January 2003

Displaced people from minority groups seriously lack protection (2002)

  • IDP camp of 400 families was burnt down in Bosasso in September 2002

  • Southern IDPs in the north considered as 'criminals'

  • IDPs from minority groups (Bantu, Ogadenis and Rahanweyn) lack political representation therefore are denied basic rights including access to humanitarian assistance marginalized, discriminated and often the targets of attacks

  • Most of the IDPs who fled to the north come from minority subclans such as Rahaween, Bantu, Ajuran, Jarso, Madhiban and Ashraf.

  • In the North they lack protection and political representation

  • Persecutions against Bantu and Rahanweyn minorities forced them to flee

  • Minorities are subject to human rights abuses, exploitation, displacement and land dispossession by militias and bandits

  • IDPs like the Galgala were prevented from buying animals and houses

  • Lack of competent central authority hampers implementation of international protection instruments like the Guiding Principles on Internal displacement

"An IDP camp on the outskirts of Bossaso with about 400 families was totally destroyed by fire at the beginning of September. Humanitarian organisations have expressed their concern at the lack of permanent settlement for IDPs in the Puntland. IDPs themselves have cited insecurity of land tenure as one of their major problems." (ACC/SCN 39, 31 October 2002p.15)

"Links were also made to the minority status of many IDPs, who were reported to be driven from their lands and disproportionately victimized by dominant groups following the outbreak of civil war in 1991. It is further noted that refugees benefit from significantly more protection than IDPs insofar as refugees fall under the authority of UNHCR, and some authorities, such as in "Somaliland", recognize the rights of returnees. Other international instruments of protection are rendered ineffective, given the predominance of faction leaders and weak administrations.
It was especially noted that IDPs were viewed as criminals and a burden to society, which created tensions in the community and significant discrimination against them." (UNCHR, 31 December 2002,p.15;19)

"Personal security of IDPs, as members of minority groups, remain at stake because most of them continue to suffer discrimination and denial of basic rights by local authorities and some of the local communities. Women suffer most because of both gender and ethnic discrimination, therefore, they have very limited access to resources. Moreover, women in the IDP camps suffered some cases of rape, abduction and forced marriage. A woman who is subjected to rape face entrenched social attitude and tradition that hamper their family relation in the long run.
IDPs in the north are originally from the sub clans from the south such as Rahaween, Bantu, Ajuran, Jarso, Madhiban and Ashraf. They lack the political power and protection of the dominant sub clans of the north and they are vulnerable to personal insecurity, access to income generating opportunities and political representation. Application of the Guiding Principles in such as a complex situation in an absence of reliable governance system has not been tried. All these situations pose unique problems for research and analysis.

Also the report reflects the importance of clan and sub clan affiliations which are determinant in understanding the plight of IDPs across the Somali regions. It appears there is a direct correlation between minorities and displacement in Somalia. Most of those who are dispossessed and displaced whether in the north or the south are from minority groups e.g. Bantu. This social structure also influences effective and targeted delivery of humanitarian assistance to IDPs and minorities.
For the protection of IDPs, there are international instruments and particularly the UN Guiding Principles, which specifically and comprehensively address the rights of IDPs. However, in Somalia, a collapsed state, with no competent central government, the key problem is implementation and enforcement of the international instruments and principles. The country is divided into armed fiefdoms ruled by clan militia that do not respect or adhere to the rule of law.

UN agencies and NGOs representing the main humanitarian actors, they have limited influence on clan militia and their leaders to respect the protection instruments. However, it yet appears that constructive engagement in collaboration with the civil society in the form of non-governmental organizations, as they can contribute invaluable experiences, local knowledge and insights, is only way forward to propomting local protection mechansims." (UNCU, 30 July 2002, pp1;6)

"The security of each Somali individual or clan is mainly influenced by the position of the individual person or clan in the Somali's social structure. Those who have no clan lineage and particularly the minority groups are the most vulnerable ones. Because of their position as minorities, the IDPs from the Bantu and Galgala suffer a wide range of human rights violations which include discrimination and economic exploitation by the Habrgedir and Marehan Militia who are now in control of the city. On the ground that they are affiliated with the Majerten, the Galgala suffered more than even the Bantu IDPs because they are considered as part of the enemy. As a consequence many Galagala were summarily executed during the conflicts between the Majerten and Habargedir, and between Majerten and Marehan in Kismayo. Because of fear of persecution, many Galagala IDPs fled Kismayo to Kenya, while others remained as IDPs.
The Bantu IDP, being ethnically different from the rest, suffer discrimination and exclusion from all social and economic activities in the city. Some Bantu elders in the camps claimed that they were denied even access to relief food. They claim that during General Morgan's period, before aid agencies ceased their humanitarian operation in Kismayo, relief food intended for them was diverted to other communities in Kismayo or elsewhere or to the markets for sale. They also claim that they are denied access to profitable work such carpentry, driving etc.

Since they are also less dominant in Kismaio town, the Ajuran, Ormala, Tuni and Werdai are also treated as the Bantu and Galgale IDPs. They are discriminated, marginalized and persecuted. In April 2001, a young Werdai IDP boy selling second hand cloths was stabbed to death by a Marehan man in a robber attack at the market. No any form of legal action against this has been taken by either the Marehan elders or local authorities.
Over 99% of the Bantu live in absolute poverty and have no access to their basic needs. Periodic attacks and robbery of food has further deteriorated the situation of Bantu and their IDPs.
The Galgala IDPs complain that their traditional symbol on their animals for identification was erased by the Abgal, with an intention to appropriate the Galgala livestock. The Galgala IDPs also suffer discrimination. They allegedly claim that some members of the IDP community were denied to buy animals and houses in Adale. They were also denied integration into the main population." (UNCU, 30 July 2002, pp.25-6;39; 47)

"Non-discrimination is a fundamental principle embodied in the first paragraph of common article 3 of the Geneva Conventions. Although Somali society appears to be homogeneous, there are several minority groups in the country. These minorities have been the main victims of the famine and the civil war. The Bantu minority lives along the banks of the Juba and Shabelle rivers, which constitute the life lines of Somalia. The Rahanweyn minority lives between these two rivers, in Bay and Bakool. While the Bantus are largely unarmed, the Rahanweyn Resistance Army is armed to some extent, although insignificantly compared to the other groups. Other minorities live in the coastal areas.

The Bantus, who are thought to descend from slaves brought to Somalia from other east African countries in the eleventh century, are considered a low-status ethnic group. They frequently suffer discriminatory practices and violence. For instance, the Bantus in the Hiran region require permission to go to Belet Weyne, the main town of the region. They have their own market and they are not allowed to mix with the rest of the population. They are brought into town for hard labour. They have less access to education and fewer economic opportunities than other Somalis. Their villages have been burnt, and Bantu women have been raped. During the civil war, the Bantu population has been systematically pushed off their land towards the river by militias or bandits. They are now so close to the river that they face a real risk of their settlements being washed away during floods.
The Rahanweyn minority lives on fertile agricultural land and is more advanced in agriculture. It too has been subjected to dispossession and displacement." (CHR 18 February 1999, paras. 77-80)

"In Somaliland and Puntland, there are problems of discrimination against minorities and internally displaced persons. (CHR 26 January 2000, p. 5)