Diplomatic and humanitarian efforts in the Somali Civil War

Diplomatic and humanitarian efforts in the Somali Civil War

The Somali Civil War began in 1988. It has gone through various phases over the past two decades.

In 2006, open civil war broke out between the Islamic Courts Union (ICU) and the Alliance for the Restoration of Peace and Counter-Terrorism (ARPCT) in March through June, and later, the Transitional Federal Government (TFG).

Because the TFG is backed by Ethiopia, and the ICU is backed by Ethiopian rival, Eritrea, an escalation of tensions risks turning this into an international crisis and regional war that could spread across the Horn of Africa.

Over the course of 2006, Ethiopian involvement in the Somali Civil War has escalated. As of December 20, ICU and Ethiopian forces came into direct conflict in the Battle of Baidoa.

The civil war is exacerbating already severe conditions in the country. 2006 also saw an extreme drought followed by the worst storms and floods in decades, causing misery and danger to hundreds of thousands of internally displaced persons (IDPs) and refugees that traveled to Kenya, Ethiopia, Yemen and beyond.

A number of efforts have been made to reestablish peace in the nation and region, alleviate human suffering, and bring humanitarian relief. There have also been many international expressions of desires and hopes for Somalia's peace, security, and future.


International Concerns

A spokesman for the African Union said Ethiopia has every right to defend its sovereignty and supported Ethiopian military actions in Somalia. He blamed the African Union of being slow on what was necessary to restrain Ethiopia from taking unilateral action.[1] However, the BBC reports that the AU has now changed its position and urged Ethiopia to withdraw immediately.[2]

An Arab League spokesman said his organization would like all hostilities to stop and warring parties to respect the binding agreements they signed before world community. He said Somalia doesn’t need outside intervention and Ethiopia must leave Somalia.[3]

On December 26, US State Department spokesman Gonzalo Gallegos noted Ethiopia has "genuine security concerns" regarding Somalia and that it had intervened in the country at the behest of the TFG. He refused to comment as to whether the US was actively supplying Ethiopia in the conflict.[4]

Kofi Annan called Ethiopian and Kenyan leaders to attempt to arrange a halt to the fighting, while the Security Council was briefed on the situation.[5] The Security Council called for an immediate end to the fighting and as it meets Wednesday and onwards. It is reported to be in a deadlock due to differences in opinion between council president Qatar and Western nations over the withdrawal of international troops.[6]

On December 27, the African Union called on Ethiopia to withdraw thousands of troops from Somalia immediately. The call was supported by the Arab League and the east African grouping IGAD.[2]

Scope of the Crisis

Somalis and Australian Army soldiers wait near the loading zone of a US Marine CH-53 Sea Stallion delivering Australian wheat in January 1993

Refugees and Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs)

Mainly Somali refugees have gone to the neighboring states of Kenya, Ethiopia, and Yemen. Many of these are living in refugee camps. According to the World Food Programme (WFP), the regional crisis in the Horn of Africa in 2006 required their assistance for about 1.5 million persons: "563,000 Kenyans and 100,000 Somali refugees in Kenya, 455,000 people in Somalia and 362,000 in Ethiopia."[7] While not all of these figures for the overall humanitarian crisis in the Horn of Africa represent Somalis, a very large number are Somalis inside the country or living in refugee camps in other nations.

CARE estimates 1.8 million people were pushed to the brink of starvation in the region due to drought, flood and civil war combined, while it could only provide food to 600,000 persons. Over 1 million lost their homes due to flooding.[8]

WFP on December 19, 2006 said it was only reaching 255,000 of the 455,000 Somalis in need.[9]

Other refugees from the Somali civil war have disbursed through the world, where they have formed their own communities and integrated into new societies with greater or lesser success. Programs for refugees from Somalia have been set up by many governments, including the US 2000-2003 program for Bantu refugees.[10]

Location of Somali refugee camps (and their populations):

  • Yemen - 75,000 - 100,000 (22,000 recent migrants joined a previous figure of 75,000)[16]
  • Djibouti - 100,000 refugees from Somalia and Ethiopia
  • Ethiopia - 16,387 refugees still remaining from the early 1990s.[17] However, recent hostilities are likely to cause a new wave of refugees.

