UN refugee agency alarmed by resumption of mortar attacks in Somalia

Somali civilians on the grounds of a ruined cathedral in Mogadishu in August 2011. Photo: UNHCR/S. Modola

20 March 2012 – The United Nations refugee agency today expressed concern over the resumption of mortar attacks in the Somalia capital of Mogadishu, which led to the deaths of at least four internally displaced persons (IDPs), including two children.

Mortars landed in a small IDP settlement in the Wardhigley district on Monday morning, marking the first attack of its kind since August when anti-government forces withdrew from the majority of districts in the capital.

“The target of the attack is believed to have been a hostel housing pro-government forces in the nearby Villa Somalia compound, the presidential palace, but the mortars did not reach their target and instead landed among the IDPs,” spokesperson for the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) Adrian Edwards told journalists in Geneva.

“UNHCR calls on all parties to the conflict in Somalia to cease attacks targeting civilians and humanitarian agencies or where there is a high risk of harm to civilians located near the intended target. Monday’s attack clearly presented an unacceptable risk,” Mr. Edwards said.

Currently, there is no international legal obligation for parties to the conflict in Somalia to make amends to civilians that have been affected by military operations.

Last year, UNHCR released a report detailing what Somalis are seeking in response to violence and focusing on assistance for civilians harmed in warfare. The report, entitled “Civilian Harm in Somalia: Creating an Appropriate Response,” recommends the establishment of a mechanism to track, analyze, investigate and respond to all incidents of civilian harm, including the loss of property, limb or life.


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