US should not hurt civilians or repeat previous abuses underneath new Somalia mission: rights group

NAIROBI, Kenya- As the United States prepares to redeploy a whole lot of troops to Somalia, it’s working to reduce hurt to civilians, guarantee justice for abuses and deal with defending civilians first, mentioned mentioned Human Rights Watch (HRW) on Friday.

“Previous U.S. military operations in Somalia have resulted in loss of life and property to Somali civilians that the United States has neither recognized nor provided reparations,” the rights group mentioned in a report.

Washington has been concerned in navy operations towards al-Shabaab, an al-Qaeda-affiliated terrorist group, in Somalia since no less than 2007, with US airstrikes growing considerably in 2017.

However, within the final month of his presidency, former President Donald Trump ordered round 700 US troops out of the East African nation.

In a significant coverage reversal carried out on the behest of the Pentagon, his successor Joe Biden accepted the redeployment “to enable a more effective fight against al-Shabaab, which has grown in strength and poses an increased threat”, in keeping with the White House.

The troops to be despatched to Somalia will come from present deployments within the area and may have carried out what the White House referred to as “episodic” missions within the nation after Trump stepped down in January 2021.

Laetitia Bader, HRW director for the Horn of Africa, mentioned US officers have to be “very clear about how their forces will avoid harming Somali civilians during military operations.”

“They will need to work closely with Somali and African Union authorities to avoid repeating past violations of the laws of war and to respond quickly and appropriately to civilian casualties,” she confused.

Culture of impunity for civilian casualties

HRW identified that “considerable loss of civilian life in US airstrikes and joint operations, including attacks that were apparent violations of the laws of war” have been documented.

During the earlier deployment, the U.S. navy “denied numerous incidents of civilian harm,” in keeping with the report.

The rights group mentioned it recorded two US airstrikes in February and March 2020 “that killed seven civilians in apparent violation of the laws of war”.

“While the United States Africa Command (AFRICOM) admitted accountability for the February 2 incident, which killed a lady and injured her two sisters, two youngsters and her grandmother, none of them didn’t obtain compensation,” the report mentioned.

HRW urged the US navy to “correct its course and ensure it takes all allegations of civilian harm seriously and credibly investigates them.”

“A culture of impunity for civilian casualties breeds resentment and distrust among the population and undermines efforts to build a more rights-respecting state,” Bader mentioned.

“The US government recognizes the need to credibly investigate and compensate civilian harm, but the military has yet to make this a reality.”​​​​​​​

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