UN Panel Investigates Rampant Violations of Arms Embargo and IHL Breaches in Las Anod – Urgent Sanctions Called for!

Warning: Confirmed report of potential violations of international law in Las Anod

The United Nations Panel of Experts on Somalia has unearthed a report that investigates potential breaches of international humanitarian law (IHL) and longstanding arms embargo in the escalating conflict in Las Anod. The confidential report points to several key players from Northern Somalia’s Ministry of Defence and the National Army who played a major role in the hostilities in and around Las Anod. The report recommends sanctions under resolution 1844 (2008) for violators.

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The probe is in its primary stages as investigators gauge whether weapons and ammunition used in the conflict have violated the arms embargo imposed on Somalia. The panel has received footage that reveals civilian buildings being destroyed in indirect attacks by rockets and light and medium mortars. Moreover, preliminary investigations suggest that ammunition boxes, rockets, and mortars, some of which might have originated from China, France, Yugoslavia, Bulgaria, and Ethiopia, may have been used in the conflict. Of particular concern is the continued uncontrolled proliferation of weapons in the area, as well as the risk of unexploded ordnance (UXO), which could pose significant risks to civilians and may be repurposed by non-state armed groups like Al-Shabaab for improvised explosive devices (IEDs).

The Panel is also investigating instances of possible violations of IHL and international human rights law (IHRL), prompting fears of obstruction of humanitarian aid and health workers. The situation has taken a catastrophic turn with over 210 deaths and 680 injuries reported in Las Anod by March 2, 2023, and a major humanitarian crisis brewing on account of a blockade of humanitarian and explosive ordnance disposal teams by Northern Somalia authorities. Injured individuals and health workers indicate that the main roads to the town are blocked, requiring detours through mountainous terrain. As a result, UN personnel have been unable to enter the area or offer needed aid.

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