Killings: Conflict during the year involving the government, militias, AMISOM forces, and al-Shabaab resulted in the death and injury of civilians and caused the displacement of many others.
Authorities in Puntland executed al-Shabaab members without due process. On April 30, the Puntland administration executed 13 convicted al-Shabaab members and supporters, including Ahmed Said Mohamed, brother of commander Mohamed Said “Atom.” A Puntland military court sentenced them on March 21.
Fighting related to the formation of the Jubba Region killed as many as 80 persons.
On May 15, approximately 500 elders and representatives from the regions of Lower Jubba, Upper Jubba, and Gedo convened to elect leadership for the then unrecognized “Jubbaland State.” They selected the leader of the Ras Kamboni militia, Ahmed Mohamed Islam “Madobe,” as president. Clans opposed to him organized militias. During June and July, fighting between the Ras Kamboni’s militia and those of clans opposed to him caused civilian displacement and reportedly more than 80 civilian casualties. The fighting mostly occurred in the city of Kismayo, Lower Jubba region. On August 27, the federal government and Jubbaland delegates signed an agreement that resulted in the federal government’s formal recognition of the newly formed Interim Jubba Administration.
Al-Shabaab continued to kill civilians, including politically motivated killings that targeted civilians affiliated with the government, and attacks on humanitarians, NGO employees, the UN, and diplomatic missions. They often used suicide attacks, mortar attacks, and improvised explosive devices. Al-Shabaab also killed prominent peace activists, community leaders, clan elders, and their family members for their roles in peace building, and beheaded persons it accused of spying for and collaborating with Somali national forces and affiliated militias.
Al-Shabaab attacks included, but were not limited to, an April 14 attack on the Mogadishu Supreme Court complex that killed at least 34 persons and injured 58 more, a June 19 attack on the UN compound in Mogadishu that killed 22 persons, a September 7 attack on the Village Restaurant in Mogadishu that killed at least 18 civilians, and a November 8 car bomb attack at a hotel in Mogadishu that killed 10 persons. During the April 14 incident, nine al-Shabaab members attacked the Supreme Court complex. A separate car bomb struck a Turkish aid group responding to the court attack.
International forces and fighting between international forces and al-Shabaab killed civilians. According to reports from local authorities, AMISOM soldiers inadvertently killed eight civilians on January 15 while repelling an al-Shabaab ambush in Leego, Lower Shabelle Region. On September 1, fighting between Ethiopian forces and al-Shabaab in Gansahdere, Bay Region, resulted in the death of approximately five civilians. The heavy fighting also allegedly injured many civilians and destroyed private property.
Abductions: Somali civilians and other foreign nationals were abducted, and at year’s end several of them remained captive. On May 27, al-Shabaab members crossed the border from Lower Jubba into northern Kenya, where they attacked two police bases. The militants killed four civilians and two policemen during the attack and kidnapped another two police officers who remained in al-Shabaab’s custody. On June 16, al-Shabaab tweeted pictures of the two abducted policemen.
Physical Abuse, Punishment, and Torture: Reports continued that government forces and allied militias committed sexual violence, including rape, against women in and around Mogadishu IDP camps.
There were several casualties involving land mines and other unexploded ordnance. Land mine incidents were prevalent in the Mudug Region. For example, on August 10, a landmine exploded in a field in Gelinsoor Village and killed three children.
Child Soldiers: Reports of child soldiers in the national security forces, government-allied militias, and al-Shabaab continued. There continued to be reports that the government detained children allegedly associated with al-Shabaab.
To prevent recruitment and use of child soldiers the Somali National Army screened more than 1,000 new troops. In view of the absence of established birth registration systems, it was often difficult to determine the exact age of national security force recruits. The European Training Mission provided training to 262 new recruits sent to Bihanga, Uganda, where they underwent interviews and screening. The screenings in Bihanga identified no recruits as children.
The national army lacked a sufficient number of military barracks to house all its soldiers. 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 continued that families, including soldiers’ children, were sometimes present in the “camps.”
Implementation of the government’s action plan with the UN to end the recruitment and use of children by the national army remained limited. Two child soldier focal points worked with United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) throughout the year to communicate claims of underage children present in military barracks.
There continued to be reports of children in the country’s numerous clan and other militias. Ahlu Sunnah Wal Jama’a/Central (ASWJ/Central) cooperated with UNICEF and had continuing programming in Dhusmareeb that transferred suspected child soldiers to rehabilitation programs.
According to Human Rights Watch, 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. Additionally, al-Shabaab used children in support roles such as carrying ammunition, water, and food; removing injured and dead militants; gathering intelligence; and serving as guards. According to the UN, al-Shabaab recruited children as young as eight years old from schools and madrassas. The organization sometimes used children to plant roadside bombs and other explosive devices. Somali press frequently carried accounts of al-Shabaab indoctrinating children at schools and forcibly recruiting students into their ranks.
There were isolated reports of children used in noncombatant roles by AMISOM forces.
There were isolated reports of children in Somaliland forces.
Other Conflict-related Abuses: Armed groups, particularly al-Shabaab, but also government forces and militia, deliberately restricted the passage of relief supplies and other items indispensable to the survival of the civilian population or humanitarian organizations, particularly in the southern and central regions. In its July report, the UN Monitoring Group on Somalia and Eritrea stated, despite improved access in certain areas of the country, access to vulnerable civilians remained a challenge for the humanitarian community, and all parties in the country continued to obstruct the provision of humanitarian assistance.
Small-scale diversion of World Food Program wet food commodities, with suspected government involvement, occurred. Government, allied militia, and Kenyan Defense Forces reportedly looted and collaborated in the diversion of humanitarian aid. Government-allied militia and police fought among themselves over the sharing of looted aid.
On August 10, Puntland authorities prevented a ship carrying food items provided by the Turkish Red Crescent from docking in the port of Bosasso, in Bari Region, and ordered the ship to return to Mogadishu. Authorities allegedly did this with the consent of President Abdurahman Mohamed “Farole.” Earlier that month Puntland authorities announced a suspension of cooperation with the federal government.
There were multiple reports that humanitarian access to the contested territories of Sool and Sanaag, between Somaliland and Puntland, was restricted. NGOs reported incidents of harassment from local authorities in both Somaliland and Puntland.
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, expulsions, and prohibition by al-Shabaab. International aid agencies increasingly relied on Somali staff and local organizations to deliver relief assistance in these areas.
On August 14, Doctors Without Borders announced the closure of all its programs in the country. The organization stated its departure resulted from insecurity and cited the death of 16 members of its staff since 1991 and dozens of attacks against its staff, ambulances, and medical facilities. In January an appellate court ordered the release of Ahmed Salad Farey from jail less than a year after he was convicted for the killings of two employees of Doctors Without Borders. The Supreme Court ordered his re-arrest, but this did not occur by year’s end.
As a result of al-Shabaab’s humanitarian access restrictions, taxation on livestock, failed water redistribution schemes, and insecurity, many residents in al-Shabaab-controlled areas fled their homes for refugee camps in Kenya and Ethiopia and IDP camps in other areas of the country. Al-Shabaab attempted to restrict these movements.