Somalia Bi-Monthly Information Report , 1 Dec 1996 - 15 Jan 1997

from UN Department of Humanitarian Affairs
Published on 15 Jan 1997
01 Dec 1996 - 15 Jan 1997

-Twenty-six faction leaders concluded talks in Sodere, Ethiopia, on 3 January and announced the formation of a National Salvation Council.' Notably absent were Hussein Aidid and Mohamed Egal.

-South Mogadishu experienced the worst fighting since 1992 during mid-December. Large ammunition shipments were reported to have arrived in North Mogadishu.

-The cholera outbreak in Somalia has begun, but to date only 14 cases have been confirmed and no water sources have tested positive. Intensive joint efforts of UN Agencies, NGOs, local health authorities, religious leaders and communities are underway to advocate cholera prevention, especially during the Ramadan season.

-The success of the UNDP / UNCHS (Habitat) project which works directly with the local municipality in Hargeisa has prompted expansion to other towns in the Northwest.

- The UN Agencies together with the UN Department of Humanitarian Affairs launched a US$ 100.5 million Consolidated Inter Agency Appeal for Somalia on 16 December to cover emergency, reintegration, rehabilitation and governance needs during the period from October 1996 to December 1997.


Mogadishu / South Central Regions

The most intense fighting seen since 1992 rocked South Mogadishu from 1321 December between the forces of Hussein Aidid and those of Osman Atto, supported by Muse Sudi in the Medina district. Over 300 persons were reported to have lost their lives in these battles and over 1,400 were wounded, to the ICRC. A large number of these reported casualties were civilians. Many people fled the Medina district and places as far as Galcayo reported receiving new displaced families as a result of this fighting. No particular gains or losses in faction territory resulted from these battles, but militia continue to oppose each other along "green lines" in the Medina district and dividing North and South Mogadishu. Local press reported an increase of land mines in the Gezira district south of Mogadishu following these latest attacks. The President of the UN Security Council, which discussed the Somali situation on 18 December, released a statement on 20 December calling on all Somali factions to restore a cease-fire and ensure the safety of organisations and individuals carrying out humanitarian activities in Somalia.

On 26 December, a WHO convoy traveling from Merca to Mogadishu was looted of cholera supplies near the Afgoye area. Following investigation, the Aidid administration apprehended and executed the three men involved in the incident.

In North Mogadishu, the port of El Ma'an was closed for a short period during the third week of December due to the nonpayment of taxes by businessmen.

In both South and North Mogadishu, elders, religious leaders, and faction leaders reacted strongly to reports that Ethiopian government forces resumed attacks in the Gedo region.

Mogadishu was relatively quiet during the first half of January, although local press reported the arrival of some 70 MTs of weapons in North Mogadishu and later on the open market; the shipment was reported to have passed via the Ethiopian border, and Hussein Aidid's administration accused the Ethiopian government of violating the UN resolution 773 imposing an arms embargo to Somalia.

Following the Nairobi Peace Accord, General Mohamed Nur Galal, who was chosen as the mediator and facilitator for the implementation of the Nairobi statement, arranged a dialogue at the second level of leadership between the Hussein Aidid and Ali Mahdi sides. According to Gen. Galal, Hussein Aidid has not yet formally submitted the names of his representative for the further dialogue. Aidid apparently insists that he would not enter into dialogue with Osman Atto, whom he accuses of having violated the Nairobi statement by attacking his in south Mogadishu. Gen. Galal is attempting to persuade Aidid to accept the nominees of Osman Atto.

During the second week of January, the newly formed National Salvation Council (see "Meeting Concludes.." below ) protested to the UN Security Council that a large quantity of arms and counterfeit Somali shillings was arriving on a boat from Hong Kong to Merka port for Hussein Aidid.


