US Committee for Refugees
Date: 28 Aug 2000
Mid-year 2000: Somalia:
Somalia's chaotic civil war and sense of pervasive lawlessness moved
into its twelfth year in early 2000.
During the first half of
the year, thousands of newly displaced Somalis descended on the
capital, Mogadishu; gunfights in Mogadishu and at other locations left
hundreds dead; a local aid worker was killed and two international
relief workers were kidnapped; and floods damaged two displacement
camps and killed thousands of livestock.
More than a decade of
violence has left at least 400,000 Somalis living as refugees, and
more than 300,000 living as internally displaced persons. The country
still had no central government.
In January and February,
Somali militia threatened to attack adversaries in Kenya, creating new
tensions along that remote border. In March, clan-based militia
clashes in southern Somalia killed 30 people and pushed frightened
populations to Mogadishu and the nearby town of Merca in search of
safety. Factional fighting elsewhere in southern Somalia killed 60
people. In June, clan-related hostilities in Mogadishu killed 30. In
July, a gunfight in the capital killed seven.
As in previous years, the
relatively small number of humanitarian aid organizations attempting
to operate amid Somalia's chaos came under fire. A local CARE employee
was killed in January several miles north of Mogadishu. In February, a
15-truck aid convoy encountered an ambush and landmines that killed 20
local aid workers, guards, and attackers. In May and June, two
international aid groups suspended operations in northeast Somalia's
Puntland area, in response to death threats and an attempted grenade
attack against one of the agencies.
In June, humanitarian
organizations suspended relief flights to the town of Merca, 50 miles
south of the capital, after a relief plane was hit by bullets. In July,
assailants kidnapped two expatriate aid workers. Negotiations for
their release continued at the end of July.
continued into relatively calm northern Somalia, known as Somaliland.
Approximately 2,000 refugees returned there from Ethiopia and Kenya
during the first half of the year. UNHCR supplied the returnees with
nine months of food, plastic sheeting for shelter, and blankets.
A polio vaccination
campaign sponsored by the World Health Organization inoculated 200,000
Mogadishu children in June. Southern Somalia, however, encountered
floods and "very alarming" food shortages, according to an
assessment by the Food and Agricultural Organization. An estimated
600,000 persons in the south needed partial food aid, relief workers
bloodshed and dangerous impediments to relief work, some observers saw
progress in Somalia in early 2000.
"In the last three or
four years...the power of...armed leaders has declined dramatically,"
said David Stephen, special representative of the UN secretary general
in Somalia, in a May interview published by the UN. "One could
say the civil war has largely run its course. Most of the Somalis do
not have a stomach for civil war as such," he added.
"We do have ongoing
problems - like land taken by one clan from another," Stephen
acknowledged. "We do have a lot of arms in the society, and a lot
of banditry," he said.
A major Somali peace
conference - the thirteenth peace effort since 1991 - got underway in
neighboring Djibouti, attended by some 900 official Somali conferees
and more than 1,000 other Somali observers. The gathering, known as
the "Somalia Peace and Reconciliation Conference," was still
underway at the end of July.)
Reports, Vol. 21, No. 7 (2000)
Copyright 2000, USCR
Link : http://www.reliefweb.int/w/rwb.nsf/s/8BDE6EB05DEDA56B8525694900773444