Somalia Humanitarian Situation Report 16 Jan 28 Feb 1997

from UN Department of Humanitarian Affairs
Published on 01 Mar 1997
Period covered: 16 January-28 February 1997

- Mohamed Ibrahim Egal has been re-elected for a second five-year term as -President of Somaliland.- His first priority is recognition for the country.

- Joint drought task forces including local authorities, UN, and NGOs began water trucking and borehole repair in the Northwest and Northeast regions, A plan of action for assistance for the southern and central regions of the country seeks funding after endorsement from the SACB.

- Although malnutrition has not shown any general increase, many of the new arrivals in the Therapeutic Feeding Centres in Mogadishu over the last three months have come from outside the city.

- Ali Mahdi and Hussein Aidid signed joint statement on the UN Appeal for Somalia calling for urgent funding to meet the basic needs of the Somali people.


Mogadishu - South Central Regions

The period began positively, with Hussein Aidid and Ali Mahdi meeting on the green line at the Hotel Ramadan on 20 January, their first meeting in Mogadishu since Hussein Aidid has been in power. The groups discussed issues outlined in the Nairobi accord as well as setting up technical committees to address these issues at length. Mr. Dominik Langenbacher, UN Humanitarian and Resident Coordinator for Somalia visited Mogadishu on 22 January and 19 February to discuss these initiatives. Mr. Sigurd Illing, EU Special Envoy also visited the area on 23 January. However, toward the end of the period, the implementation of these issues appeared to be snagged on the issue of the inclusion of Osman Ato in the greater Benadir reconciliation. Some of the concrete results of the reconciliation which the Somali people as well as the international community are awaiting include: the dismantling of the green line, the re-opening of the airport and seaports, and the establishment of a joint police force.

Meanwhile, the security situation in North Mogadishu appeared to deteriorate somewhat during the period. Tension remained following the ousting of Sheik Ali Dhere from his former position as head of the Sharia court in North Mogadishu. On 10 February, heavy fighting was reported for one hour between Ali Mahdi's forces and supporters of Sheik Ali Dhere. A number of new roadblocks were reported and the airport area was tense. By 13 February, several of the NGO staff relocated temporarily to Nairobi while the situation defused. Elders and prominent businessmen organised a reconciliation meeting as of 16 February, and as of 19 February, Sheik Ali Dhere was reported to be re-instated as Chair of the Sharia court. This appeared to improve the security situation, and NGO staff returned to North Mogadishu during the third week of February.

During the first week of February, a UNICEF-hired convoy transporting supplies from Merka to Mogadishu was attacked by Osman Ato militia, and some supplies were stolen. The Aidid administration intervened and were able to secure the return of the items. On 15 February, further fighting was reported between Hussein Aidid and Osman Ato militia at the K-7 (Afgoye road) area, where 15 persons were killed and another 25 wounded. Sporadic fighting in this area was reported during the remainder of February.

Jowhar - Central Regions

Jowhar town remained somewhat tense following developments in North Mogadishu. A shooting incident took place on 15 February when 3 armed men refused to surrender their weapons to local police just outside Jowhar town. There were also indications of a build-up of militia loyal to Sheik Ali Dhere in the area.

MSF-Spain programmes remained suspended throughout the months of January and February, due to a dispute with a former landlord. On 24 January, the SACB wrote a letter to the Governor of the Middle Shabelle region in support of the MSF-Spain decision and requesting the Jowhar local authorities to positively resolve the issue in accordance with the SACB Code of Conduct. MSF-Spain was able to resume their presence on 2 March following the agreement reached with their landlord to relocate MSF-S residential quarters to a building given by the local authorities.

In the Hiraan region, fighting between the Hawadle and Badi Ade families was reported in the Bulo Burti and Jialalaxi districts during the first week of February. The fighting was related to a dispute between two individuals, but later escalated, killing an estimated 17 persons. Elders intervened the following days, and the dispute was settled. The area has since been reported quiet.

Kismayo - Juba Valley - Southern Regions

Kismayo town and the Juba valley remained somewhat tense throughout the period. Vehicle looting incidents between the Marehan and Majerteen clans caused tension during the first half of February. During the last week of February in the Badade area, some tension was reported between the Tolomogue and Muqabul families, both sub-clans of the Absame Ogaden clan. A car traveling from Hagar to Kismayo was ambushed by gunmen 30 km northwest of Kismayo, wounding three persons. Fighting later broke out between rival clans in the Juba Valley 30 kms west of Jilib town, where six persons were killed and two vehicles looted. Kismayo port and airport were reported functioning. Gen. Morgan was absent from Kismayo during the period. The fluctuating situation caused all international staff of UN and other agencies to be temporarily relocated for varying periods of time, hence interrupting efficient programme delivery.