Location of international Somali communities:

Diplomatic Initiatives

UN Security Council Resolutions

Flag of the United Nations.svg

On December 6, 2006 the UN Security Council passed a pair of resolutions involving Somalia:

  • Resolution 1724, stresses the arms embargo on Somalia and calls all UN member nations to avoid exacerbating the conflict by shipping arms into the region.[18]
  • Resolution 1725, authorizes "IGAD and Member States of the African Union to establish a protection and training mission in Somalia." This mission was dubbed IGASOM, and for the purposes of their mission, the arms embargo was lifted to allow them to bring weapons into the country.[19][20]

Somali reaction to the resolutions was generally positive for supporters of the TFG,[21] and negative, angering, or outrightly hostile for supporters of the ICU.[22] It was seen as a US-backed plan. Ever since Operation Restore Hope, and the First Battle of Mogadishu, the United States has not been popular amongst the Somalis.

IGAD and AU members balked at creating the necessary peacekeeping force. There was ICU resistance to allowing Ethiopian troops be part of the mission, for instance. Uganda, the one nation that initially committed to provide a battalion of troops, later backed away from its pledge when the Islamists threatened to attack any UN peacekeepers that entered the country.[23][24] In its defense, the current crisis does not allow for peacekeepers when there is active hostilities conducted with heavy weapons (see Battle of Baidoa).

On December 26, at 3 pm New York time (2000 GMT), the UN Security Council heard a briefing on the crisis by special envoy for Somalia, Francois Lonseny Fall of Guinea.[25] In the briefing, he said all UN and NGO staff had been evacuated from the area, including the UN Disaster Assessment and Coordination Team. The fighting had put nearly 2 million flood-affected persons at severe risk.[26]

Kofi Annan called Ethiopian and Kenyan leaders to attempt to arrange a halt to the fighting, while the Security Council was briefed on the situation.[5]

On December 27, the UN Security Council remained deadlocked for the second day, with council chair Qatar refusing to budge over the demand for withdrawal of Ethiopian troops from the country.[27]

Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD)


By the authority of UN Security Council 1725, the member states of the Intergovernmental Authority on Development IGAD and the African Union (AU) are enchartered to conduct a peacekeeping mission to Somalia. Dubbed IGASOM, the mission would seek to put UN-sanctioned peacekeepers in the country for the first time since the 1992-1995 missions (UNOSOM I, UNITAF, and UNOSOM II).

On December 2, 2006, representatives of IGAD and the ICU met and published a cordial and formal communique[28] committing the ICU to the IGAD plans. Subsequently, the ICU has declared its opposition to the mission.

IGASOM never deployed to Somalia. Instead, in early 2007, the mission was expanded to invite willing members of the broader African Union, and dubbed the African Union Mission to Somalia (AMISOM).

African Union (AU)

By the authority of UN Security Council 1725, the member states of IGAD and the African Union (AU) are enchartered to conduct a peacekeeping mission to Somalia. Originally dubbed IGASOM, the mission would seek to put UN-sanctioned peacekeepers in the country for the first time since the 1992-1995 missions (UNOSOM I, UNITAF, and UNOSOM II). IGASOM never deployed to Somalia. Instead, in early 2007, the mission was expanded to invite willing members of the broader African Union, and dubbed the African Union Mission to Somalia (AMISOM).

