Amnesty International puts the US on the spotlight over civilian casualties in drone attacks
The Amnesty International has called for an investigation in to the civilian casualties in the US drone attacks in Somalia. The Human rights body said that while the US and Somalia government have been quick in announcing Al-Shabab casualties, not much is known of innocent civilians caught in the crossfire. Since 2017, air strikes conducted by the United States of America (USA) against the armed group AlShabaab and the armed group calling itself Islamic State (IS) in Somalia have soared, from 14 in 2016 to at least 47 in 2018. In the first eight months of 2019 alone, the USA has already surpassed the 2018 figures, with 48 strikes carried out with armed US Reaper drones and manned aircraft. For many years the USA claimed that its air strikes and other military operations in Somalia had not resulted in a single civilian death or injury. In March 2019, US Africa Command (AFRICOM) asserted that it had carried out 110 strikes since 2017, killing more than 800 “terrorists” but not one civilian.1 However, just a month later and following publication by Amnesty International of new evidence of civilian casualties, the US finally admitted that a civilian woman and child had been killed in an air strike in 2018 and that it had failed to report the two killings to the US Congress.2 While Amnesty International welcomed this admission as a first step, we are yet to see evidence that the USA and Somalia have taken concrete steps to thoroughly investigate all credible allegations of civilian casualties and ensure survivors of air strikes and the families of victims are afforded their right to justice, accountability and remedy. Recent research by Amnesty International found that 14 civilians had been killed and eight more injured in just fie US air strikes in Somalia since April 2017. Given that the US has conducted more than 120 additional strikes across Somalia in the past two-and-a-half years, the true number of civilian casualties is likely to be higher. "However, Amnesty International is yet to see evidence that the USA and Somalia have taken concrete steps to thoroughly investigate these credible allegations of civilian casualties and ensure survivors of air strikes and the families of victims are afforded their right to justice, accountability and remedy. The USA and Somalia have a moral imperative and a legal responsibility to remedy this situation"