Somalia

UNCT Somalia Monitor 8 - 14 March 1998

The UNCT SOMALIA MONITOR.
8 - 14 March 1998.
HUMANITARIAN UPDATE

Update on Floods in Somalia

People in Southern Somalia continue to suffer the devastating impact of the flood emergency. While many areas have dried up, the situation along the Juba River south of Bualle and along parts of the Shabelle River is still described as serious. Diseases have become the most devastating aftermath of the floods. Food shortages have led to severe malnutrition in several areas. Even though many roads are open, they are often in extremely poor condition and numerous villages still remain cut off. For many people access to markets remains extremely difficult. WFP reports that in the second phase of the flood relief operation it has so far delivered just under 5,000 mt of relief food to around 710,000 of the most vulnerable people in Central and Southern Somalia. The agency says in order to reach the most needy people it established 50 delivery locations throughout the various regions.

For further weekly up-dated information on the flood situation and the response undertaken, see Internet website: www.unicef.unon.org/SOMALIA/flood.html

Update on Health Situation

Cholera and malaria continue to cause major concern, in particular in the flood affected areas and international agencies continued to focus their efforts on combating the various diseases. While the number of cholera cases in Mogadishu and Merca has declined overall, both cities still continue to receive cholera patients from outlying areas and many new areas particularly in the south are starting to report cholera cases which has led to the fear that the spread of cholera could become more explosive in these outlying areas. WHO reports that the total number of cases reported by international organizations and local authorities rose to 7,419 cases with 326 deaths (case fatality: 4.4%) by 13 March. - As part of the overall countrywide cholera prevention and treatment campaign, UN Agencies and NGOs continued to provide medical supplies, social mobilization, chlorination, technical assistance to Jowhar, Jalalaqsi (Hiran), and Mahaday treatment centers. - WHO reports that training of village elders in malaria control was conducted in Merca and anti-malarials were distributed through the elders in more than 60 villages around Merca. - An increase in the number of measles cases was reported from Mogadishu.

In a statement released on 10 March, UN Resident and Humanitarian Coordinator, Mr Dominik Langenbacher, announced that the recent Rift Valley Fever outbreak in Southern Somalia was over and that all the evidence collected by scientists had shown that the epidemic had burnt out. The statement added that there was no evidence at all that the Rift Valley Fever ever spread beyond the flood affected areas in the South. These findings came at the end of extensive field investigations conducted by experts from a WHO Inter-Country- Investigation Team including professionals from EPICENTER, EPIET, National Institute of Virology South Africa and the Center for Disease Control and the Food and Agricultural Organization (FAO). Over the last three months, the experts had travelled to various parts of the country. Investigations in the Northeast and Northwest had shown that animals seen were very healthy. In the North East there were not even potential breeding sites for the Aedes mosquito species which transmit Rift Valley Fever. The investigation team found that the flood stricken South had suffered loss of livestock but that the majority of animals died directly and indirectly from effects of the flooding ( stress, infections, pneumonia etc.).

Missions to Somalia.

The UN Resident and Humanitarian Coordinator for Somalia visits the Northwest.

The United Nations Resident and Humanitarian Coordinator for Somalia, Mr Dominik Langenbacher, travelled to Northwest Somalia and Djibouti from 10 - 12 March 1998. The Resident Coordinator discussed with the authorities of "Somaliland" issues relating to the repatriation and reintegration of several thousands of refugees from camps in Ethiopia. By the end of February, around 10,000 refugees had been repatriated from Ethiopia through dispersal points in Hargeisa, Gebiley, Arabsiyo, Kalabaydh, Togwajaale and Allaybaday. Other issues of the discussions included the impact of the Rift Valley Fever Outbreak in Southern Somalia, its consequences for "Somaliland" and ways in which UN Agencies could assist in helping the livestock industry to recover. Also, matters pertaining to visa restrictions for international humanitarian personnel were discussed.

RELIEF AND DEVELOPMENT BY OPERATIONAL AREAS.

SOUTHERN ZONE: Normal programme activities continued with emphasis lying on flood response operations. Over the last weeks, UNICEF continued assisting social mobilization for cholera awareness and prevention in several locations including Kismayo (through national staff and partners) , Jamame, Marerey, Sakow, Buale, Bardera and Bulohawa. In February, UNICEF signed an agreement with the INGO, Trocaire, to support education programmes in Dolo and Bulohawa . - On 1 March, a ship carrying 120 mt of relief supplies including rice, sugar, oil and wheat flour, docked safely at Kismayo port. The relief food had been donated by Saudi Arabia. A Saudi humanitarian relief agency started distributing the food to people displaced by the floods in the area around Kismayo.

CENTRAL ZONE: Normal programme activities continued, including EPI, well chlorination, and anti-cholera activities. In cooperation with community leaders, the selection of beneficiaries for pit latrine slabs has begun in Belet Weyne as part of the joint SCF/OXFAM water and sanitation programme. The rehabilitation of water wells continues. The SCF agriculture team is meanwhile distributing vegetable seeds donated by FAO.

NORTHEAST: Normal programme activities continued.

NORTHWEST: Normal programme activities continued. In its effort to assist in the sectors of water and sanitation , UNICEF in collaboration with the Danish Refugee Council, provided around 800 vent pipes for the construction of latrines for displaced people/returnees in Hargeisa's Sheikh Nuur area. Meanwhile, the Danish Government earmarked US $8.5 million to Northwest Somalia for the renovation of tarmac roads, boreholes, schools and health facilities. Also, improvement of Borama's district water supply is still continuing. From 14-16 February, UNICEF and UNESCO in conjunction with the local "Ministry of Education, Youth and Sports" held a workshop aimed at reviewing the current primary education curriculum. The participants included local policy makers, professionals in the field of education, religious leaders, elders and representatives from the various development agencies involved in the education sector. WHO reports that polio surveillance training started for all regions in the North West. Similar training will take place in the North East starting from next week.

