Killings: Fighting during the year involving the TFG/government, its allied forces, and African Union (AU) forces against al-Shabaab resulted in the death and injury of civilians and caused the displacement of many others.
On August 8, the TFG signed an action plan with the UN to end the killing and maiming of children.
Fighting between Somali forces killed civilians. On June 19, a clash involving Somali forces near Mogadishu’s milk factory in the Hodan District killed two civilians in a makeshift IDP camp. Camp residents alleged the fighting stemmed from a disagreement over ownership of a house.
Al-Shabaab’s use of mortar attacks in Mogadishu and improvised explosive devices (IED) injured or killed civilians during the year. Al-Shabaab also attacked public markets, killed humanitarian workers and other civilians, and carried out attacks on government officials.
For example, al-Shabaab claimed responsibility for the April 4 bombing of the national theater where the TFG prime minister and several other government officials were attending a ceremony. The attack killed eight people, including Somali Olympic Committee Chair Aden Yabarow Wiish and Somali Football Federation Chief Said Mohamed Nur (Mugambe).
On April 10, an explosive device packed in an ice box in a Baidoa food market detonated, killing 13 and wounding 40. The victims were almost entirely female traders, street vendors, and customers.
On August 27, al-Shabaab in Merka killed Food and Agriculture Organization staff member Yassin Mohamed Hassan. Al-Shabaab killed 10 other persons that day before evacuating Merka in the face of an AMISOM/TFG offensive.
International forces and fighting between international forces and al-Shabaab killed civilians.
On January 9, artillery fire exchanged between AMISOM and al-Shabaab resulted in the death of a Muslim cleric and wounded scores of civilians after Mogadishu’s Alhidaya mosque was hit in the crossfire. It was unclear which side had fired the errant rounds.
On January 15, Kenyan fighter jets conducting air strikes on the town of Jilib, Lower Juba, against al-Shabaab reportedly resulted in the death of seven children when a missile landed in a house. Results of an investigation were not made public.
Human Rights Watch called on the government of Kenya to investigate civilian casualties that occurred during an August 11 shelling by Kenyan naval ships of al-Shabaab antiaircraft artillery installations in Kismayo. Naval shells reportedly hit the houses of and killed two boys and a pregnant woman.
According to Human Rights Watch, TFG-allied militias committed summary executions and torture in the towns of Beletweyne and Baidoa early in the year after capturing the towns from al-Shabaab. For example, Shabelle Valley Alliance (the Hiraan governor’s militia) members forcibly entered a building that housed members of the Takfir Islamic sect and abducted five men on February 8. The militia took the men to a nearby bridge where they shot and killed four of them. The report also cited sources that stated Ethiopian troops and militia members arbitrarily detained persons in the towns.
Abductions: Humanitarian workers were abducted during the year; at year’s end several of them remained captive.
For example, on June 29, unknown gunmen attacked a Norwegian Refugee Council convoy in Kenya’s Dadaab refugee complex, killing a driver on the spot and kidnapping four international staff. Kenyan and Somali forces rescued the four aid workers on July 2 in Alibule.
Physical Abuse, Punishment, and Torture: The number of reports of TFG forces and allied militias committing sexual violence, including rape, against women in and around Mogadishu IDP camps increased compared to the previous year.
There were many cases throughout the year of abuses, including harsh punishment, by al-Shabaab in areas under its control. In February in Baidoa, Bay Region, Ethiopian and Somali forces found human remains in the cellar of the city’s central police station, suggesting al-Shabaab used the facility for torture and killings.
More cases involving land mines and other unexploded ordnance were reported than in previous years.
On February 27, a land mine blast at a soccer stadium in Mogadishu killed five to 10 fans watching a match between two neighborhood teams.
On July 18, in Baidoa, a mine left behind by al-Shabaab exploded and killed six children who were playing with it.
Child Soldiers: Reports of child soldiers in the national security forces and allied militias continued. Given the absence of established birth registration systems, it was often difficult to determine the exact age of national security force recruits. There continued to be reports the TFG detained children it believed to be associated with al-Shabaab.
The SNA continued to employ screening methods to prevent the recruitment and use of child soldiers. New SNA recruits who received training by international partners outside of Somalia before being inducted officially into the SNA were interviewed and medically screened before being sent to Bihanga, Uganda. These SNA recruits were also subjected to multiple levels of vetting, including interviews and medical screening in Bihanga. The screenings in Bihanga identified 15 individuals out of 581 new recruits in 2012 as too immature for training.
The SNA lacked a sufficient number of military barracks to house all its soldiers. SNA soldiers often lived in their own homes with their families. The Mogadishu military “camps” that did exist were not clearly defined or demarcated and did not prevent family members from entering the camps. Reports that families, including soldiers’ children, were sometimes present in the “camps” continued.