Bay - Gedo - Southwest Regions

In late January, an outbreak of fighting between the Ethiopian army and supporters of the Al-Itahad fundamentalist organisation took place in the Belet Hawa and Dolow districts in northern Gedo region. Later, an increased build-up of military weaponry was noted on both sides. On 24 February, the two groups clashed for three hours in the area of Bulo Hawa. Bardera and the southern portion of Gedo were reported quiet, despite earlier threats made against MSF-France in Bardera, related to construction work in the Bardera hospital.

In Bay and Bakool regions, renewed fighting was reported to have taken place on Tuesday 11 February between members of the Rahanweyne Resistance Army (RRA) and militia of the Hussein Aidid administration. The surrounding areas are still reported heavily mined, one report of a blown-up vehicle was received during the period. During the third week of February, unconfirmed reports indicted the closure of the Wajir - Hoddur main road following renewed fighting between two sub-clans of the Rahanweyne family in the area. This area remained tense for the remainder of February.

Northeast Regions

Bossaso and the Northeast regions remain generally calm, with a few minor incidents. On 31 January, the WFP warehouse in Bossaso was surrounded by 20 armed people protesting against the Bossaso administration. Police were sent to the area and quietly disarmed and dispersed the protesters. On 2 February, early in the morning, two families fought for 30 minutes in the city over a land issue. During the fighting, 3 policemen and 1 civilian were injured. The Bossaso hospital reopened during the first week of February, after having been closed for several weeks due to a dispute with the ex-guards. The Bari administration replaced the guards with local police, and Africa-70 was subsequently able to open a cholera centre in the hospital. However, the ex-guards family remain in the city and the issue continues to be monitored closely. Following capture of their ship due to -illegal fishing- in late December, 36 Pakistani crew members of a fishing vessel were seen in Bossaso during the period, unrestrained. In Galkayo on 23 February, a shooting incident left four persons dead. Although investigations are still ongoing, the shooting was thought to be a move to destabilize the peaceful balance between different clans in the area. General Mohammed Abshir Muse was re-elected for another year as chairman of the SSDF.

Hargeisa - Northwest Regions

In Hargeisa on 23 February, the -national congress- or Gurti re-elected Mr. Mohamed I. Egal as -President of Somaliland- for a second five-year term. He gained 223 out of 315 votes. Hargeisa town and the surrounding areas were reported calm following the elections. Earlier on 16 February, the members of the National Congress meeting in Hargeisa since October 1996 endorsed the National Constitution. In his inaugural speech, Mr. Egal promised to work for recognition for -Somaliland- and to set up political parties, and called on Ethiopia to cease interfering in the internal affairs of his government.

On 28 January in Borama, two rifle-propelled grenades were fired at the residence of two Egyptian school teachers. No person was injured, and police continue to investigate the incident. On 13 February, a delegation from the Egal administration, comprised of a representative from the Ministry of Interior and the director of water resources for the Sanaag region, was attacked in a town named Fahigab, 100 KM South of Erigavo. During the incident, the director of water resources was kidnapped and later released, while the representative from the Ministry of Interior and the driver were wounded in the forehead and in the hand, respectively.

Other News

UN Security Council Reviews the Situation in Somalia

The Secretary-General submitted a report to the Security Council on the situation in Somalia on 17 February. On 26 February, the President of the Security Council released a statement which commended the recent regional efforts to promote peace and reconciliation for the country, but reiterated the responsibility for solutions remains with the Somali people. In particular, the Security Council referenced the Sodere and Nairobi initiatives as positive efforts toward peace and national reconciliation. A strong appeal for more financial support toward the UN Consolidated Inter-Agency Appeal for Somalia was made, to date the Appeal for USD 100.5 million dollars has only received one contribution of USD 100,000 from the Australian government. Ali Mahdi and Hussein Aidid signed a joint statement in support of the UN Appeal as of 13 February. The statement noted, -We request the international community to contribute generously to this appeal while we are moving toward the realization of reconciliation in the country as a whole and in Mogadishu and Benadir region in particular.- On the 17 February, the SSDF also made an official statement supporting the UN Appeal.



