Somali Diaspora Network (SDN)
Phone: (703) 888-5409
Fax: (703) 891-9120
April 25, 2007 (FAIRFAX, Virginia, U.S.A) — The most recent shelling and indiscriminate bombardment by US supported Ethiopian occupation forces and the Somali Transitional Federal Government (TFG) Warlord militias in densely populated civilian neighborhoods and major markets in Mogadishu has caused a severe humanitarian crisis in Somalia. Hospitals, schools, and mosques did not escape this indiscriminate bombardment. Most recent reports estimate that approximately 2,000 lives were lost, more than 7,000 people were wounded, and close to one half million people were forced to leave their homes even as they endured tremendous suffering. The United Nations Somalia Humanitarian Chief, Eric Laroche, warned of a “catastrophe” in Somalia, and the New York-based Human Rights Watch said in a recent statement: "There are concerns that thousands of residents and displaced people outside the city of Mogadishu are without vital humanitarian aid, including water, food, and shelter."
The displaced civilians are scattered across the outskirts of the city without shelter, food, water, medical care and sanitation facilities. Diseases such as diarrhea and cholera are rapidly spreading. Particularly vulnerable are displaced children, the sick, and the elderly. The city is devastated and deserted. Rotting corpses some dismembered and others decapitated have been left on the streets. Hospitals and homes are full of wounded and maimed civilians and very little medical care is available. While fleeing the horror of the city, many young Somali women have been abducted, tortured, and raped by the Ethiopian occupation forces and their allied Warlord militias. Many parents, fearing this brutality by the Ethiopian occupation forces and the Warlord militias, are keeping their daughters in war-ravaged Mogadishu rather than sending them out of the city to safety. In light of the plight of the displaced civilians, the TFG Prime Minister, Ali Gedi, has just called for the remaining residents to evacuate the city, and has again affirmed the Ethiopian and the TFG leadership position to continue their devastating shelling and bombardment of Mogadishu.
On April 12, 2007, the United Nations Resident & Humanitarian Coordinator for Somalia, wrote a letter to TFG Prime Minister, Ali Gedi, about the deplorable actions by the Ethiopian occupation forces and the Warlord militias including death threats, all manner of abuse, and intimidation against aid workers. The TFG Warlord militias and the Ethiopian forces have even extended these terrorizing tactics to food and emergency aid. Recently, they impeded efforts by the World Food Programme (WFP) to deliver food and emergency aid to the thousands of displaced civilians. "The 320 metric tones of food returned to the capital this week after the convoy was turned back at a TFG Warlord militia checkpoint," said Stephanie Savariaud, spokesperson for the WFP in Nairobi. Other aid organizations have reported similar incidents by the TFG Warlord militias. Representatives of these organizations have highlighted numerous instances of intimidation, obstructionism, and outright refusal of humanitarian aid for displaced civilians.
The humanitarian crisis is further exacerbated by the closing of borders, ports and airports by neighboring countries to the fleeing refugees. In addition, Somali refugees are turned back forcefully in breach of international laws and norms. Specifically, the Kenyan government has prevented thousands of desperate refugees from crossing its border and has forcefully handed over many to the Ethiopian occupying forces and the TFG Warlords to be imprisoned and tortured. This escalation and cruelty has produced an immense humanitarian crisis, which is indescribable in proportion. We urgently appeal to humanitarian organizations and the international community to protect the refugees from the ravages of this desperate and dangerous situation, and to promptly send food, water, shelter, medicine and other essentials to the affected areas. The African Union Ugandan Peacekeepers have shown a complacent attitude toward the carnage and the suffering of the Somali people. They continue to be irrelevant and ineffective force in light of the genocide that is taking place in front of their eyes. If the international community continues to ignore this carnage, the situation in Somalia will rival the tragedies in Rwanda and Darfur.
The Somali Diaspora Network strongly condemns the Ethiopian and the TFG Warlords for the wholesale carnage of innocent civilians and their illegal terror tactics of using collective punishment, and their denial of food and emergency aid to their victims. The international community must immediately intervene to stop the war, the genocide, and the humanitarian crimes being committed against the Somali people. This current brutal campaign by the Ethiopian occupation forces, including mass massacre, shelling, forced displacement, abduction, rape, torture, and ethnic cleansing of innocent civilians in a city as large as Mogadishu, is more brutal and far-reaching in its speed and effect, than the brutality currently in place in Darfur, Sudan. We call for an immediate investigation of these despicable crimes of genocide by the Ethiopian forces and the TFG Warlords.
We applaud the European Union’s positive initiative to investigate war crimes committed by the Ethiopian forces and the TFG Warlords. However, we are deeply disturbed by the continued silence of the international community at large. Of particular concern is the silence of Ban
Ki-moon, the Secretary General of the United Nations, and that of the United States Government, and the blind support they lend to the TFG war criminals. The most current carnage follows a visit to Somalia by US Assistant Secretary of State for African Affairs, Jendayi Frazier. In her visit, Ms. Frazier praised both the Ethiopian and the TFG Warlord leadership while ignoring the war crimes perpetrated by the same leaders, and the plight of the Somali people. We believe that the Assistant Secretary’s praise and support of Ethiopia and the TFG Warlord leadership has contributed and fueled the current mayhem and madness in Somalia.
Again, we appeal to the international community to put pressure on the Ethiopian government and the TFG Warlords to immediately and unconditionally cease all hostilities, and to withdraw all Ethiopian forces without any condition or delay. Furthermore, we urge the US Government to re-examine its policy toward Somalia and to stop supporting the illegal occupation of the Ethiopian forces and the TFG Warlords. This blind support of the unpopular and criminal Warlords and the illegal Ethiopian occupation is not only counterproductive to the US interest and efforts on the war on terrorism, but it is also a sure recipe for failure and the continued suffering of the Somali people.
ABOUT SOMALI DIASPORA NETWORK (SDN) – SDN is a grass-roots organization
committed to advocate and lobby on critical policy matters pertaining to Somali-American interests and issues of concern through communication and information sharing, raising public awareness, and educating the public and government officials.