The downfall of President
Siad Barre in January 1991 resulted in a power struggle and clan clashes
in many parts of Somalia. In November, the most intense fighting since
January broke out in the capital, Mogadishu, between two factions C one
supporting Interim President Ali Mahdi Mohamed and the other supporting
the Chairman of the United Somali Congress, General Mohamed Farah Aidid.
Since then, fighting persisted in Mogadishu and spread throughout Somalia,
with heavily armed elements controlling various parts of the country.
Some declared alliance with one or the other of the two factions, while
others did not. Numerous marauding groups of bandits added to the problem.
The political chaos, deteriorating security situation, widespread banditry and looting, and extent of physical destruction compounded the problem and severely constrained the delivery of humanitarian supplies. Furthermore, the conflict threatened stability in the Horn of Africa region, and its continuation occasioned threats to international peace and security in the area.
Despite the turmoil that ensued after the overthrow of President Siad Barre, the United Nations continued its humanitarian efforts in Somalia and, by March 1991, was fully engaged in that country. Over the following months, the volatile security situation forced the United Nations on several occasions to temporarily withdraw its personnel from Somalia, but it continued its humanitarian activities to the fullest extent possible, in cooperation with the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) and non-governmental organizations (NGOs).
The deteriorating and appalling situation in Somalia led the United Nations Secretary-General, in cooperation with the Organization of African Unity (OAU), the League of Arab States (LAS) and the Organization of the Islamic Conference (OIC), to become actively involved with the political aspects of the crisis and to press for a peaceful solution to the conflict.
On 27 December 1991, then Secretary-General Javier Pérez de Cuéllar informed the President of the Security Council that he intended to take an initiative in an attempt to restore peace in Somalia. Accordingly, after consulting incoming Secretary-General Boutros Boutros-Ghali, he asked then Under-Secretary-General for Political Affairs James O.C. Jonah to visit the area.
In early January 1992, despite continued fighting in Mogadishu, Mr. Jonah led a team of senior United Nations officials into Somalia for talks aimed at bringing about a cessation of hostilities and securing access by the international relief community to civilians caught in the conflict. During that visit, support for a ceasefire in Mogadishu was expressed by all faction leaders, except General Aidid. Unanimous support was expressed, however, for a United Nations role in bringing about national reconciliation.
The results of the visit were reported to Secretary-General Boutros Boutros-Ghali, who then consulted with the members of the Security Council on the appropriate course of action. On 23 January, by its resolution 733 (1992), the Security Council urged all parties to the conflict to cease hostilities, and decided that all States should immediately implement a general and complete embargo on all deliveries of weapons and military equipment to Somalia. The Council requested the Secretary-General to increase humanitarian assistance to the affected population and to contact all parties involved in the conflict to seek their commitment to the cessation of hostilities, to promote a ceasefire and to assist in the process of a political settlement of the conflict.
On 31 January, the Secretary-General invited LAS, OAU and OIC, as well as Interim President Ali Mahdi and General Aidid, to send their representatives to participate in consultations at United Nations Headquarters from 12 to 14 February. The talks succeeded in getting the two factions in Mogadishu to agree to an immediate cessation of hostilities and the maintenance of the ceasefire, and to a visit to Mogadishu by a joint high-level delegation composed of representatives of the United Nations and the three regional organizations to conclude a ceasefire agreement. The joint delegation arrived in Mogadishu on 29 February 1992. On 3 March, after four days of intensive negotiations, Interim President Ali Mahdi and General Aidid signed an "Agreement on the Implementation of a Ceasefire". This Agreement also included the acceptance of a United Nations security component for convoys of humanitarian assistance, and the deployment of 20 military observers on each side of Mogadishu to monitor the ceasefire. At the same time, the joint delegation undertook consultations regarding a national reconciliation conference to which all Somali groups would be invited.
On 17 March, the Security Council adopted its resolution 746 (1992), supporting the Secretary-General's decision to dispatch to Somalia a technical team to prepare a plan for a ceasefire monitoring mechanism. The Council also requested that the team develop a high-priority plan to ensure the delivery of humanitarian assistance. The team visited Somalia from 23 March to 1 April. Following discussions with the team, Interim President Ali Mahdi and General Aidid signed on 28 and 27 March 1992, respectively, Letters of Agreement on the mechanisms for monitoring the ceasefire and on arrangements for equitable and effective distribution of humanitarian assistance.
Establishment of UNOSOM
On 24 April 1992, in response to a recommendation of the Secretary-General, the Security Council adopted resolution 751 (1992), by which it decided to establish a United Nations Operation in Somalia (UNOSOM). The Council also asked the Secretary-General, in cooperation with LAS, OAU and OIC, to pursue consultations with all Somali parties towards convening a conference on national reconciliation and unity. It also called on the international community for financial and other support for the Secretary-General's 90-day Plan of Action for Emergency Humanitarian Assistance to Somalia.
The Council welcomed the Secretary-General's intention to appoint a Special Representative for Somalia to provide overall direction of United Nations activities in that country. Mr. Mohammed Sahnoun of Algeria was appointed Special Representative on 28 April 1992 and left for the area on 1 May.