Jowhar town was reported quiet during the period. North of Jowhar, however, there were some fighting and banditry incidents in the area between Jowhar and Bulo Burte. Galjael, Mobilen, as well as the militia of two Abgal subclans were reported to be involved in land property disputes in early December. Later in December the area was reported quiet, as elders negotiated the disputes between the subclans. The UNCT Security officer in the area advised agencies to use caution when traveling outside the city. On 30 December, MSF-Spain closed their operation in Jowhar due to dispute and threat from their former landlord, following their relocation to a premises offered by the community.

Bay / Gedo / Southwest Regions

In the Bay and Bakool regions, there were reports that tensions between the RRA and the militia of Hussein Aidid have decreased somewhat during the second half of December and the first half of January. Hussein Aidid was reported to have released 30 prisoners jailed in Baidoa since September 1995. Transportation between Wajid and Hoddur in the Bakool region was reported to have resumed, but there are still a number of mines causing fear amongst the general public in the area.

The border towns in the Gedo region are still experiencing unrest following reports of clashes between Ethiopian forces and AlItihad militia. During the first week of December, an attack was reported to have been launched by the AlItahad organisation on the border town of Dolo with a short but heavy shelling of the city, damaging the bridge linking the two countries. Later on 3 January, a counterattack was reported launched by the Ethiopian forces. Displaced families from the fighting along the Ethiopian border in the Gedo region were reported in the Bakool region. On 26 December, a spokesman from the Aidid administration issued a statement protesting the occupation of Somali territory in the Gedo region by forces and demanded their immediate withdrawal.

On 11 December, the MSF-France compound in Bardera was looted by armed men. No one was injured in the incident and the team was evacuated the following day.

Kismayo / Juba Valley / Southern Regions

During the second week of December, fighting was reported in the Mogambo area in the Juba Valley between forces of Hussein Aidid and Osman Atto on 11 and 18 December. Osman Atto's forces were reported to have regained the town. In Jilib, a negotiated return of Galjael families to the town was reported in late December; the families had earlier fled the town following a series of battles between the two groups. On 20 December in Kismayo, UNICEF relocated their international staff to Nairobi due to tension in the city. UNCT security officers are expected to travel to the town shortly for an assessment. Elsewhere, the Juba valley remained quiet.

A peace conference for the Lower and Middle Juba regions was held from 414 December in Afmadow, where over 250 persons and delegates from six main towns in the valley Kismayo, Hagar, Afmadow, Badade, Buale and Jilib participated. Participants included traditional elders and intellectuals, while political and military leaders were not invited. They committed to a cessation of hostilities and adopted the Islamic Sharia law. They also called for the cessation of banditry acts, especially to ensure the security of the international aid organisations, and expressed a desire to form local administrations for districts and regions. This meeting was called for in the spirit of solving regional differences prior to national reconciliation.

Northeast Regions

Bosasso and the Northeast regions remain calm. The Bosasso hospital was reported closed during the first half of December due to threats from former guards of the premises. Later local authorities were able to facilitate its reopening, but the issue is still not fully resolved. During the first half of January, some international staff were stopped at a checkpoint some 60 km north of Gardo along the Gardo Bosasso road, but no one was injured and local authorities agreed to investigate. This checkpoint was also noted as causing some problems earlier in November. In Galkayo, the tension has decreased and all sections of the city have been reported calm following between the Habar Gedir and Majerteen elders.

There were two reports received of offshore attacks of international vessels who were fishing illegally off the Somali coast. These reports are presently being investigated.

Hargeisa / Northwest Regions

Hargeisa, Borama and Berbera remain relatively calm. The "national congress" to elect a leader for "Somaliland" is proceeding in Hargeisa; no date has been specified for the end of the conference or the beginning of elections, but they are expected in February. Guidelines to be followed for the elections were agreed upon and a new "Somaliland" flag was introduced and endorsed by the congress during December, both of which have caused some political tensions. On the other hand, some 200 militiamen from the Muse Abdalla clan, a subclan of the Habar Yunis, were received by senior administration officials in Hargeisa during the first half of December, where they are due to be reintegrated into the "national" army. On 14 December, 10 intellectuals were reported arrested in Borama town, causing some tension in the area. The same day, the "Minister of Post and Telecommunication" was attacked by a group of persons with an unknown motive. In the first week of January, an ambush of the vehicle driving representatives of the "Minister of Interior and Foreign Affairs" on the road between Sheik and Hargeisa was reported. One policeman was killed and two other persons were injured in the incident.