On January 6, 2005 the original plans for the AU to put peacekeepers in Somalia was first agreed by the AU Peace and Security Council. Uganda was cited as the first nation to commit troops to the mission. Yet the mission did not materialize as planned. A year later, no AU or IGAD peacekeepers had been deployed.[29]

On December 23, 2006, the AU issued a release signed by AU President Alpha Oumar Konaré calling for a cease fire.[30]

On December 26, 2006, the AU implicitly backed Ethiopia's intervention on behalf of the Somalian Transitional Federal Parliament of the Somali Republic. AU spokesman Patrick Mazimhaka was quoted as saying "We do not criticise Ethiopia because Ethiopia has given us ample warning that they are threatened by the Islamic Courts group,".[31]

On January 14, 2007, an AU delegation arrived in Mogadishu to discuss the deployment of international peacekeepers. Mohamed Foum, the AU special representative for Somalia, said nine delegates had gone to speak to Somali leaders. However, challenges remained, and there was no agreement yet to send peacekeepers to the country.[32]

Yemeni Mediation

Flag of Yemen.svg

Yemeni President Ali Abdullah Saleh met separately with both TFG and ICU representatives respectively on December 5 and December 6 to see if rapprochement might be possible between the parties. However, for now, both parties said a dialogue was impossible because of increased tensions and fighting.[33][34]

Yemen has seen a tremendous rise in the number of Somali refugees—numbers have doubled this year to over 150,000. Over 650 refugees were eaten by sharks trying to cross the Red Sea.[35]

EU Efforts

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On December 20, 2006 just as major hostilities were breaking out, European Union Commissioner for Development and Humanitarian Aid Louis Michel conducted shuttle diplomacy between the TFG seat in Baidoa and the ICU government seat in Mogadishu. The warring parties agreed to talk, but the conflict continued to rage on, worrying observers whether the prospects of talks are moot for now.[36][37][38]

On December 25, the EU Presidency, held by Finland, issued a plea to end the fighting in Somalia.[39] EU Commissioner Louis Michel likewise called for the TFG and ICU to resume talks in Khartoum.[40]

On January 3, 2007, EU leaders met and agreed it was unlikely for them to send any peacekeepers to Somalia, and were also unclear about what financial assistance they might give a peacekeeping mission, but affirmed their interest to continue humanitarian support to the nation.[41]

Arab League (AL)

On December 23, 2006 Samir Hosni, Director of African Affairs for the Arab League called for a halt to the violence. The Arab League seeks to co-sponsor peace talks with the African Union.[42]

In Egypt, Somalia was discussed, as well as conflicts in Lebanon and Chad, at a meeting between Egyptian Foreign Minister Ahmad Aboul Gheit (also "Abu-al-Ghayt") and Sudanese Arab League envoy to Lebanon Mustafa Osman Ismail.[43]

On December 24, 2006 in Cairo, Arab League Assistant Secretary General for Political Affairs Ahmed bin Hilli made an appeal for a cessation of fighting in an interview with al-Arabiya television of Dubai.[44]

On December 26, an Arab League spokesman said his organization would like all hostilities to stop and warring parties to respect the binding agreements they signed before world community. He said Somalia doesn’t need outside intervention and Ethiopia must leave Somalia.[3]

United States

Flag of the United States.svg

On December 23, 2006, US Secretary of State, Condoleezza Rice met with Ugandan Foreign Minister Sam Kutesa to urge Uganda to take a leading role in establishing peacekeeping operations in Somalia through IGAD.[45]


While many individuals or groups are not empowered or chartered to officially taken direct intercession or binding action, they have expressed their desires and hopes for the future of a peaceful Somalia.

