Human Rights Crisis in Somalia

( – promoted by buhdydharma )

 (Docudharma is like a big ocean to me. I guess I’ll jump but I hope not to be devoured by any sharks!) cross- posted at Daily Kos.

The situation in Somalia has not been good for some time.

A baby born in Somalia will have a life expectancy of 48.4 years.

 There is little date to measure the full extent of Somalia’s poverty but in 1994 the UN Development Program ranked Somolia 165th out of 173 countries in terms of its Human Development Index.

According to the World Bank, health standards in Somalia before the 1991 were among the worst in the world. It was estimated that there was 1 doctor for every 20,000 people (in the United States it was 1 doctor for every 470 people), and 1 nurse for every 1,900 persons (in the United States it was 1 nurse for every 70 persons). Only 2 percent of births were attended by a health professional, whereas in the United States nearly 100 percent of births were so attended. In 1990 average life expectancy at birth was 46 years, the infant mortality was about 123 per 1,000 live births (in the United States it is 7 per 1,000). The adult literacy rate was 27 percent.


There is a little good news out of Somalia. They are polio free.

In a triumph over violence, poverty, and poor infrastructure, Somalia has once again become polio-free. The Global Polio Eradication Initiative (GPEI) announced on 25 March that the West African nation hasn’t reported a case of polio since a year ago. Although it eradicated the disease in 2002, Somalia became reinfected in 2005 by poliovirus originating in Nigeria, resulting in an outbreak of 228 cases.

Innovative approaches tailored to conflict areas were pivotal in conquering polio in Somalia. More than 10,000 volunteers and health workers used several doses of monovalent vaccines to immunize children in insecure areas in a short period. With strong community support, the effort succeeded in reaching more than 1.8 million children under age five across one of the most dangerous countries on earth.

“This truly historic achievement shows that polio can be eradicated everywhere, even in the most challenging and difficult settings,” says Dr. Hussein A. Gezairy, director of the World Health Organization’s Eastern Mediterranean Regional Office.

But little good news can easily get lost.

 Since 2006 Mogadishu warlords and the militia Islamic Courts Union have been fighting each other.  Things became more violent and complicated when Ethopia invaded Somalia in December of 2006. Fighting continues “between transitional government Somali and Ethiopian official troops, on one hand, and Islamic militants, on the other.”

 Human Rights Watch issued a press release on the current situation.

Human Rights Watch welcomes this initiative by the United Nations Security Council to discuss the human rights and humanitarian crisis in Somalia. The situation in Somalia is one of the world’s starkest and most neglected tragedies. In basic human terms the scope of the crisis is enormous. It is also a situation with serious regional implications that must be squarely addressed by the Security Council.

Since early 2007, thousands of civilians have been killed in appalling circumstances: crushed to death in their homes after indiscriminate bombardment; injured by shrapnel from mortars, heavy artillery, and bullets and dying slow, agonizing deaths when they are unable to reach medical care; deliberately executed by members of armed groups on all sides; and caught in ceaseless crossfire in densely-populated neighborhoods. Thousands more have been injured, assaulted, raped, and looted of all their property as they fled the violence in Mogadishu. Each day adds to the toll of civilian deaths and injuries.

Up to 700,000 people have been displaced by violence from their homes in Mogadishu in the past year, with 50,000 people displaced in the first months of 2008 alone. These newly displaced people join some 400,000 people who were previously displaced, plus several hundred thousand Somali refugees, for a total of more than one million internally displaced people in south-central Somalia-at least ten percent of the entire population.

Human Rights Watch has closely monitored, documented and reported on patterns of violations of international human rights and humanitarian law in Somalia. In 2007, our researchers conducted an in-depth investigation of abuses connected to the hostilities in Mogadishu. We interviewed scores of eyewitnesses in five different locations, including Mogadishu, and published a comprehensive report on our findings. We continue to document crimes committed in Mogadishu and other areas through research in the region and from afar.

Each of the parties to the armed conflict has committed serious violations of international humanitarian law. In some cases, where individuals knowingly or recklessly committed these violations, the violations amount to war crimes.