Drought Update

Pockets of drought conditions, including stress on livestock and human livelihoods, are endemic in Somalia during late January to early March, within the jilaal or dry season. This year, the situation was aggravated by the late-arriving and short-lasting Deyr season rains in November. Water catchments in many rural areas were therefore not sufficiently filled, and this has caused a general movement of population toward those places where permanent water sources (wells, boreholes) are in existence. Although lack of or poor quality of water leads to poor health, nutrition, and food security, the emergency situation in Somalia at present can be classified as a water emergency, not necessarily a food emergency. All assistance at present is still dependent on the arrival of Gu rains in April. If such rains do not materialize, the drought problem could have devastating effects on health and nutrition of the population.

Given the lack of government, and hence lack of national response or the ability to declare the country a disaster area, the drought problem is assessed on a regional basis. The existing networks of local authorities and international agencies in both the Northwest and Northeast regions have been able to facilitate response to the conditions relatively quickly and efficiently, while developing longer-term solutions for the future. The response to drought conditions in central and southern Somalia-- including Galgaduud southward -- is more complicated, given the lack of an overall authority in any one region, the insecurity, logistical difficulties, and varied presence of international and local agencies with the capacity to assist in the response. Under the UN Joint Appeal for Somalia, UNICEF, in its capacity as Fund Receipts Manager, convened the Emergency Executive committee meeting to look at the situation in these areas jointly with the Food Security Task Force for Somalia, including UN Agencies, NGOs, and donors. In late January, three potential problem areas were first identified by the FSTF: Gedo, Lower - Middle Juba, and Hiraan regions. Following initial assessments by technical groups during the second half of January, only the Gedo region was identified as an area which required immediate assistance. On 13 February, UNICEF and WFP undertook a joint mission to the region and noted empty water catchments and movement of population from rural areas towards Bardera, Sakow and Buale towns. Although some wells were still supporting the local population and livestock, water sources were generally poor. Crops were observed, but the harvest was reported very poor due to poor and short rain. In the markets, food was available but prices were high. Livestock conditions were reported to be good. A detailed plan for both water and food needs in the southern and central regions was designed by the Emergency Committee and Food Security Task Force and presented to donors during the 27 February SACB meeting. Detailed plans for the Northwest and Northeast regions were designed by the field task forces together with the local authorities and has also been presented to donors for funding. Water trucking, and borehole repair has commenced in both of these areas.

Following the presentation of a drought response strategy document for the southern and central parts of Somalia during the 27 February SACB meeting, the humanitarian community has been informed of the needed actions, and funds required to undertake such response. To date, the German government has agreed to fund the water trucking component of the response.

Both the UNCT and the SACB released statements to Somali leaders due to the overwhelming number of requests received by various groups. The UNCT stated that they could respond appropriately to emergency situations in the country if free movement of personnel and supplies can be guaranteed by the relevant authorities and communities, for example through the use of Mogadishu seaport and airport, and if adequate funding from donors is received. The SACB statement emphasized that -the primary responsibility to respond to the distress of the most vulnerable member of the Somali population rests with the Somali leaders.- The statement also noted the responsibility of these authorities to promote reconciliation and peace to end problems on a long-term basis. A serious issue behind the effect of the drought is the growing number of livestock, and the decreasing grazing land accrued by the lack of accessible water sources for people and livestock. The UNCT proposes to embark on a long water development together with the relevant authorities and local population to decrease the vulnerability of Somalia where it faces the recurring drought situation under the Joint UN Strategy and Programmes of the Appeal.

Health and Nutrition Update

While the total number of admission to both Therapeutic and Supplementary feeding centres remained stable for the month of February, Action Contre la Faim (ACF) reports that many of the new arrivals in Mogadishu have come from outside the town in the last three months. In South Mogadishu, 51 percent of persons receiving feeding assistance are displaced persons. ACF also reports that 562 new families have arrived in the main displaced camp of Mogadishu South and 80 percent of them came from the Bay region. ACF currently supports an average of 300 severely malnourished children under five through four Therapeutic Feeding Centres and an average of 6030 children and family members through eight Supplementary Feeding Centres. Recent security incidents threaten the continuation of some of these centres.

In several parts of Baidoa and Bakool regions, UNICEF national staff noted a shortage of food and water, with increased prices of food on the market. Internally displaced persons continue to arrive in Baidoa town from villages hit by drought.

In Bossaso during the second half of February, a team of Saudi Arabian eye specialists arrived to carry out operations to remove cataracts from about 200 patients. The visit, which lasted eight days, was coordinated by the local NGO Somali Welfare Society. The team will provide some drugs along with the eye treatments .

