|Country Report Somalia - ICRC Worldwide Consultation on the Rules of War (International Committee of the Red Cross , 1999, 54 p.)|
|Protection of civilians|
The reality of Somalia's war - its brutality and its impact on civilians - stands in sharp contrast to its peoples' strongly held attitudes on wartime behaviour. Sixty-six per cent of respondents say that combatants - no matter whose side they are on - should attack enemy combatants and leave civilians alone.8 Seventy-nine per cent of those surveyed name actions that should be off-limits to combatants. The list includes attacking or hurting civilians (46 per cent), robbing or stealing (11 per cent), killing or torturing wounded combatants (8 per cent) and killing children or the elderly (8 per cent). Only 1 per cent of respondents say that "everything is allowed in war". (See Figure 3.)
8 See "Civilians and combatants" on page 8 for a more detailed examination of this question.
Question: Is there anything that combatants should not be allowed to do in fighting the enemy?
The findings were echoed in discussion groups and interviews, where people across a broad spectrum reject attacks on civilians. This includes a number of militiamen, who voice blanket opinions that belie the reality of the war in Somalia.
...the civilians should not be involved in war. They shouldn't be attacked or killed. (FG, militiamen, Kismayo)
You should not attack in order to harm the innocent civilians. (FG, militiamen, Kismayo)
Because they are non-combatants of war and they are not the fighters against you. They haven't killed your people, they are poor civilians. And they should be left alone. (FG, militiamen, Kismayo)
Not surprisingly, women, children, the elderly and disabled and religious leaders were most frequently singled out for special protection. But a range of participants in focus groups and in-depth interviews - fighters, farmers, tribal elders - say that students, teachers, and highly educated professionals such as doctors and scientists should be included in this group. (IDI, fighter, Boroma/Berbera; FG, women farmers, Jilib; FG, militiamen, Mogadishu; FG, elders and religious leaders, Hargeisa) Somalis, it seems, put a special value on the scarce few of their countrymen and women who have more than a primary education.