UN: Rape is now “part of the game” in brutal Somali conflict – Nairobi_(dpa)

December 7th, 2007 Print Print Email Email

Sexual violence against women in the Somali capital Mogadishu has reached an unprecedented level, with women raped at checkpoints and during the day in front of bystanders by all parties to the vicious conflict, the United Nations said Friday. (more…)

Sexual violence against women in the Somali capital Mogadishu has reached an unprecedented level, with women raped at checkpoints and during the day in front of bystanders by all parties to the vicious conflict, the United Nations said Friday.

The UN children’s agency UNICEF said rape was becoming an “instrument” used by EthiopianWoyanne-backed government troops and insurgents, a new trend in the 17-year conflict, which has worsened dramatically since the New Year.

“Sexual violence and rape are part of conflicts in most parts of the world but we have not seen it on the level as we are seeing it now in Mogadishu,” said Christian Balslev-Olesen, the UNICEF representative for Somalia.

“Sexual violence and rape is part of the game.”

An aid worker based in the bullet-scarred capital said EthiopianWoyanne troops, in Mogadishu since the New Year and so embroiled in the conflict they cannot withdraw, cordon off areas after an attack, loot whatever they can and rape women left behind.

Women attempting to flee the violent capital, part of the exodus of 400,000 since the start of the year, are being raped at checkpoints and roadblocks run by the government or pro-government militias.

“The lack of respect for basic humanitarian principles is alarming and horrific,” Balslev-Olesen said, adding that wounded women and children are often left to die in the streets.

Balslev-Olesen said gathering figures on the number of rapes in the capital was difficult, with few international staff based there and many local aid agencies fearing repercussions from the government should they report such numbers.

He said figures collated from different relief agencies showed at least 50 women were raped in the last month.

Children meanwhile are being recruited into militias, with 80 per cent of schools in Mogadishu closed down because of the violence. Some 31 children have been killed on their way to school this year.

EthiopianWoyanne-backed government troops swooped into Mogadishu at the New Year, ousting a popular Islamist group and sparking a persistent insurgency that has killed thousands.

Somalia was plunged into anarchy after the 1991 toppling of dictator Mohammed Siad Barre by warlords. dpa tg wjh

Copyright (c) dpa Deutsche Presse-Agentur GmbH

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