Organization Representative Flag/Emblem/Symbol
United Nations Outgoing Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon[46] Flag of UN
Organisation of the Islamic Conference (OIC) Secretary General Prof. Ekmeleddin Ihsanoglu[47] Flag of OIC.svg
US Conference on Catholic Bishops Bishop Thomas G. Wenski, Chairman[48]
Somali Diaspora Network[49]

Humanitarian Efforts

United Nations efforts

Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA)

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Eric Laroche was assigned as the UN Humanitarian Coordinator for all Somali relief efforts.[50]

"Engaging in conflict at a time when a significant segment of the population is already struggling for survival is unacceptable," Mr Laroche said. "More than ever, stability is now essential for the success of the ongoing humanitarian operation and all efforts should be entirely focused on alleviating the suffering of Somalis."
"The UN and its partners have just launched a humanitarian appeal to donors to enable the mobilization of a full humanitarian response. This, however, will not go far if we cannot then access populations in need and deliver assistance on the ground due to armed conflict."[51]

OCHA had deployed the UN Disaster Assessment and Coordination Team (UNDAC), but recently had to withdraw it due to security concerns regarding the heavy fighting.[26][52]

High Commissioner on Refugees (UNHCR)


The United Nations High Commissioner on Refugees (UNHCR)'s Deputy High Commissioner, Wendy Chamberlin, has spent a great deal of time focusing efforts on the Horn of Africa, which has been struck this year by terrible drought, followed by torrential floods.[53]

On December 26, 2006, UN High Commissioner on Refugees António Guterres made an appeal to end the crisis in the region and warned of large-scale displacements if fighting continued.[54]


UNICEF is providing care to 250,000 Somalis out of the 330,000 affected in the Shabelle and Juba river valley areas.[55] Among other programs, UNICEF is operating the Bay Project 1 (BP1) camp in Baidoa, close to the front of the fighting, for Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) who lived there even before the recent phase of the civil war.[56]

World Food Programme (WFP)

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The United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) is providing humanitarian relief to hundreds of thousands of persons in Somalia and over a million throughout the Horn of Africa during 2006. As of December 19, 2006, it was providing food to 278,000 of 455,000 affected Somalis.[57]

On December 24, 2006, a WFP-chartered Antonov-12 dropped 14 tons of food to Afmadow, cut off by recent flooding. Fifty trucks trying to reach Afmadow have been stuck in the mud for seven weeks.[58]

On December 27, WFP airdrop efforts were suspended and personnel relocated from Kismayo to Nairobi, Kenya, after the government put restrictions on flights. Ground operations continued.[59]

On January 2, WFP operations, including UN Common Air Services (UNCAS) flights, were resumed. Offices were reopened in Bu'aale and Wajid, and deliveries of food resumed to Afmadow province. A ship docked in Mogadishu on December 26 with 4,500 tons of food, and was finally able to offload its cargo while the port underwent the change of hands from the ICU to a local sub-clan, and finally to the TFG.[60]

International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC)

Emblem of the ICRC.svg

The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) has been operating continuously in Somalia since 1977, when famine and the Ogaden War caused humanitarian crises. In the case of 2006, their mission has been similarly set by alternating periods of severe drought and flooding, and calamities caused by man-made war.

On December 26, 2006 Antonella Notari, spokeswoman for the ICRC, declared over 800 war wounded had been taken in at Somali hospitals since the beginning of Ethiopian air strikes. She said that thousands were leaving the war zone and that it was too early to tell whether this was a temporary displacement.[61]

On December 31, 2006, a plane chartered by the ICRC on its way to Somalia with a load of fuel drums and aid supplies, crashed not long after taking off in Nairobi, Kenya. The crew of three survived.[62]

Somali Red Crescent Society (SRCS) / Ururka Bisha Cas

Flag of the Red Crescent.svg

The Somali Red Crescent Society (SRCS) is the national branch of the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC).

