Mogadishu(Araweelo News Network)Soldiers from the African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM) have sexually abused vulnerable Somali women and
girls in their military bases in Mogadishu.
Human Rights Watch said in a 71-page report on Monday that Internationally-funded African Union troops in Somalia have raped or sexually assaulted women and girls seeking medical assistance, food or water at AMISOM bases.
Human Rights Watch interviewed 21 women and girls who described being raped or sexually exploited by Ugandan or Burundian military personnel serving with the AU forces.
“Some African Union soldiers have misused their positions of power to exploit Somalia’s most vulnerable women and girls,” said Liesl Gerntholtz, women’s rights director at Human Rights Watch.
Some of the abused girls were as young as 12 ,said the US-based rights group urging an end to the abuse.
The vulnerable women largely came from camps in the capital Mogadishu, having fled rural Somalia during a devastating famine in 2011.
“The AU military and political leadership needs to do more to prevent, identify, and punish sexual abuse by their troops,” said HRW Africa head Daniel Bekele.
The AU force commander, General Silas Ntigurirwa, said the report documented “allegations of isolated cases of rape”, and called the report “unbalanced and unfair.”
AMISOM spokesman Eloi Yao, however, pledged an investigation into the “allegations.”
The 22,000-strong AMISOM force, with soldiers from Uganda, Burundi, Djibouti, Sierra Leone and Kenya, has been fighting alongside Somali government troops against the al-Shabab militants since 2007.
Somalia has been the scene of clashes between government forces and al-Shabab militants since 2006.