Cholera Update

WHO reported that on 25 February, there has been a cumulative total of 359 cholera cases treated including 9 deaths in Mogadishu North. In South Mogadishu, no data are currently available, however, many of the patients seen in the Forlannai treatment centre (N. Mog.) had arrived from the south. In Merka, latest figures reported by COSV indicate a cumulative total of 99 cholera cases, including 4 death. In Kismayo, MSF-B reported in mid-February a cumulative number of 106 cases with no death. Organisations in Baidoa, Bossaso, and Hargeisa have not yet reported any confirmed cases. WHO , for the entire country reported a total cumulative number of 564 cases including 13 deaths.

UN - NGO- Local community Cholera prevention effort

This year's reduced outbreak can be directly attributed to the increased planning ahead and extensive cholera awareness and prevention campaigns ongoing throughout the country, through the cooperation of UN Agencies, NGOs, and local communities. In Bossaso, cholera preparedness and prevention measures include daily public pronouncements on cholera prevention measures by women's groups. UNICEF, in collaboration with school teachers, organised a procession involving school children to increase community awareness. During the procession, the singing school children displayed banners with cholera prevention messages and distributed pamphlets to the public. On 22 January, another procession was held by women's groups in Bossaso. The procession lasted for three hours with more than 150 women participating. The women sang traditional songs highlighting cholera prevention measure such as cleaning of the environment and better hygiene. The Bari Women's Umbrella group also initiated garbage collection and sanitation services in Bossaso.

During February, to raise awareness of cholera prevention, a football competition was held, including eleven teams competing. A trophy donated by UNICEF Bossaso was given to the winning team, -Kaaha,- by the Governor of Bari region, Sheikh Yusuf Ali Said. Staff from organisations in the region, regional administration members and the leadership of the Somali Salvation Democratic Front (SSDF) were part of the crowd estimated at 6,000 that watched the finals on 17 February.

In Mogadishu, chlorination activities continued with some 265 wells, 45 berkads (cemented water reservoirs) and 14 ice factories being chlorinated on a daily basis during the reporting period. In Mogadishu South, some 226 wells, three water tanks and 11 ice factories were chlorinated during the reporting period. In Kismayo, some 194 public wells and 3,060 private wells - water reservoirs were chlorinated on a daily basis by community volunteers and member of households who were trained and provided with chlorine by UNICEF. In Jowhar, 12 mosques and their imams have been assisting in delivering anti-cholera messages to the public. Well owners in Jowhar have taken responsibility to chlorinate their own wells.

Other Health News:

WHO Somalia has begun an intensive programme to train TB managers in Somalia. The first group of five TB managers will attend an inter-regional training course in Iran in April. TB managers from Luuq, Garbarharrey, Hargeisa, Bossaso, and Mogadishu will attend the course. Another course organised in conjunction with the International Union Against TB is scheduled to be held in November in Arusha, Tanzania for the remaining TB managers. Meanwhile in Bossaso, the first group of 12 patients finished treatment with 0 percent default rate. A new group of 36 patients started treatment in January. The unique feature about this programme was that the patients had to deposit money which was refunded only on condition that they completed treatment. All patients received their refunds in full.

To help fight malaria, two Somalis from southern Somalia and two from the Northwest are developing a country-wide malaria plan with the assistance of the WHO regional office in Alexandria. They are funded from a USD 200,000 grant from the Director General of WHO to support malaria control activities.

During the second half of February, WHO investigated reports of nine cases of Meningitis in North Mogadishu. Although five had been clinically diagnosed as meningitis, the laboratory work was not conclusive. From the information available, the WHO team, assisted by MSF-Spain, concluded that these cases were likely hemophilus influenza. However, all NGOs and private clinics in Mogadishu have been requested to intensify surveillance. In 1996, WHO prepared and distributed detailed epidemic meningitis preparedness and response guidelines.


On 14 February, the Executive Committee for Reintegration under the UN Joint Appeal held its first meeting, chaired by UNHCR. The same week, an informal meeting was convened by the Netherlands Embassy to discuss the repatriation of rejected Somali asylum seekers to Somalia. On 28 February, UNHCR began the relocation of refugees from the Swaleh Nguru camp in coastal Kenya to the Dadaab and Kakuma camps in Northeast Kenya, 316 refugees -- the majority of Somali origin -- moved in convoy site to the new location. This comes after repeated demands from the Kenyan government to close the coastal refugee camps. A total of 172,680 refugees remain in Kenya..

