After three years of war and inter-clan
fighting in Somalia under the violent regime of Siad Barre the north west
of the country declared itself the independent republic of Somaliland in
1991. The north-eastern province of Puntland also claims autonomy.
Despite the lack of official recognition of its claims for sovereignty Somaliland has made a remarkable recovery over the last decade. A peaceful transition between Presidents in 2002 was followed by recent successful local elections. Presidential and parliamentary elections are due to be held early this year.
In southern Somalia, however, violence and political instability continue to displace hundreds of thousands of Somalis within Somalia or to refugee camps outside the country. More than a dozen peace agreements have been brokered since 1991, but none have been successful.
The 'Transitional National Government' formed in 2000 remains unrecognised by the leaders of Somaliland, Puntland and Mogadishu-based clan factions and Somaliland is not taking part in the peace talks currently being held in Kenya. The peace process remains extremely fragile.
The events of 11 September 2001 had a significant impact on an already fragile economy. Following charges of aiding and abetting terrorism, the US authorities closed the Somali-owned Al-Barakaat banking and telecommunications systems and the ban by the Gulf States on imports of Somali livestock remains in place. Prices of staple goods have been rising exponentially. Somalia also remains vulnerable to floods and drought.
Christian Aid supports 5 partners in Somaliland and Somalia.
In Somaliland the Garghar Project uses drama, song, radio, TV and peer education in an attempt to reduce the spread of HIV. The Edna Adan Hospital has appointed a nurse tutor to train health workers and improve hospital management. Candlelight for Health and Education runs bee-keeping projects to help 40 returned refugee families diversify their income. International Cooperation for Development helps develop the skills and opportunities of local communities through a variety of training such as adult literacy and participation in local politics.
In Somalia Christian Aid works with Norwegian Church Aid to build a peaceful and democratic society by training local people and strengthening community structures.