Rights activists criticize Somalia camp evictions

Sept. 14, 2013 at 1:18 PM

MOGADISHU, Somalia, Sept. 14 (UPI) -- Authorities in Somalia have forcibly evicted thousands of homeless people from camps around Mogadishu, human rights activists said.

Amnesty International said the government was breaking up the camps as it regained control of the capital from Islamist rebels; however, the evictions had degenerated into a heavy-handed rousting of people with no place to go.

The group said in a written report the so-called relocation plan was flawed and "seems to have resulted in large-scale human rights abuses and forced evictions."

About 370,000 people crowded into makeshift camps to escape not only the fighting but also famine and drought. The BBC said Saturday the government viewed the camps as an impediment to plans to rebuild the war-torn city and announced in January the refugees would be moved off.

A spokesman for the government told the BBC the evictions were for the overall good of the country and that lands occupied by the homeless people needed to be returned to the rightful owners.

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