In the Middle and Lower Juba regions, UNHCR has increased the number of Quick Impact Projects -- or QIPs -- in the water sector to aid the drought situation. The American Refugee Committee (ARC) is working together with UNHCR, UNICEF, and WFP to ensure that populations are discouraged from moving toward the Kenyan border in hopes of food distribution. ARC is coordinating borehole repair, construction of latrines, and income generation activities. WFP together with World Vision continues to monitor the distribution of 225 MTs of locally procured sorghum In Bualle.

During the second week of February, the UNHCR Head of Cross Border Operations, Mr. E. Hounsokou, visited Bossaso and reported that UNHCR is finalizing operations with local authorities for the repatriation of approximately 1,200 refugees from Yemen.

In Mogadishu, UNICEF undertook visits to Gohio Goran and Stadio Mogadishu IDP camps. The UNICEF WES officer provided wheelbarrow, brooms, and racks to improve sanitary conditions in the camps. UNICEF also plans to support construction of sanitation facilities including pit latrines for the benefit of about 60 families in two IDP camps in Mogadishu.

Resettlement: UNHCR reports that in 1996, 8,940 refugees were resettled to various third countries. Of these, 8,140 were Somali refugees resettled mainly to USA, Denmark, Sweden, Australia, Canada, Norway, and Finland.


In Borama, a five-day workshop on Health Information Systems (HIS) was held during the first half of January. Some 17 MCH- OPD staff from the Awdal region participated in the workshop. The objective of the workshop was to upgrade the knowledge and skills of the staff and to set up a standardized health information system in the zone. In collaboration with the Togdheer Women's Association (TWA), UNICEF has completed construction of a new Mother and Child Health (MCH) centre in Yiroowe town and subsequently supplied basic MCH equipment. The new MCH centre is now operational.

UNCTAD is currently implementing four rehabilitation projects funded by the EC in order to support the Bari and Northeast regional administrations. Construction is now underway of four crucial buildings : Northeast Regional Prison, Bari Regional Administration Building, Bossaso Police Facility, and a Finance and Accounting Headquarters. These inputs are designed to further the region's ability to manage regional security, revenues, and administration.

Education Update

In Bossaso, UNICEF and the local community has completed the rehabilitation of Ga'anlibah Primary School in Gardo town. The UNICEF Representative, Dr. Agostino Paganini, visited Gardo during the second half of February to commission the school and handed it over to the Gardo Education Committee. Approximately 1,100 students are expected to benefit from the rehabilitated school. In Mogadishu, UNICEF helped to organise school committee meetings to encourage community and parental participation in the running of schools and the role that the community could play. Some schools are already practicing cost-sharing with the community while others are still attempting implementation. Those schools visited still indicated the need for supply assistance since most children from orphanage schools and other elsewhere cannot afford materials for their educational requirements.

In Hargeisa, a Basic Education Guide for Koranic schools is being completed by UNICEF. The guide consists of sections on literacy, numeracy and Facts for Life. Some 1,000 copies are to be published. The guide will be field-tested in 200 schools. The guide aims to provide basic education for two years to Koranic school pupils and to encourage the children to proceed to primary schools as well as obtain support from parents for primary schooling. During the month of February, UNESCO has copy-printed textbooks of all subjects taught in upper primary schools for the Ministry of Education to distribute. Also, UNOPS will distribute 150 Teacher Emergency Package (TEP) teacher guides and 150 student activity books printed with the assistance of UNESCO. In Sacow, Middle Juba, UNESCO held a teacher training workshop from 15-20 February for 50 primary school teachers in collaboration with Swedish Church Relief. Common operational guidelines for agencies working in the education sector are being prepared by the Somalia Education Coordination Group, chaired by UNESCO.

If you have any queries or would like to receive more information on the situation in Somalia, please contact the Department of Humanitarian Affairs (DHA) in Geneva or New York.

This report is available on the internet through RELIEFWEB:

UN Humanitarian Coordinator and Resident Representative for Somalia
Nairobi Office
Mr. Erling Dassau
Tel.: (254 2) 226.408
Fax: (254 2) 217.483

Inter-Agency Support Branch (IASB) - Geneva
Mr. David Bassiouni - Chief
Ms. Maria Keating
Tel.: (41 22) 788.6384
Fax: (41 22) 788.6386
Registry E-Mail:

Complex Emergencies Division (CED) - New York
Ms. Nancee Oku Bright
Tel.: (1 212) 963.2198
Fax: (1 212) 963.1388
E-Mail :

Press to contact (DHA-Geneva)
Ms. Madeleine Moulin-Acevedo
Tel.: (41 22) 917.2856
Fax: (41 22) 917.0023
Telex: 414242 DHA CH