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Rights Group Says 'All Guilty' In Somalia Conflict

UN Security Council President Hardeep Singh Puri
Human Rights Watch says all sides in Somalia are guilty of serious violations of international law that "contribute to the current crisis" there, which threatens millions of civilians.

The report, "You Don't Know Who to Blame: War Crimes In Somalia," says all sides in the conflict should end abuses against civilians and ensure Somalis have access to aid.

It says civilians have "borne the brunt of the fighting" since fighting escalated in the past year.

The human rights watchdog says the Islamist armed group al-Shabaab, the Somali government, the African Union peacekeeping forces (AMISOM), and neighboring Kenya and Ethiopia all shared the blame for the dire plight of Somalia's population.

It says that the Somali government must improve its human rights records or its Western backers should reconsider their support for the weak authority.

A spokesman for the Transitional Federal Government denied the accusations, and said the body was committed to human rights.

HRW also says "involvement by outside actors in Somalia has often been counterproductive and contributed to ongoing security threats."

The current president of the UN Security Council, India's Ambassador Hardeep Singh Puri, reiterated the UN's concern about Somalia after a Security Council meeting on the situation there today. Puri also called on all sides involved in the conflict to refrain from looting humanitarian aid.

"The members of the Security Council urged all parties and armed groups to ensure full, safe, and unhindered access for the timely delivery of humanitarian aid to persons in need of assistance across Somalia," he said, adding that "appropriate steps" should be taken "to ensure the safety and security of drought-affected populations and humanitarian personnel and supplies."

Puri's statement came as the Associated Press news agency reported on August 15 that vast amounts of food aid meant for Somalia's famine victims have been stolen and are being sold at markets near refugee camps.

Millions of civilians are said to be at grave risk from hunger amid the worst drought in many decades in the Horn of Africa.

compiled from agency reports

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