“In Somali culture, if somebody is killed, the killer should come and talk to me, help me bury the dead and compensate me.” –Mohammed*, 32-year-old Somali man to CIVIC
Somalis want what everyone wants — to live without fear. But the future is uncertain for Somalis who live between several armed groups including al-Shabaab, the African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM) and the Somali Armed Forces (SAF). While alShabaab directly targets civilians, both AMISOM and SAF have harmed civilians both as the result of abuses and in the process of their own combat operations.
Our work in Somalia is focused on assisting AMISOM as they work to reduce and respond to civilian harm caused by its operations. By invitation, our team went to Mogadishu to advise on a civilian protection policy, which was approved by the African Union. With the office of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees, we examined how Somalis traditionally compensate for injury and harm. That rich cultural history is important to inform how AMISOM could properly respond to civilian harm it causes.
Now, we’re supporting AMISOM in building a tool within military headquarters which will help its leadership understand and improve the impact of combat operations on the civilian population. Called a “Civilian Casualty Tracking, Analysis, and Response Cell,” (CCTARC) this tool is the first of its kind for an African military and only the third in the world.
Last year we worked with the African Union (AU) and AMISOM to bring together a two-day event to draft a standard operating procedure for making amends to civilians harmed as a result of their combat operations. The resulting policy document is pending approval. This year we will work together with the AU and AMISOM to assess the efficacy of the CCTARC and to provide an action plan to improve performance.
Somali civilians deserve to be protected and CIVIC is there to help in this effort.