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UN Report: Kenyan women held captive in Somalia as "sex slaves"

By Abuga Makori in Nairobi , Garowe Online

NAIROBI - Kenya, and Somalia could be yet again at loggerheads following the release of an explosive report implicating both the Al-Shabaab militants and Somali National Army (SNA), Garowe Online reports.

A report by the United Nations has exposed an illegal web of sex slavery targeting Kenyan women. Those targeted, the report says, are vulnerable women from the coastal region.

Their tormentors, the report says, deceive them with fake job promises in the Horn of Africa nation. In the long run, they find themselves as sex slaves or brides in forced marriages.

“The women were deceived with false promises of a job but instead kept captive and exploited in marriage and sexual slavery,” the report says.

Titled Trafficking in persons in the context of armed conflict, the report was prepared by the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC).

Various armed groups in Somalia end up coercing the victims into sexual slavery during their missions. Al-Shabaab has been battling to topple Mogadishu administration since 2006.

The armed groups have also been implicated in child trafficking. The report paints a dirty picture of the abduction of innocent children who are used in battlefronts as shields and other supportive roles.

“Armed groups active in this environment abduct and coerce women into sexual slavery and recruit children for use in combat or support roles,” the report says.

The report says the conflict in Somalia has displaced a large part of the population, creating steady flows of refugees.

United Nations has put a concerted effort to restore law and order in Somalia. Over 20,000 soldiers are involved in peacekeeping under AMISOM.

UNSOM - Unites Nations Assistance Mission in Somalia is also an active program seeking to offer humanitarian aid.

“Refugee camps in neighboring countries and informal settlements within the country are marred with vulnerabilities, particularly related to the limited available job options,” the report says.

"Al Shabaab, for example, has trafficked children for various purposes, including armed combat and sexual slavery. The armed group Ahl al-Sunna wal-Jama'a, the Somalia National Army, clan militias and regional government forces have also recruited children into their ranks, albeit in lesser numbers," the report says.

Kenya is battling to have Al-Shabaab blacklisted as a terrorist group by the United Nations Security Council. Her efforts flopped in August after the US and Somalia opposed the plan.

The Al-Shabaab group has been executing dangerous assault against Kenyans, with the latest coming last month at Dadaab where 11 police officers were killed.

Kenya Defense Forces are in the process of planning a strategic exit, and the entire withdrawal process is expected to be completed by 2021 when SNA soldiers have been fully equipped to take over.

Already, Nairobi is in a tussle with Mogadishu over the Indian Ocean maritime dispute. The two countries will be facing each other at the International Court of Justice at The Hague in June 2020.

The relationship has also been severely disconnected through the crisis in Jubaland's regional government. Somalia accuses Kenya of imposing Sheikh Ahmed Madobe on the people through the rigging.


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