By Andrew Wasike
NAIROBI, Kenya (AA) - Somali security forces have destroyed and razed dozens of informal settlements in capital Mogadishu since late December 2017, leaving thousands of people homeless, according to a report by the Human Rights Watch on Monday.
The group's regional office in Kenya said that nearly 3,000 shelters had been destroyed by heavy security forces machinery between Dec. 29 and Jan. 19.
Laetitia Bader, a senior Africa researcher at Human Rights Watch called on the Somali government "to take responsibility for the mass forced evictions of these vulnerable, marginalized communities in Mogadishu".
She also called for a "thorough investigation" followed by "concrete steps to ensure that all future evictions are lawful and that anyone displaced is provided for".
HRW said it spoke to people who were forcibly evicted from their homes at the Xaq-Dhowr and Masha’Allaah Center settlements near the Afgoye-Mogadishu road.
A 56-year-old woman living in the Nuurto 2 camp narrated that "very early in the morning when I woke up, the police, military and intelligence were already around our settlement.
"They came in from the road and started demolishing the structures. One bulldozer was destroying the structures, while the other one was scooping up the debris."
HRW recalled that the Somalian federal minister for planning, investment and development, Gamal Hassan, had promised on Jan. 17 -- in response to growing criticism from aid organizations -- that the government would investigate the evictions.
According to the report, 2.1 million people are internally displaced in Somalia after fleeing from drought and conflict.