The UN security officer for the area undertook an assessment of the Berbera Burao Yarowe area and reported that travel from Berbera to Yarowe is safe, but Burao town remains insecure, and stopovers in Burao are not recommended.

During the first half of December the "Somaliland" shilling fluctuated between 5,335 and 5,600 to the US dollar, but later in the month the currency appreciated to 4,500 to the US dollar, with immediate affect on the prices of essential commodities and fuel for residents.

Meeting Concludes in Sodere; 27 Faction Leaders sign agreement. The effort initiated by the Ethiopian government to bring together Somali faction leaders in Sodere, Ethiopia, ended on 3 January. Following eight weeks of negotiations, twenty seven representatives signed a communique outlining the formation of a National Salvation Council (NSC) and plans for a National Reconciliation Conference to take place in Bosasso in the future to approve the charter of a "Transitional Central Authority" or "Provisional Central Government." The NSC participation includes a rotating five member cochairmanship, and 11 member Executive Committee, and a 41 member legislative group. Although spaces on the Executive Committee of this council were reportedly "reserved" for the absent Hussein Aidid and "President" Egal of "Somaliland," it is yet unclear exactly how their involvement will be pursued.


Emergency Highlights

Vulnerable Areas are Emerging after a less productive Deyr season and Lack of Rain. The household food security situation for the most vulnerable populations in several regions of southern Somalia is expected to deteriorate in February 1997, following poor rains, and in some cases, insecurity in these areas. A WFP/ FAO survey conducted in November and December 1996 covering eight regions (Middle and Lower Juba; Middle and Lower Shabelle; Gedo; Hiraan; Bakool and Bay regions ) revealed that the 1996/97 Deyr harvest would likely be 45 percent less that the previous year, and 35 percent less than the 198288 prewar average. According to the FSAU, the poor crop performance can been attributed mainly to the delayed and insufficient rains which fell in an erratic distribution pattern. The survey also noted a 225 percent decrease in the total area cultivated. Bay was the hardest hit area, followed by Lower Shabelle. However, Lower and Middle Juba valley production increased over last year's figures due mainly to planting in the receding areas of the 1996 Gu floods and the increased use of water pumps.

Somali populations in the hardest hit areas will have to rely on traditional coping mechanisms to carry them over to the next Gu harvest. The FSAU noted that farmers traditionally resort to other crops, fruit trees, wild fruits, roots and leaves as well as their animals and byproducts, while agropastoralists and pure pastoralist will move to search for temporary employment or rely on trade and small scale income generation (selling of camels and livestock, dried stalks of crops, firewood, and honey) during these times. Many Somali families will also be relying on remittances received from inside and outside of the country. The FSAU expects to undertake a full Deyr crop assessment during the second half of January to confirm the most vulnerable areas.

Extensive statistical and historical data compiled by USAID FEWS, WFP's FSAU, and SCFUK's Food Economy Assessment Team (FEAT) programme has enabled USAID FEWS to quantify the expected cereal gap for Somalia in the first half of 1997 as well as the likely most vulnerable food economy groups.(*See Endnote).Given crop performances, farmer stocks, and coping mechanisms, USAID FEWS has estimated that the national cereal gap to be 58,436 MTs of cereal required for vulnerable groups for the period January-July 1997. The regions most affected will be the Bay, Gedo, Lower Shabelle, Bakool, and Lower Juba regions and the most affected food economy groups will be those living in the "rain ed sorghum camel belt" and the "cattle agro pastoral belt" (as tentatively designated by USAIDFEWS Somalia). To fill this cereal gap, USAID FEWS recommends that food cereals provided as aid should be sold at market prices through local auctions and that food for work only be used in more severe areas. The Somalia Food Security Task Force which includes UN Agencies, NGOs and donors is actively monitoring changes in the food security situation.

