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Amnesty: AFRICOM has an ongoing duty of care to the civilians impacted by its operations in Somalia

Mogadishu (SD) – Amnesty International has called on the U.S. military not to relinquish its international obligations to civilians affected by US airstrikes in Somalia.

“Whether or not US ground troops leave Somalia, AFRICOM must immediately implement a strategy to ensure that it does not abandon any progress made towards accountability for US military actions – including their reporting on civilian casualty allegations,” said Deprose Muchena, Amnesty International’s Director for East and Southern Africa.

Amnesty International’s statement comes after the Pentagon announced that US troops in Somalia would be withdrawn by January 2021.

Amnesty International calls on AFRICOM to ensure justice and compensation for civilian victims of violations of international humanitarian law before leaving Somalia.

“Regardless of having boots on the ground or not, AFRICOM still must ensure justice and reparation for the civilian victims of violations of international humanitarian law and their families. And if air strikes continue, AFRICOM must ensure they take all feasible precautions to spare civilians.” said Amnesty.

Since President Trump took office in 2017, AFRICOM has stepped up its air warfare in Somalia, launching a total of 196 airstrikes, using drones.

Amnesty International has investigated nine US airstrikes in the Lower Shabelle, Galgadud and Middle Jubba regions since 2017 and found that 21 civilians had been killed and 11 wounded.

Amnesty in its statement welcomed the transparent reporting on civilian deaths by AFRICOM.

“These welcome steps show that, when confronted with credible reporting of the facts on the ground – which bolster what families of the victims have long been saying – AFRICOM is capable of investigating and reporting on civilian casualties. Now the US government must take the next steps and ensure that victims of violations and their families see justice and reparation,” said Deprose Muchena.

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