Human Rights Watch (HRW) has condemned all parties involved in the deepening humanitarian crisis unfolding in Somalia.
Beset by famine, civil war and terrorist militant groups, Somalia is enduring the worst crisis in Africa in at least 20 years.
“All parties to Somalia’s armed conflict have committed serious violations of the laws of war that are contributing to the country’s humanitarian catastrophe,” HRW said in a 58-page report on the conflict.
“All sides should immediately end abuses against civilians, hold those responsible to account, and ensure access to aid and free movement of people fleeing conflict and drought.”
The HRW report documents abuses carried out by the insurgent Islamist group al-Shabab, as well as by government soldiers who carry out arbitrary arrests and detentions.
“Abuses by al-Shabaab and pro-government forces have vastly multiplied the suffering from Somalia’s famine,” said Daniel Bekele, Africa director at HRW.
“All sides need to take urgent steps to stop these unlawful attacks, let in aid, and end this humanitarian nightmare.”
The report also noted that Somali refugees who have fled to Kenya often face violence, extortion, harassment and even rape from Kenyan police.
In addition, the human rights group criticized western nations for not applying enough pressure on Somali officials to end the abuses.
Ben Rawlence, the author of the study, reserved particular antipathy towards al-Shabab.
"Al-Shabab must carry the burden of that responsibility for the way in which the demands of the fighting has led to human rights violations which have contributed to famine," he told BBC.
Somalia has suffered from chaos for twenty years and is widely regarded as a ‘failed state.’
Much of the central and southern region of the country is controlled by al-Shabab. About 1.4-million have been displaced within the country itself by war and family, while many tens of thousands of others have escaped to neighboring Kenya and Ethiopia.
The World Health Organization estimates that almost 3-million people in the country need immediate food aid.
“We encourage the international community to provide aid inside Somalia, as well as to refugees in Kenya and Ethiopia,” Bekele added.
“Somalia’s neighbors need to respect the right of all those fleeing Somalia to seek asylum.”