*Endnote: A full description and tentative map of the food economy groups in Somalia can be obtained through USAIDFEWS Somalia through Mr. Phillip Steffen.

Reports of extremely dry conditions effecting movement of families and livestock deaths have been reported in the Sanaag, Bay, Hiraan, and Bakool regions; agencies monitoring the situation in the field and through the Food Security Task Force do not feel that there is an emergency situation at this time, but are closely monitoring the areas. In early January, there were reports of drought conditions in Northeast Kenya, in particular Mandera, Wager, Garissa, and Isiolo. In Somalia, the first quarter of the year is a seasonally dry period and time when nomadic movements are greater to find fresh grazing grounds.

Health and Nutrition Update

Although in November, slight increases to feeding centres were noted by NGOs in the Gedo and Middle Juba regions, WHO reported that there were no reports of a deteriorating nutritional situation in any part of Somalia during December. early January, IMC released results of a rapid nutritional survey in the norther Hiraan region, which reported global malnutrition at 22.4 percent (up from 13.4 percent in August 1996) and 3.8 percent severe malnutrition (up from 1.9 percent in August 1996). As food stocks are utilized for the most vulnerable families in January, and if cholera cases rise, agencies will be closely monitoring the nutritional situation in early 1997. WFP's FSAU has hired a full time nutritionist, and a nutrition task force for Somalia has been established. To date, the group has developed and agreed upon guidelines related to the conduct of nutrition surveys in Somalia, which underscores the importance of using common methodology for comparability of data, statistically accepted sampling frames and procedures, peer review of protocol prior to field work and presentation of survey date to the nutrition review group to comment before publication.

During December, UNICEF provided 15,800 kg of Supermix to their Supplementary Feeding Centres / MCHs in Kismayo and 80 bags of Supermix were provided to MSF-Belgium for their Therapeutic Feeding Centres. WFP also assisted MSF-BELGIUM with a food shipment which arrived on 26 December. In Middle Juba, food allocations for food for work projects were allocated to World Vision by WFP for beneficiaries in Bualle. In Mogadishu, an average of 6,600 children and mothers benefitted from supplementary feeding through UNICEF run centres in Mogadishu. In Mogadishu and Kismayo, Vitamin A and Iron supplements were provided to a total of 10,364 children and mothers.

In early December, participants from seven villages of the Odweine district in the Northwest attended a seven day workshop for community health workers. A joint initiative between the "Ministry of Health and Labour" (MOHL) of the Northwest, a local NGO ADO and UNICEF, the workshop upgraded the skills of the community health workers in order for them to provide more efficient services and increase attendance at the health posts. Also during December, UNICEF released funds to the "Ministry of Health and Labour" in the Northwest to begin the production of a Somali language manual which will offer guidelines on infant feeding and weaning. The manual is expected to assist health workers and women's groups in nutrition education programmes.

Cholera Update

Thursday 9 January, the Somalia Cholera Task Force reviewing the latest reports from the country, reported that 14 confirmed cholera cases have been diagnosed in Mogadishu city. No other confirmed cases were reported from the other parts of the country. WHO released 25 percent of all of the stocks held in Merca for use in Mogadishu and Middle Shabelle. Cases have been reported in the Dadaab camp inside Kenya, where UNHCR and other agencies are enhancing health education and personal hygiene in all camps. In Somalia, cholera task forces with joint participation of UN Agencies, NGOs, local authorities, and communities have been very proactive to put in place effective public information, sanitation and case management programmes. WHO and UNICEF are also ensuring that cholera supplies in strategic locations are being handed over to implementing NGOs and Somali professionals. UNICEF has stocked all of their MCHs and health posts with Oral Rehydration Salts and trained community health workers on the best method of Oral Rehydration Therapy. In Mogadishu during December, UNICEF in collaboration with NGOs and the local Joint Health Authority chlorinated an average of 550 wells, 17 ice factories and 30 water tanks on a daily basis. WHO reports that no water samples have tested positive for cholera so far, an indication of the hard work undertaken by a variety of groups in the country.

