Thirty personnel from the Somali National Security Forces have successfully concluded a Training of Trainers (ToT) course, on mitigating conflict-related sexual violence in the Horn of Africa country.
The four-day workshop which attracted participants from security institutions, Federal and Federal Member States, drew participants from the National Intelligence Service Agency (NISA), the Somali National Army (SNA), the Somali Police Force (SPF), ministries of Defence, Internal Security, Justice; and Women and Human Rights Development.
It was organised by the African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM) in collaboration with the British Embassy in Somalia, with facilitation from the Federal Ministry of Defence and the Office of the President.
Ambassador Francisco Madeira, the Special Representative of the Chairperson of the African Union Commission (SRCC) for Somalia noted that the trainees will, in turn, impart knowledge acquired to their colleagues, in a bid to promote compliance to International Humanitarian Law and International Rights Law.
Focus on the training was the protection of women and children during conflict.
“Equally critical is the need to train Somali security forces on how to support survivors of sexual violence, in a manner that does not further harm but ensure that their needs are met and that the perpetrators of the heinous crimes are brought to justice,” Madeira said during his remarks to the participants.
This is the fifth training to be conducted for the Somali National Security Forces on the prevention and response to conflict-related sexual violence.
Similar training has been held in Jubbaland, HirShabelle, Galmudug, and South West states.
Ambassador Madeira noted with concern that sexual violence remains a key protection issue for women and girls in Somalia, saying conflict, insecurity, weak legislation and law enforcement, gender inequality, and displacement, were major contributing factors to the vice.
It is within this framework that AMISOM in-conjunction with partners, is training the Somali National Security Forces on how to support survivors of conflict-related sexual violence.
Ben Fender, the British Ambassador to Somalia noted that conflict-related sexual violence destroys families and communities, as well as the victims’ mental health.
“A child born of rape, who is excluded from their village and excluded from their community, may one-day end up being recruited by Al-Shabaab,” Ambassador Fender said.
“So if we want the Somali security forces to be as I think they should be – the pride of this country, we have to ensure that they put the protection of civilians and the protection of the weak, at the heart of what they do,” he added.
Adebayo Kareem, AMISOM’s Head of Protection, Human Rights and Gender Unit, underscored the importance of the training, during the transitioning of national security responsibilities from AMISOM to the Somali security forces.
He stated that such capacity building initiatives will build a pool of Somali experts who can provide training to their counterparts in specified areas.
“We want you to take the lead in these training exercises. Not only in Mogadishu, not only in the Benadir region but in the South West, in Jubbaland, in HirShabelle, in Galmudug,” he told the participants.
Present at the workshop was Lt. Col. Andy Downey, the Commander of the UK-Somali National Army Support Team (UK-SST), who revealed that the United Kingdom would provide training to SNA soldiers from the South West State’s Sixth Division.
“We’ve been delighted to sponsor the training that has taken place. It’s been very innovative; it’s been very exciting as the training has developed. And we’ve reached a point where we have demonstrated that the Somali security forces, the civil society, and line ministry officials have got the skills, the knowledge, the ability to deliver this training themselves,” Jim Haggerty, the Adviser to the British Embassy in Somalia on Early Recovery and Stabilisation stated.
“If we get the training and get certificates and go back to our states, we are like a man who has ammunition but doesn’t have a rifle. If you have ammunition and you don’t have a rifle, what will you do with the ammunition? Nothing. So, I hope we get the benefits but we are requesting and also challenging that we get the equipment to facilitate our work in different states,” noted a participant from HirShabelle state Lt. Ali Abdi.