis have nowhere else to turn to.
Multiple IDP camps dot Mogadishu, and for many of the displaced, it’s a daily struggle to even stay alive. Not only are there daily reports of rape and beatings throughout these camps, but IDPs are regularly denied access to food, clean water, and other basic necessities that come via humanitarian aid. Additionally, security forces have also placed restrictions on movement, inhibiting the ability of IDPs to protest.
Oftentimes, the managers of the camps, or “gatekeepers” as they’re called, help control the camps’ security forces and militias. Nevertheless, the most serious human rights abuses are often committed by the security forces and militia groups who “guard” the camps. Furthermore, since the gatekeeper oversees the distribution of humanitarian aid throughout the camp, much-needed resources instead go to clan leaders, rather than the IDPs.
One of the most alarming and frequent human rights abuses that have taken place throughout these camps have been the instances of sexual violence. Displaced women and children face a significantly higher risk of rape in Mogadishu than other vulnerable groups. Also, if victims approach authorities, they fear reprisal from the perpetrators or clan leaders who run the camp. For example, a victim’s father lamented, “We don’t know anyone here, we are new to Mogadishu. So we didn’t try to go to justice, because the commander was harassing us at the time my daughter was raped. So how can I trust anyone here? We must keep silent.”
The Somali government must intervene and stop the sexual violence, ethnic discrimination, and mistreatment of IDPs throughout Mogadishu. Sign this petition to help stop this cruel and horrific state of affairs.
Dear Hassan Sheikh Mohamud,
Your administration must address the human rights abuses occurring throughout many of the IDP camps in Mogadishu. Not only are women and children regularly raped by security forces and militiamen, but these displaced Somalis also face various forms of ethnic discrimination and numerous challenges just getting basic humanitarian aid. Furthermore, the women and children who are victims of this sexual violence rarely approach authorities, since the perpetrators are often linked to the security forces or militiamen who run the camp. In one particularly tragic case, a man whose daughter was raped by four uniformed men felt he couldn’t approach authorities. If he did, the perpetrators, who were most likely camp militiamen or security guards, would most likely seek to harm his family.
These security forces and militias are often associated with a particular clan who run each camp. In many cases, these clan leaders exercise de facto leadership over IDP camps. There must be more supervision of these camps in order to ensure that humanitarian aid is given to the people who need it most, there are less instances of sexual violence, and there is an end to ethnic discrimination, along with other forms of mistreatment.
[Your Name Here]
Photo Credit: DFID – UK Department for International Development via Wikimedia Commons