Ads 468x60px

Thursday, September 6, 2012

Mogadishu still unsafe, says UK group’s report

A UK-based advocacy group has issued a report highly critical of the Somali government’s attempts to restore security in Mogadishu and improve local governance.

The report points at a disturbing rise in violence and officially-sanctioned vigilantes a year after the militant insurgent group Al-Shabaab was dislodged from the capital by the African peacekeeping force, Amisom.

The 27-page report by Saferworld, a conflict-prevention research and advocacy organization based in London, entitled Mogadishu rising? - Conflict and governance dynamics in Mogadishu”, notes tentative gains in security.

It acknowledges that there is an improved public perception, but says progress “remains inadequate and uneven with significant areas of Mogadishu – particularly the city’s northern districts – almost entirely unpoliced.

“In the absence of state-provided security, residents and officials have formed an array of neighbourhood vigilante groups and private militia to protect themselves and their property.”

The report, based on a comprehensive field research that involved opinion surveys and focus groups, from April to July 2012, accuses the TFG of failing to capitalise on the military gains achieved to improve security and instead fuelling a “privatization of security” likely to undermine the efforts to stabilize the capital in the longer term.

“A significant number – reportedly up to 50 per cent – of police and military personnel work for private individuals, adding to the large number of freelance armed actors in the city, and seriously undermining the security services’ ability to perform their duties.”

The private militias and neighbourhood vigilante groups serve basic security functions but the problem is that they operate independently and are primarily loyal to their clans, the report says.

“These groups are better defined by what they are against – Al-Shabaab – than what they stand for as they work autonomously and lack a single command and control structure.”

There is growing public unease at the rise of these private militia groups loyal and their links with faction leaders and influential businessmen, whose political agenda remains dubious.

It says there is evidence some of these warlords, who feel aggrieved at their exclusion from the “new political order”, may use these private militia groups to stage an armed revolt or foment instability.

Insurgency-related violence is declining but remains a threat, the report says, with Al-Shabaab picking on soft targets – NGO staff and journalists.

_Daily Nation