A History of Cholera in Somalia: 1994/1996

WHO in conjunction with UN Agencies, NGOs and local authorities developed an extensive cholera preparedness plan for Somalia and "Somaliland" in late 1996. The following text is excerpted from the plan:

"Epidemiological data collected by WHO since February 1994 has established a clear seasonal pattern for cholera in Somalia. In the last three years, 49973 cholera cases have been reported to WHO with 1867 deaths (a case fatality rate of 3.7 percent) All regions of Somali have at one time reported cases. The most problematic areas with reference to morbidity and mortality remain Mogadishu, Lower Juba, Bay Region and Bosasso. Although no cases were reported from Hargeisa in 1996, previous epidemics in Hargeisa have caused unusually high mortality. The organism responsible for Cholera in Somali in 1994 was exclusively Vibrio cholera serogroup 01, Ogawa Serotype, El Tor. In 1996, Inaba Serotype was isolated from a few cases in Mogadishu and Jowhar. Monitoring of the sensitivity pattern has been undertaken from 1994. Whereas the in 1994 was sensitive to all commonly used antimicrobiais, by 1996 V. Cholera remains sensitive to only erythromycin and tetracycline. Chlorination of water has been maintained as an important control strategy in the last 3 years. Whereas a significant number of water samples were positive for cholera in 1994/95, no water samples tested positive in 1996. A public information campaign has been intensified during outbreaks using local radios, BBC, radio voice of peace, printed material (posters and flyers ), group talks, religious leaders, etc. Significant achievements have been in the change in behavior for Somalis to accept and even demand chlorine in their waters. Cholera is now considered endemic in Somali. Outbreak are likely to continue given the completely destroyed water and sanitation system."

Fighting Tuberculosis in Somalia

WHO reports that due to the increased interest in programmes to combat Tuberculosis, which requires long term therapy, more TB programme managers will be trained in 1997. The newly opened Bossaso and Borama TB Centres are now fully functional. In April 1997, the WHO regional office for the East Mediterranean will hold the first round of training for five Somali TB managers in Iran, in order to build managerial and technical capacity among Somali nationals in all existing TB programmes. WHO, EEC, and PSF are working with the Essential Drugs working group to streamline the procurement and supply of drugs, and TB drugs have been given first priority.

Somali Scientists to Undertake Malaria and STD Studies in the Country. The Swedish government (SIDA) has approved a grant to WHO to utilize three highly qualified Somali scientists living in Sweden to undertake malaria and STD studies in Somalia. WHO considers such a utilization of Somali professional talent to participate in health development in today's Somalia a top priority.


ICRC Assessment of Flood Protection Structures in Lower and Middle Juba. In May 1996, late Gu season rains caused major flooding in the lower riverain areas of the Juba valley, particularly the Jilib, Jamama and Kamsuma areas. Vast areas of agricultural land were destroyed due to damaged, destroyed or poorly dykes, which in the past helped to prevent such flooding. ICRC initially helped to repair two of the worst breaches of the flood protection dykes in August, which helped prevent further flooding in September. Following a number of requests to undertake similar repairs, the ICRC fielded a mission in November and December to assess all of the dykes of the Juba Flood Protection System. The Juba river originates in Ethiopia and covers more that 220,000 sq. km, of which only 34 percent is inside Somalia. There are areas along the river where farmers have traditionally used receding overflows to plant crops. But this method risks the farm being destroyed by subsequent flooding. Prior to the civil war, the former Somali government, commercial banana farmers, the Juba sugar project, and Fanole rice farm had all erected various types of small and main dykes to protect farms from frequent flooding. Nonetheless, due to the lack of an overall and consistent protection system, prewar flood damage to agricultural crops and infrastructure was estimated at an average of about US$ 3 million annually. In its survey, the ICRC identified approximately 100 damaged or potentially dangerous spots at river dyke sites. From February to April 1997, the ICRC will begin repairs of these spots with the assistance of the local communities. Rehabilitation will decrease the risk to farmers in the area, mostly vulnerable Bantu families, as well as reduce flood damage. Many of these families moved to Kismayo and toward the Kenyan border area following the devastating May floods of 1996, and it is hoped that this type of rehabilitation activity can help to prevent such a movement in the future. Where feasible and possible, locally available pipes will be put at the base of the dykes to enable farmers to start or continue controlled flood water harvesting for limited irrigation activities.


