IRC, Fellow Humanitarian Agencies Express Concern Regarding an Upsurge in Fighting in Somalia
Twenty-four humanitarian aid organizations, including the International Rescue Committee, have expressed concern about the upsurge in fighting in South/Central Somalia. Today they issued the following statement:
As humanitarian agencies working in Somalia for many years, we are deeply concerned about a renewed intensification of the conflict and military action in South/Central Somalia. We are deeply concerned that key stakeholders seem to have given up on working towards a peaceful diplomatic solution. Based upon our experience of supporting people affected by the conflict, we wish to underline the devastating effects that a significant surge in fighting has on the civilian population.
We call upon all parties to the conflict to: 1) Comply with their obligations under International Humanitarian Law with respect to the conduct of military operations, and the safeguarding of the lives and dignity of the civilian population. Particular attention must be paid to the principles of Proportionality and Distinction. 2) Permit unimpeded access of humanitarian aid to the civilian populations in need and to ensure that all humanitarian workers, medical staff and hospitals are protected. 3) Allow civilians who choose to flee from conflict areas to do so in safety.
We furthermore urge the international community to: 1) Strengthen all efforts to find a peaceful solution to the conflict. 2) Underline to all parties to the conflict that they have duties under International Humanitarian Law and monitor the progress of fighting to ensure that these obligations are being upheld. 3) Ensure that the protection of civilians is prioritised in the planning and implementation of any military action, that civilian casualties are minimised and that any humanitarian consequences are addressed appropriately and sufficiently.
Respect for the life and dignity of all persons who are not taking a direct part in hostilities is of paramount importance. Civilians must on no occasion be directly targeted by parties to the conflict and furthermore must be protected from the indirect impact of fighting.
Even without an upsurge in conflict, the humanitarian situation in Somalia is acute. Nearly half the Somali population, 3.2 million people, are in need of life-saving assistance. Millions of vulnerable people are living in deplorable conditions, lacking even the most basic items needed for daily survival. Further intensification of the conflict will lead to additional deterioration of the humanitarian situation and will force more Somalis to flee their homes. Initial reports suggest that more than 8,000 people have already been displaced since the start of February.
In spite of extremely difficult and hazardous operating conditions, humanitarian agencies are striving to provide aid to the civilian population of Somalia, according to the humanitarian principles of humanity, impartiality, neutrality and independence. We attempt to prevent and alleviate human suffering and work on the basis of need and without distinction according to nationality, race, religion, social position, political conviction, or other affiliation.
Kaalo Relief & Development
Médecins du Monde France