The local office in Baidoa is at the literal front lines of the civil war.[63][64]

Ahmed Gure of the SRCS was also on hand to witness the Ethiopian air strikes against Beledweyne on December 24, 2006:

An eyewitness told IRIN that aircraft, allegedly Ethiopian, had struck areas near the town of Beletweyne in Southern Somalia this morning. "Two jet airplanes bombarded the town this morning. They came back five times," said Ahmed Gure of the Somali Red Crescent Society (SRCS) in Beletweyne. He said the attack took about an hour. Gure said many of the town's population were only just starting to return from temporary camps after they were displaced by recent flooding, and "can ill-afford to move again, but I am afraid if the situation deteriorates they will move again."[58]

Médecins Sans Frontières / Doctors Without Borders Efforts

Doctors Without Borders/Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) organized flood relief earlier in 2006, in an effort known as the Galgaduud Project. It focused on nutrition, non-food related deliveries, dealt with war-related suffering, as well as medical care.[65]

On December 23, MSF Director of Operations Bruno Jochum expressed concern if military aircraft—especially US military aircraft—might be used to drop humanitarian aid because it risks misperceptions of connection between aid workers and the military, which might make it unsafe to continue working in Somalia.[66]

On February 16, 2007, a gunman attacked two MSF Spain staff in Baardheere. MSF doctors and staff are in the town working to reopen the largest hospital, which had been closed for the past decade. The workers were uninjured. Local tribal leaders pledged their support for the work of MSF in the region.[67]


CARE estimates 1.8 million people were pushed to the brink of starvation in the region due to drought, flood and civil war combined, while it could only provide food to 600,000 persons. Over 1 million lost their homes due to flooding.[8]

Save the Children-UK

Has protection officers looking after child welfare at the Dadaab refugee camps and assessing safety of border crossings into Kenya.[69]

Joined with other humanitarian NGOs to appeal to the warring factions to end the conflict.[68]

World Vision


Norwegian Church Aid

On December 31, 2006, spokeswoman Kari Øyen of Norwegian Church Aid (NCA), a member of ACT, reported that 10,000 people had been displaced to Garbaharrey by recent fighting. NCA was dispensing blankets and relief supplies.[70]


