Christian Aid Tells of Alleged Atrocities in Ethiopia-Somalia Conflict

( [email protected] ) Jan 18, 2007 03:47 PM EST

Christian Aid has received unconfirmed reports of shocking atrocities being committed by Ethiopian soldiers occupying Somalia this week.

Northern Aid, a Christian Aid partner organization based in Nairobi, has been monitoring the Kenya-Somalia border area, and Ethiopian soldiers have been accused of raping Somali women.

Northern Aid’s director, Abdulahi Abdi, said, “We talked to people across the border last night. We heard from Dobley (18km inside Somalia) that girls are being raped by invading forces, the Ethiopians. The traditional hatred between these communities is not hidden.”

Ethiopian troops recently entered Somalia, replacing the government of the Union of Islamic Courts, which had taken control of much of central and southern Somalia during the past six months.

The internationally recognized Transitional Federal Government of Somalia invited Ethiopia’s intervention. The Transitional Federal Government, which was overthrown by the Union of Islamic Courts, is now in control in the capital – Mogadishu – and is being supported by Ethiopian troops, Christian Aid reported.

“Naturally, there is a radicalization of Muslim youth in North Eastern Kenya,” Abdi added. “These are their relatives across the border. They feel respect for human rights has been thrown out the window.”

Alistair Dutton of Christian Aid’s humanitarian division said, “The reports we are getting from Somalia, via our partner Northern Aid, cannot be substantiated and we have to be cautious in our response to them.

“But the allegations are very serious and it is vital that they are investigated urgently. Christian Aid believes that it is imperative that the Kenyan authorities immediately open the Somali border, in accordance with international humanitarian law, to allow those fleeing the violence access to Kenya and to humanitarian aid.”