Somaliland: Urgent investigation needed as fighting takes heavy toll on civilians

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Human Rights organisation Amnesty International has called for intervention and a probe to be conducted amid a security crisis facing Somaliland.

According to the organisation, up to more than 100 people have been killed and over 600 injured, including dozens of civilians, amid fighting between Somaliland security forces and armed fighters affiliated with the Dhulbahante clan in Las Anod.

Amnesty International indicated that Somaliland security forces have, over time, ‘’indiscriminately shelled the town, damaging hospitals, schools and mosques, killing and injuring civilians, and displacing tens of thousands of people.’’

In its statement, the organisation said humanitarian groups have reported that between 154,000 to 203,000 people were displaced to neighbouring towns and villages, while some crossed the border to Ethiopia and are now in need of urgent humanitarian assistance. Those worst affected are women, children, and older people.

“All parties to the conflict in Las Anod must end indiscriminate attacks, commit to protect civilians and respect the rules of international humanitarian law. Hospitals and ambulances should never be targeted. There must be an independent investigation into all human rights and humanitarian law violations to ensure accountability for those responsible and reparation for victims,” said Tigere Chagutah, Amnesty International’s Regional Director for East and Southern Africa.

Chagutah added: “This humanitarian crisis is compounded by the effects of the ongoing, devastating drought in the region. All parties must allow and facilitate humanitarian organizations’ unfettered access to civilians in need of assistance in Las Anod and other affected areas.’’

From 6 February to 6 March, Amnesty International interviewed 37 people in Las Anod, including victims, victims’ relatives, witnesses, doctors, and humanitarian workers. The organisation also analysed casualty numbers from five local hospitals in Las Anod and reports from the media, NGOs and the Somaliland government.

Civilians killed include women, children, older people with health conditions, and healthcare workers.