Education Update

UNESCO and UNICEF continue to upgrade Somali education through teacher training, provision of supplies, and textbook printing. The steering committee of the Somali Education Coordination Group met at UNESCO during December and began drafting operations guidelines for the common use of all UN Agencies and NGOs involved in the education sector.

A report with recommendations for Secondary and Tertiary education has been submitted to donors by the African Educational Trust and UNESCO and, if accepted, is expected to result in the restarting of a few secondary schools and the provision of some scholarships to Somali students whose university studies were disrupted by the outbreak of the Civil War. Three secondary schools were reported opened in the Northwest during December, where English textbooks for Somali students developed by UNESCO are being used. During the second week of December, UNICEF finalized a guide together with local authorities for Koranic Schools which contains two year course material for Koranic school children and chapters on literacy, numeracy and facts for life. Meanwhile, UNESCO writers have successfully completed the writing of Grade 5 textbooks and teacher guides. Copies are currently being printed in Mogadishu and 5th and 6th grade teachers in the Somali refugee camps of Djibouti were given training from the new guides. Also in these camps, UNHCR and UNESCO have constructed extra classrooms, where student enrollment is currently 2,079, and UNESCO is recruiting additional teachers to cope with the increase. The well tested Teacher Emergency Package or TEP developed by UNESCO PEER in 1993 has been introduced in Borama, Berbera and Sheik through teacher training workshops during the period.

Ongoing Activities in the Hiraan region, a Zone in Transition.' The 19961997 UN Joint Appeal defines a zone of transition as an area or region which is experiencing a level of governance, security and economic activity which neither indicates full recovery nor crisis. In other words, some rehabilitation work is possible in these areas. The Appeal highlights these areas as priority for donor funding in 1997 in order to encourage the development of anchors of stability and recovery in southern Somalia. The Hiraan region of central Somalia has experienced a period of relative peace over the last fifteen months or so, and as a result, a number of NGOs ( and UN Agencies working with NGOs) have been able to establish preventive emergency and initial rehabilitation programmes. As a result of their modest successes, a number of other agencies expect to become involved in the area, depending on funding. USAID hosted a Hiraan regional coordination meeting toward the end of November, where agencies active in the region shared information and strategy for future implementation. Currently, ICRC, and three NGOs (SCFUK, OXFAM Quebec, and IMC (supported by UNICEF) have activities in the areas. Activities include support to health posts (ICRC and IMC) and outpatient dispensaries (IMC), seed distribution (ICRC and SCFUK), fishing and veterinary assistance (ICRC), support, including tools, pesticide management, fertilizer, and irrigation (SCFUK); borehole rehabilitation and latrine construction (SCFUK) The NGO COSV has recently established a rehabilitation programme for the Belet Weyne hospital. Programmes in the fields of water and sanitation, primary health care, and education are currently under review by donors.


Urban Settlements Governance and Management Programme Expands Geographically and Sectorally Working with local government in the Northwest has been a positive experience for many UN Agencies in 1996, and in 1997 this cooperation is expected to continue and expand. The UNDP / UNCHS "Habitat" project entitled "Urban Settlements Governance and Management Programme" intends to replicate the positive experience of working in Hargeisa with the local municipality to the towns of Berbera and Bosasso in 1997. As outlined in the 1996/1997 UN Joint Appeal, such support to local governance creates an enabling environment which facilitates the resumption of economic activities and the resettlement and in