POLITICAL UPDATE

A joint committee set up by Hussein Aidid and Abdelkadir Mohamed Aden "Zobe" from the RRA that had been scheduled to travel to Baidoa on 8 March, failed to visit Baidoa as intended. Procedural differences among the signatories were given as reasons for the postponement of the trip.

On 9 March, Hussein Aidid sent a letter to Ali Mahdi outlining his faction's reply to NSC recommendations for the convening of a National Reconciliation Conference . The recommendations had been formulated by the NSC following the Cairo agreement. In the letter, Mr. Aidid stated that his faction welcomed the NSC proposals and advised the National Coordination Committee to appoint a Technical Committee to study the issues and come up with unified suggestions . The letter also mentioned that his faction supported the speedy mobilization of a mixed force to secure the ground for the Baidoa conference as agreed upon in Cairo . ( In the Cairo agreement, the signatories had agreed that "all militias shall be encamped in pre-arranged sites in all conflict areas" and that "a joint security force will be established for the national reconciliation conference.") Ali Mahdi Mohamed told the BBC Somali Service in an interview on 12 March that he was not fully satisfied with the letter in two points (issues relating to the title of "president" and the withdrawal of troops from Baidoa), however , the commitment to implement the Cairo Agreement still stood.

14 - 15 March, the 17th Regular Session of the Inter-Governmental Authority on Development (IGAD) Council of Ministers was scheduled for Djibouti.

SECURITY UPDATE

KISMAYO AND JUBA VALLEY: The overall security situation in Kismayo remained tense . Elders in the town reportedly reached a settlement regarding the shooting incident on 28 February which had started at the airport over a "Khat" dispute and had later on spread to the town . At least five people had been killed and six others had been injured in the clashes. Reports indicate that SNF forces are massed outside the city at Mahamato. Travel restrictions for UN planes and international staff to Kismayo remain in place. - On 13 March, a UN relief plane was ambushed on the runway of Sakkow Weyne. At least a dozen shots were fired at the plane which had started to unload the cargo. The plane was struck twice in the area of the cockpit. The pilot immediately terminated operations, and departed. There were no casualties amongst the aircrew. Reports indicate that the perpetrators were followers of a local religious leader and automobile leasing agent . Until further notice all ground and air relief operations to Sakkow have been suspended.

GEDO: The security situation in the main towns of Gedo region, including Lugh, Dolo and Bulohawa remained quiet overall. However, there are also reports speaking of limited Al-Ittihad activity in the outlying areas.

BAY/BAKOOL: The security situation in Baidoa and Hoddur towns remained tense, reliable information about the situation in the area is not available. There are unconfirmed reports of various levels of RRA guerilla activity against SNA militia.

MOGADISHU: Mogadishu remained quiet overall. On 9 March, at least 5 people were killed - four of whom were children - and eight others were injured when an unknown device, buried at a garbage collection point in Karan district/ north Mogadishu detonated after the garbage was set on fire as part of a neighbourhood clean up campaign. On 10 March, a relief ship carrying food commodities including rice, sugar, cooking oil, and wheat flour for the flood victims in Central Somalia arrived at north Mogadishu's El-Ma'an port. The relief cargo had been donated by the Saudi Arabian Minister of Defense. On 9 March, several hundred Somalis took to the streets of Mogadishu to commemorate the third anniversary of the killing of Elman Ali Ahmed, a peace activist who was shot dead by gunmen in March 1996. On 8 March, various women groups in Mogadishu rallied at the monument of the "unknown soldier" to mark the International Womens' Day. They called for the speedy implementation of the Cairo agreement. Despite some level of improvement in security, the greenline appears to be back for humanitarian personnel and their cars. Some car- owners have expressed unwillingness to let their vehicles cross over into the other parts of the city for fear of car-thefts/hijacks. The main seaport and airport remained closed.

JOWHAR/BELED WEYN: Jowhar, Beled Weyn, and related villages remained quiet.

BOSASSO/NORTHEAST: The situation in Bossaso, Garowe, and Galkayo remained quiet.

HARGEISA/NORTHWEST: The situation remained stable and quiet. - On 3 March, at least one Yemeni fisherman was reportedly killed and two others were injured at the small port of Maid/ Sanaag when a port security staff member opened fire on their fishing boat for allegedly loading more fish than agreed. No further details are available.

SECURITY ADVISORIES.

A. Travel to Mogadishu, Bay, and Bakool regions remains restricted on the basis of UN Phase 5 status.

B. Travel to these areas requires approval of both the UN Designated Official and UNSECOORD.

C. Travel of UN International staff to Sakow Weyne is prohibited until further notice.

D. Travel to Kismayo is being temporarily restricted to international staff.

E. UN international staff road travel to Las Anod and Erigavo is restricted.

F. The Jowhar/Jalalaqsi road remains restricted to UN International staff.

G. Travel to Somalia by UN international staff requires prior security clearance from the Designated Official.

H. The Garisa-Dadab road is closed to traffic due to high incidents of banditry, but for Garisa based operations, all convoys must have a prior security clearance and accompanied by one escort vehicle. Each UN vehicle must make sure that it is equipped with HF radio.

I. Travel to Tieglo is now permitted - given security clearance by D.O.

REPORT.

by the United nations coordination unit (UNCU), in collaboration with the Chief Security Advisor. United nations country team (UNCT) SOMALIA MONITOR is issued out of various reports received from the field. It does not necessarily reflect the opinion of the United Nations. Queries and submissions should be forwarded to the UNCU, Facsimile No: (254-2) 448439 and Telephone No: (254-2) 448434