After declaring parts of Somalia a “war zone,” U.S. President Donald Trump relaxed the rules covering U.S. air strikes in Somalia.
The move signals escalation of U.S. efforts in the fight against militants of the al-Qaida-linked Islamist group Al Shabab, but at the cost of an increased risk of civilian casualties.
Consequently, Trump’s measure also spells more trouble for a war-torn country already struggling with civil war and a decades-long refugee crisis.
“Nearly 1 million Somalis are displaced in the near region, and a further 1.1 million are displaced within Somalia,” according to the United Nations Refugee Agency.
In addition to terrorism, civil war and the refugee crisis, Somalia is also undergoing one of the worst droughts in history. In fact, earlier in March, drought claimed more than 100 lives in just 48 hours.
The New York Times later reported the drought and war in Somalia “heighten threat of not just one famine, but four.”
As a result people are constantly migrating in and outside of the country, which further puts them at an increased risk of being mistaken as militants.
It’s also important to mention here that while Trump’s latest move has the potential to create more refugees, the POTUS’ immigration order bans civilians from Somalia from emigrating or seeking refuge in the United States.
What’s more, experts believe the relaxation of rules protecting civilians in Somalia could fuel terrorist recruitment in the war-ravaged country.
“…An increase in attacks, it could create the perfect storm in which the U.S. is cast in the role of an imperial and crusading aggressor, with little or no concern for the civilian population,” said Zacharias Pieri, lecturer of international relations and security studies at the University of South Florida Sarasota-Manatee, according to ABC News. “This would serve well for those jihadist movements seeking more recruits.”
All in all, Trump’s new directive for Somalia is only going to make life more miserable for vulnerable civilians struggling for access to basic necessities such as food and water.
Banner and thumbnail credit: Reuters