On July 3, the TFG signed an action plan with the UN to end the recruitment and use of children by the SNA. The child soldier focal point positions, vacant after the government replaced the TFG, were filled by year’s end.
There continued to be reports children were included in the country’s numerous clan and other militias. ASWJ/Central cooperated with UNICEF and had ongoing programming in Dhusmareeb that handed over suspected child soldiers to child soldier rehabilitation programs. ASWJ/Gedo forces integrated with the SNA and had its troops vetted by an international team comprised of senior SNA generals, international military advisors, and a technical monitor.
The use of child soldiers by al-Shabaab continued. According to HRW, children in al-Shabaab training camps underwent grueling physical training, inadequate diet, weapons training, physical punishment, and religious training, and had to witness the punishment and execution of other children. Al-Shabaab used children in combat, including by placing them in front of other fighters to serve as human shields, and also used them as suicide bombers. In addition, al-Shabaab used children in support roles such as carrying ammunition, water, and food; removing wounded and killed militants; gathering intelligence; and serving as guards. According to the UN, al-Shabaab recruited children as young as eight from schools and madrassas. These children were sometimes used to plant roadside bombs and other explosive devices. Somali press frequently carried accounts of al-Shabaab indoctrinating children at “dugsi” or schools and forcibly recruiting students into their ranks.
Before al-Shabaab’s expulsion from Kismayo, Baidoa, and Merka during the year, al-Shabaab forced boys 15 and older to fight or be executed.
On January 22, al-Shabaab abducted and inducted at least 200 boys in Afgoye during a public gathering.
Al-Shabaab forced high school students from Kismayo into fighting the AMISOM offensive in southern Somalia between May and June.
Other Conflict-related Abuses: Armed groups, particularly al-Shabaab but also national forces and militia, deliberately restricted the passage of relief supplies and other items indispensable to the survival of the civilian population or impartial humanitarian organizations, particularly in the south and central regions. A July 2011 report of the UN Monitoring Group on Somalia and Eritrea described the security context and humanitarian operational environment facing aid agencies as being “among the most prohibitive in the world.” Nine humanitarian personnel were killed, one was wounded, and four were kidnapped during the year. Humanitarian access was generally good in the Somaliland and Puntland regions, including the contested territories of Sool and Sanaag, although NGOs experienced various levels of harassment from local authorities in both Somaliland and Puntland.
Small-scale diversion of WFP wet food commodities, with suspected TFG involvement, occurred. TFG, allied militia, and KDF forces reportedly looted and collaborated in the diversion of humanitarian aid. A KDF commander allegedly received medical aid equipment from a local NGO and sold the equipment in Kenya, splitting his profits with the local NGO.
TFG-allied militia and police fought among themselves over the sharing of looted aid. There was a reported increase of looting by national forces in Afgoye after the transfer of federal power in September.
During the weekend of April 7 and 8, Yusuf Mohamed Siad’s (Indha Adde) militia fired upon Turkish development workers who were trying to enter the Digfer Hospital to begin a site survey for its rehabilitation. The TFG did not arrest Siad.
In prior years most international aid organizations evacuated their staff or halted food distribution and other aid-related activities in al-Shabaab-controlled areas due to killings, extortion, threats, harassment, and expulsions. International aid agencies increasingly relied on Somali staff and local organizations to deliver relief assistance there.
In January the ICRC announced it was temporarily suspending delivery of food assistance intended for more than a million people from Mogadishu to areas under al-Shabaab control. This suspension resulted from al-Shabaab blocking ICRC commodities in parts of central and southern Somalia, and in January al-Shabaab revoked the permission of ICRC to operate in its areas of control for distributing what it claimed was contaminated food unfit for human consumption. On January 30, al-Shabaab subsequently burned 2,000 metric tons of ICRC rations in Merka. On March 13, al-Shabaab issued the same ban against Save the Children for distributing expired porridge.
On October 8, al-Shabaab banned the Islamic Relief aid agency from working in areas under its control for “repeatedly failing, despite persistent warnings, to comply with operational guidelines” and for covertly extending the operations of banned organizations, particularly WFP.” Islamic Relief warned a ban would jeopardize its work providing food, water, sanitation, health care, and support for income generation to 1.3 million people and denied any connection to WFP.
As a result of al-Shabaab’s humanitarian access restrictions, taxation on livestock, and failed water redistribution schemes, many residents in al-Shabaab-controlled areas fled their homes for refugee camps in Kenya and Ethiopia and IDP camps in Puntland, Somaliland, and TFG/government-controlled areas. Al-Shabaab attempted to restrict these movements.
On June 4, in Ceel Adde, Gedo Region, al-Shabaab destroyed the town’s only water pump. Residents speculated the action was an attempt to force residents to urge the KDF and TFG troops to leave the area. In August al-Shabaab also destroyed water pumps in the Afgoye area in response to an AMISOM offensive on Merka.