Security: The zone has relatively calm.
Political developments: The Constitution adopted in February 1997 at the Hargeisa National Conference expired this month. Since the government was meant to have held a referendum on the constitution during this period and it had not, the 'Somaliland' Parliament extended the validity of the constitution by one year.
Political developments: 'Somaliland' closed its border with Djibouti accusing it of creating unrest in 'Somaliland'. However the tension eased after high level consultations involving 'Somaliland' President Mohammed Ibrahim Egal . Later President Egal declared that 'Somaliland' would do whatever it can to support the Djibouti President, Ismael Omar Gelleh's peace initiative for Somalia. However, President Egal said 'Somaliland' would not be dragged into the quagmire of Somali factions. The 'Somaliland' Parliament later voted to bar anyone descended from 'Somaliland', public or administration entities, individuals or organisations such as local NGOs, intellectuals, traditional leaders, poets and and other citizens from participating in the Djibouti peace initiative.
Business: During the reporting period, President Egal officially handed over the Berbera fuel depot to Total Red Sea Company. This brought to an end a dispute between some local companies and Total over the control of the depot. The administration of the port has been removed from the Ministry of Commerce to the Presidency.
Cabinet: President Egal dropped four cabinet ministers. He also created two ministries - Youth and Sports and Industries - bringing to 24 the number of ministries. A new police commissioner was appointed and the Mayor of Burao was replaced.
No news: A popular local newspaper, Jamhuuriya has not hit the streets since mid-February. Its absence is attributed to differences between the owners and the printers. Efforts to mediate between them are under way.
Missions: USAID and DANIDA delegations visited the zone this month. Both missions met representatives of the local administration and visited several locations including Berbera Port..
Economy: As preparations for the annual pilgrimage to Mecca begin, livestock demand in Saudi Arabia and elsewhere in the Gulf has led to better livestock prices in 'Somaliland'. This has resulted in the injection of hard currency into the economy and strengthened the 'Somaliland' shilling. This month, the 'Somaliland' shilling fluctuated between 2,650 and 2,800 to the dollar.
Health/Nutrition: UNICEF participated in a two-day meeting in Borama, Awdal, to discuss the region's health programme. Mayors from the region pledged to pay incentives to staff of mother and child health centres/outpatient dispensaries (MCH/OPDs). UNICEF will continue to supply essential drugs and equipment.
Water and environmental sanitation: The excavation of an 8km long trench for the Zeila pipeline was completed. Rehabilitation of a tank in Zeila town continued. UNICEF supported the formation of school WES committees in Hargeisa.
Education: Preparations for a three-day workshop on re-establishment of a school supervision system were finalised. The workshop will focus on the use and proper storage of education kits; improvement of the learning environment in schools and filling of school registers with appropriate data.
UNICEF staff undertook visits to schools in Hargeisa which are involved in the implementation of the Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC) interactive workbook.
University: A new university was inaugurated in Hargeisa, the first one ever. This is the second university after Amud University which was opened in 1998 in Borama, Awdal region.
Media visits: Two Italian journalists visited the zone through the sponsorship and facilitation of UNICEF and the Italian National Committee for UNICEF. . The journalists - a writer and photographer obtained stories on UNICEF's work, humanitarian assistance and managed to interview local leaders.
Jowhar, Mogadishu, Baidoa, Bardera and Kismayo Offices - Central/Southern Zone of Somalia
Jowhar Liaison Office:
Jowhar town remained relatively calm. Some acts of banditry were however reported in the Middle Shabelle. Transportation to and from Mogadishu continued with some risk.
Mogadishu Liaison Office:
Mogadishu remained calm. The main sea and airports are still closed. A faction leader, Ali Mahdi returned to Mogadishu after being away from Somalia for almost one year and urged members of his United Somali Congress faction to support the peace initiatives led by Djibouti.
Security: The situation in Lower Shabelle region especially in Kurtunwarey and Qoryoley districts deteriorated with clashes between rival militia.
Baidoa Liaison Office:
Baidoa and surrounding areas remained relatively calm. Fighting occurred at Lego near Balidogle between rival militia resulting in 10 deaths and 15 wounded.
Bardera Liaison Office:
Security: The situation in Bardera and the rest of the Gedo region improved. A cease-fire agreed to in Dollo between rival Somali National Front (SNF) factions is still holding. On 13 February a group of armed men killed a man purportedly to avenge an earlier killing. During the incident, another three people were killed in exchange of fire.
Kismayo Liaison Office:
Kismayo town and the Lower Jubba Region remained quiet and calm. There is no effective administrative system in place in Kismayo. Inter-clan fighting was reported in Afmadow and Dhobley area. This resulted in more than 40 deaths and 60 wounded.
Medecins Sans Frontieres (MSF) - Belgium resumed regular operations at its hospital in Kismayo town after a period of suspension.
Health: UNICEF provided medical supplies to Hamar Jajab and Muslim-Aid UK NGOs in Benadir region. Expanded Programme on Immunsation (EPI) activities were carried out in various locations.
Sub-National Immunisation Days (SNIDs): UNICEF and WHO supported and co-ordinated the implementation of the second round of polio SNIDs in two regions of the zone where it had not been possible earlier.
Reproductive health: UNICEF-supported health facilities provided antenatal and post-natal services to 12,491 women in February in the zone. Reports from Benadir, Lower Shabelle, Lower Jubba, Bay and Bakool regions indicated that anaemia is a major health problem for women in the zone.
Nutrition: UNICEF provided supplementary food in 10 regions of the zone. A total of 6,848 bags (171.2 mt) of Supermix were provided to partner agencies and distributed to children under five years through mother and child health centres (MCHs). UNICEF distributed 745 cartons of high-protein biscuits (8.9 mt) through the same MCH centres. Some 8,940 children under five years of age benefited from the biscuits.
Supermix was distributed to malnourished children in Garbaharey and Burdhubo for the first time in more than a year following improvement of the security situation. A UNICEF mission which conducted the distribution of Supermix supplementary food supplies reported that the situation in internally displaced persons' (IDP) Camps in Burdubo had deteriorated. Some 500 families in the Muri IDP camp were living in extremely poor conditions. Some 244 bags of Supermix were distributed in Burdhubo town and the Muri IDP camp and 200 bags were distributed in Garbaharey town.
Water and Environmental Sanitation: UNICEF provided support for construction of a water tank, generator room and the cleaning of a borehole and kiosks in Bardera. Rehabilitation of seven berkads (water ponds) constructed by UNICEF last year to serve IDP camps was undertaken. UNICEF hired water tankers to fill the berkads.
Some 18 wells in Bakool region were installed with hand-pumps. Maintenance and rehabilitation of boreholes in Bulo-fur, Tosilow and Korombod in Baidoa district was undertaken.
Cholera: As part of cholera prevention and awareness measures, Kismayo Women's Organisation undertook garbage collection in Kismayo. UNICEF provided tools for the exercise. UNICEF supplied chlorine for treatment of drinking water at the MSF-Belgium Hospital in Kismayo.
Education: Some 107 primary school teachers from Baidoa were trained in the utilisation of new education kits. UNICEF supplied 55 desks and 55 benches to Busly Primary School community education committee. Other supplies were distributed to Mugambo and Baledurahma primary schools.
Youth Education, Development and Protection (YEDPP): Construction of a basketball playground was completed in Jowhar through the support of UNICEF. Some 208 books were also distributed to resource centres in Merka and Jowhar. UNICEF staff met officials of the Olympic Committee in Jowhar to discuss the possibility of supporting women's basketball.
For more information, visit UNICEF's website at http://www.unicef.org