  1. ^ Ethiopia action in Somalia backed, BBC.
  2. ^ a b Ethiopia urged to leave Somalia, BBC.
  3. ^ a b Somalia: War bulletin for December 26, 2006, SomaliNet.
  4. ^ U.S. Backs Ethiopian Attacks in Somalia, Associated Press.
  5. ^ a b As Somalia fighting flares, Annan calls African leaders while envoy urges Council to act, UN.
  6. ^ Ethiopian, Somali troops advance towards Mogadishu, CNN.
  7. ^ Flood Waters Rise Faster than Funds for UN to Aid Hundreds of Thousands in East Africa UN Press Release
  8. ^ a b Drought, floods and conflict - triple emergency in Somalia CARE
  9. ^ U.N. reports "growing food insecurity" in Somalia Reuters
  10. ^ Somali Bantu Refugees US Department of State
  11. ^ Deputy High Commissioner Chamberlin visits flood-hit camps in Kenya UNHCR
  12. ^ a b Q&A: Africa's gathering storm - Somalia MercyCare
  13. ^ Millions live in refugee status Star Tribune
  14. ^ Political crisis in Somalia escalates Associated Press
  15. ^ Somalia on the Verge of Civil War CBN News
  16. ^ Number of Somali refugees voyaging to Yemen doubles Shabelle Media Networks
  17. ^ UNHCR issues clarification on Somali refugees in Ethiopia Xinhua
  18. ^ S/RES/1724 (2006): The situation in Somalia (PDF) UN Security Council
  19. ^ S/RES/1725 (2006): The situation in Somalia (PDF) UN Security Council
  20. ^ UN approves Somalia resolution MISNA
  21. ^ A pro-UN decision demonstration on Somalia happens in Baidoa Shabelle Media Network
  22. ^ Lifting arms embargo on Somalia angers Islamists Shabelle Media Networks
  23. ^ Controversy in Ugandan government over sending troops to Somalia Shabelle Media Network
  24. ^ Uganda in quandary of sending peacekeepers to Somalia Shabelle Media Networks
  25. ^ UN council sets urgent meeting on Somalia conflict Reuters
  26. ^ a b U.N. council Somalia emergency meeting UPI
  27. ^ Somalia peace talks stall at UN ABC News
  28. ^ Communique (PDF) IGAD
  29. ^ SOMALIA: African Union to deploy peacekeepers IRIN
  30. ^ Somalia Crisis Worries African Union Prensa Latina
  31. ^ AU backs Ethiopian strikes on Somalia ABC
  32. ^ "AU Visits Somalia for Peacekeeping Talks". Associated Press. 2007-01-14. http://www.cbsnews.com/stories/2007/01/15/ap/world/mainD8MLFN8O0.shtml. [dead link]
  33. ^ Somalia’s lawmaker visits Yemen as Egypt calls for fresh democratic election Shabelle Media Network
  34. ^ Somalia’s Islamists rules out talking with the transitional government Shabelle Media Network
  35. ^ Number of Somali refugees voyaging to Yemen doubles Shabelle Media Networks
  36. ^ Somalis clash as EU envoy jets in to push talks Reuters
  37. ^ Somalia: EU commissioner Louis Michel arrives in Mogadishu Shabelle Media Networks
  38. ^ Somalia: ICU and TFG accept peace dialogue as fighting continues SomaliNet
  39. ^ EU Presidency issues statement on Somalia Xinhua
  40. ^ EU condemns escalation of conflict in Somalia Xinhua
  41. ^ ROUNDUP: EU Unlikely To Send Peacekeepers To War-torn Somalia DPA
  42. ^ Arab League calls for dialogue to halt clashes in Somalia Xinhua
  43. ^ Egypt, Sudan discuss Lebanon, Somalia, Chad Sudan Tribune
  44. ^ Arab League calls for dialogue to halt fighting in Somalia Xinwua
  45. ^ Washington urges Uganda to ease Somalia’s Crisis Shabelle Media Networks
  46. ^ Annan calls for cessation of hostilities in Somalia PTI
  47. ^ The OIC Secretary General expresses concern over developments in Somalia OIC
  48. ^ U.S. Bishops express alarm over escalating violence in Somalia; long-term diplomacy and humanitarian support needed USCCB
  49. ^ Ethiopia-Somalia: Renewed Conflict in Somalia. Press Release
  50. ^ Eric Laroche, United Nations Humanitarian Coordinator for Somalia IRC
  51. ^ Somalia: Appeal to warring parties to exercise restraint United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA)
  52. ^ UNDAC OCHA
  53. ^ Deputy High Commissioner Chamberlin visits flood-hit camps in Kenya UNHCR
  54. ^ Guterres warns of possible large-scale displacement in Somalia UNHCR
  55. ^ UNICEF assisting 250,000 flood-hit Somalis UNICEF
  56. ^ Camp in Baidoa is home to IDPs UNICEF
  57. ^ U.N. reports "growing food insecurity" in Somalia Reuters
  58. ^ a b IRIN: More people flee as fighting spreads IRIN
  59. ^ WFP pulls staff from Somalia AFP
  60. ^ WFP operations in Somalia start to return to normal Reuters
  61. ^ At least 800 war wounded in Somalia -Red Cross Reuters
  62. ^ Aid plane crashes in Kenya Kenya London News
  63. ^ Field Operations in Somalia IFRC
  64. ^ Ururka Bisha Cas (Somali Red Crescent Society) SRCS
  65. ^ The Galgaduud Project, Somalia - 2006 MSF
  66. ^ Somalia faces humanitarian crisis as clashes continue
  67. ^ "A gunman opens fire at the employees of MSF Spain in southern Somalia". Shabelle Media Network. 2007-02-16. http://shabelle.net/news/ne2340.htm. Retrieved 2007-02-16. [dead link]
  68. ^ a b c Dozens killed as fighting rages in Somalia Xinhua
  69. ^ Children exposed to acute danger as fighting breaks out in Somalia Save the Children (Press Release)
  70. ^ Intensifies emergency response in Gedo, Somalia Norwegian Church Aid

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