Where We Work | Somalia

The civil war in Somalia in the 1990s resulted in catastrophic famine, failed government, and a devastating legacy of landmines from the civil war in the north.

During this period, PHR and Africa Watch sent two teams to Somalia — one to visit hospitals and another to northern Somalia (Somaliland) to assess the effects of landmines used during the years of conflict. While visiting hospitals in Somalia’s capital, PHR experts found persistent high death rates, injuries, and inadequate medical care, which is documented in the report “No Mercy in Mogadishu.” During the investigation in the north, PHR experts discovered that beyond the immediate loss of life, the mines had significantly impacted the economy there, and were the primary obstacle in the way of the repatriation of hundreds of thousands of refugees who fled to Ethiopia to escape the war. These findings and PHR’s recommendations are documented in the report “Landmines in Northern Somalia.”

In 2013, PHR advocated for the reversal of two convictions: a 27-year-old mother who alleged she was gang-raped by soldiers, and a journalist who reported on sexual violence in camps for internally displaced Somalis. In the first case, PHR urged that Somalia abandon the “two finger” test, which had been used to discredit the woman’s assertion that she had been raped, as an “archaic, irrelevant and meaningless practice.” Her conviction was later overturned, but the journalist’s was not.

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