Maadey Suufi, a 27-year-old father from Buur Hakab, fled his home 10 years ago because of drought and insecurity. Since then, he has lived in an overcrowded camp for the displaced in the Suuq Ba’ad area of north Mogadishu, where he raised a family. But, then tragedy struck:

“On Sunday evening [30 December] I went to buy a few things at a nearby shop when shells started landing in our area.

“I quickly returned but our small home was no longer there. My wife who was nine months pregnant and my four children [aged between eight and two years] were dead. There was not a single body, but pieces of them all over the place. I could only tell which was which by the size of the limbs, but some parts were so mutilated that we could not figure out who it belonged to.

“But this is the worst experience of my life. I don’t have a family or a place to call home. I don’t know what I will do, but I cannot go back to that place [the camp].

“What happened to me happened to other Somalis. I pray to God to lift this curse on us.” “


It is a tragic situation, in a continent plagued by drought, poverty, violence, war. It is amazing the courage people have who are in Somalia trying to make a difference. Please keep in your prayers 2 U.N contract workers that have been kidnapped.

Two United Nations contract workers, a Briton and a Kenyan, were kidnapped Tuesday in southern Somalia, according to the U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization.

The two worked for India-based Genesys International Corp., which conducts aerial surveys for the U.N. to prepare detailed maps for eventual floodings in the area.

Sometimes perspective is need. I have to be grateful for what I have because there are so many people without. Three meals a day, a comfortable bed, a warm shower, such luxuries so many people will never experience.

As a Democrat human rights is a top issue for me. I have faith and reason to believe that Barack Obama will be a great President on human rights. It will be fitting if America elects Obama the same year we celebrate the 60th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human rights.

In 1948, General Assembly of the United Nations adopted and proclaimed the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. The preamble reads.

Whereas recognition of the inherent dignity and of the equal and inalienable rights of all members of the human family is the foundation of freedom, justice and peace in the world,

Whereas disregard and contempt for human rights have resulted in barbarous acts which have outraged the conscience of mankind, and the advent of a world in which human beings shall enjoy freedom of speech and belief and freedom from fear and want has been proclaimed as the highest aspiration of the common people,

Whereas it is essential, if man is not to be compelled to have recourse, as a last resort, to rebellion against tyranny and oppression, that human rights should be protected by the rule of law,

Whereas it is essential to promote the development of friendly relations between nations,

Whereas the peoples of the United Nations have in the Charter reaffirmed their faith in fundamental human rights, in the dignity and worth of the human person and in the equal rights of men and women and have determined to promote social progress and better standards of life in larger freedom,

Whereas Member States have pledged themselves to achieve, in co-operation with the United Nations, the promotion of universal respect for and observance of human rights and fundamental freedoms,

Whereas a common understanding of these rights and freedoms is of the greatest importance for the full realization of this pledge,

ps. UNICEF study on Somali women is informative.

The oppression women face is staggering.…


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  1. from the movie Dead Man. The music strikes a chord as I personally contemplate death and human suffering.

  2. i like that you let the story leave the impact.

    and Neil Young… he’s been blowing me away lately.

  3. But this sort of discourse has lost its hold upon me.

    Average life expectancy?  What kind of average life expectancy will we have when there’s a runaway greenhouse effect due to abrupt climate change?

    “Poverty”?  Poverty is caused by capitalism, which removes the human race’s access to the means of subsistence so that said subsistence can be sold back to us, thus ensnaring us in the money economy and pushing us into exploitation as such.  When we can’t pay, that’s called “poverty.”  Get rid of capitalism, and poverty goes away.  What you have in Somalia is a number of nation-states trying to impose capitalism on Somalia on their terms, so that Somalia can be more efficiently exploited, by them.

    Human Rights Watch?  Articles like this and this  are a good barometer of HRW’s credibility.  Sorry, “human rights” do not exist independently of political considerations, as the linked analyses show.

    As a Democrat human rights is a top issue for me. I have faith and reason to believe that Barack Obama will be a great President on human rights.

    Or maybe he’ll just be another rep for Wall Street against the world.  

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