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African Union soldiers deployed in Somalia will rape women and girls attending their camps to request humanitarian aid, according to research, released in a report by Human Rights Watch (HRW).
Most womenran who were abused were living in camps after fleeing famine and violence that is bleeding the country since 2011.
In a report released at a press conference in Nairobi, HRW urges the African Union (AU) to take action to address these abuses and ensure justice for victims.
The document, entitled “The power that these men have over us: Sexual Exploitation and Abuse by the AU forces in Somalia,” reveals the rape of women and girls in two locations of AMISOM (African Union Mission in Somalia) in the Somali capital since 2013.
The research is the testimony of 21 women and girls, some as young as 12, who described being raped or sexually exploited by soldiers from Uganda and Burundi of the AU force. A single case in which the victim is a girl, came to the military courts in Uganda, Kampala.
“Some Soldiers used the humanitarian assistance provided by the mission to force women and girls vulnerable to have sex,” says HRW.
“A number of women and girls interviewed for this report said they were initially approached by sex for money or raped while seeking medical care or water in the bases of AMISOM, particularly at the base of the contingent of Burundi”.
A Burundian soldier gave a girl 15 years u$s 10 after raping her. “First I start or run my hijab (veil) and then attacked me,” said the victim. The girl had gone to the base to find medicine for his mother who was ill.
All Somali women interviewed had come to the capital from communities in southern and central Somalia, famine areas or controlled by the terrorist Al Shabab who have fled the tens of thousands of people in recent years.
“A young girl went to the base to ask for a drug and, when taken to the room of a soldier, he realized the situation. At that time I wanted to run away, she was terrified, but I was hungry and could not do anything,” explained in HRW Africa researcher, Laetitia Bader.
Somalia suffers from a violent instability since the fall of dictator Siad Barre in 1991. AMISOM (composed of troops from Uganda, Burundi, Kenya, Ethiopia, Djibouti and Sierra Leone) was deployed in 2007 to protect the institutions and the Somali Government and facilitate the distribution of humanitarian aid.