Ethiopian troops accused of perpetrating atrocities

By staff writers
17 Jan 2007

Ethiopian soldiers occupying Somalia have been accused of raping Somali woman, according to reports circulating among church and development NGOs in the region. Observers are waiting for details to be confirmed.

Northern Aid, an organisation based in Nairobi, has been monitoring the Kenya-Somalia border area. According to UK-based Christian Aid, the NGO's director, Abdulahi Abdi, said: "We talked to people across the border last night. We heard from Dobley [18km inside Somalia] that girls are being raped by invading forces, the Ethiopians. The traditional hatred between these communities is not hidden."

Ethiopian troops entered Somalia recently, replacing the government of the Union of Islamic Courts, which had taken control of much of central and southern Somalia during the past six months.

The internationally recognised Transitional Federal Government of Somalia, invited Ethiopia’s intervention. The Transitional Federal Government, which had been overthrown by the Union of Islamic Courts, is now in control in the capital – Mogadishu – and is being supported by Ethiopian troops.

Mr Abdi added: "Naturally, there is a radicalisation of Muslim youth in North Eastern Kenya. These are their relatives across the border. They feel respect for human rights has been thrown out the window."

In recent days the US military has carried out air raids in southern Somalia. "Innocent people are being bombed under the guise of fighting terrorism," said Mr Abdi. "The Americans are not fighting, but rather breeding, terrorism."

Alistair Dutton, of Christian Aid’s humanitarian division, commented: "The reports we are getting from Somalia, via our partner Northern Aid, cannot substantiated and we have to be cautious in our response to them."

He continued: "The allegations are very serious and it is vital that they are investigated urgently. Christian Aid believes that it is imperative that the Kenyan authorities immediately open the Somali border, in accordance with international humanitarian law, to allow those fleeing the violence access to Kenya and to humanitarian aid."

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