Original Concept of Operations
In accordance with the agreements reached with the two main Somali factions in Mogadishu, the ceasefire in the capital was to be monitored by a group of 50 unarmed uniformed United Nations military observers. As regards humanitarian assistance, the security personnel envisaged in the agreements were to provide protection and security for United Nations personnel, equipment and supplies at the seaports and airports in Mogadishu and escort deliveries of humanitarian supplies from there to distribution centres in the city and its immediate environs.
In its resolution 751 (1992), the Security Council requested the Secretary-General to deploy immediately 50 observers to monitor the ceasefire in Mogadishu. It also agreed, in principle, to establish a security force to be deployed as soon as possible, and requested the Secretary-General to continue his consultations with the parties in Mogadishu in this regard.
On 23 June, the Secretary-General informed the Security Council that both principal factions in Mogadishu had agreed to the immediate deployment of the unarmed observers. The Chief Military Observer, Brigadier-General Imtíaz Shaheen of Pakistan, and the advance party of UNOSOM observers arrived in Mogadishu in early July 1992. On 12 August, the Secretary-General informed the Security Council that, after considerable delays and difficulties, agreement had been reached with the principal faction leaders in Mogadishu to deploy 500 United Nations security personnel in the capital as part of UNOSOM. The Government of Pakistan had agreed to contribute a unit for the purpose. The first group of security personnel arrived in Mogadishu on 14 September 1992.
Enlargement of UNOSOM
Between 4 May and 19 July 1992, the Secretary-General's Special Representative undertook extensive consultations with various Somali leaders and Elders and other personalities throughout the country. On 22 July, the Secretary-General reported to the Council on the complex political and security situation in Somalia, as well as the desperate situation the country faced in terms of needs for humanitarian assistance, recovery programmes and institution-building. The Secretary-General concluded that the United Nations must "adapt" its involvement in Somalia and that its efforts needed to be enlarged in order to bring about an effective ceasefire throughout the country, while at the same time promoting national reconciliation.
On 27 July, the Security Council approved the Secretary-General's report and urged all parties, movements and factions in Somalia to facilitate United Nations efforts to provide urgent humanitarian assistance to the affected population. The Council strongly supported the Secretary-General's decision to dispatch another technical team to Somalia.
Following the technical team's visit to Somalia from 6 to 15 August 1992, the Secretary-General submitted his further report, dated 24 August, to the Security Council, in which he described a number of urgent steps, being planned or already taken, to mitigate the widespread starvation in the areas of Somalia most seriously affected by the civil war and drought and to prevent the incidence of hunger escalating in other parts of the country. Noting that the United Nations and its partners were ready and had the capacity to provide substantially increased assistance, the Secretary-General stated that they were prevented from doing so by the lawlessness and lack of security prevailing throughout Somalia. Looting, by heavily armed gangs, of supplies from delivery and distribution points, as well as attacks on incoming and docked ships and on airports and airstrips, prevented the assured delivery of humanitarian assistance by overland transport.
Given the difficulties, the Secretary-General concluded that the airlift operations C already being carried out by the World Food Programme (WFP) and the United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF), as well as by ICRC C needed to be enhanced substantially, with priority given to central and southern Somalia. In addition, a "preventive zone" on the Kenya-Somali border should be established for special deliveries of food and seed, in an attempt to reduce famine-induced population movements.
The Secretary-General recommended the deployment of four additional United Nations security units, each with a strength of up to 750, to protect the humanitarian convoys and distribution centres throughout Somalia. Also, in accordance with his earlier proposal, the Secretary-General recommended the establishment of four zone headquarters of UNOSOM. Each would be headed by a civilian official who would assist the Secretary-General's Special Representative in all aspects of his duties.
On 28 August, the
Security Council, by its resolution 775 (1992), approved the Secretary-General's
report and authorized the increase in strength of UNOSOM. The Council
requested the Secretary-General to continue, in close cooperation with
LAS, OAU and OIC, his efforts to seek a comprehensive solution to the
crisis in Somalia.
There were six main United Nations organizations at work in Somalia coordinating overall humanitarian efforts: the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), UNICEF, the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), WFP and the World Health Organization (WHO). In addition, more than 30 NGOs were working in Somalia as "implementing partners" of the United Nations. Moreover, ICRC continued to provide assistance under the most difficult of situations. There were also many local NGOs that worked with the United Nations and the international NGOs.
Between 10 and 12 September 1992, as part of the overall effort to accelerate humanitarian relief activities, the then United Nations Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs, Mr. Jan Eliasson, led a high-level inter-agency mission to Somalia. A major outcome of the mission was the decision to develop a 100-Day Action Programme for Accelerated Humanitarian Assistance, for the period until the end of 1992. The 100-Day Programme was reviewed at the First Coordination Meeting on Humanitarian Assistance for Somalia, held in Geneva on 12 and 13 October 1992 under the chairmanship of the Secretary-General's Special Representative for Somalia.
The Programme sought to highlight priority actions which were needed to prevent famine and the unacceptably high levels of death and deprivation in Somalia. The emphasis was placed on those areas and populations of the country needing priority attention. The Programme also identified the additional resources required to meet its eight main objectives: massive infusion of food aid; aggressive expansion of supplementary feeding; provision of basic health services and mass measles immunization campaign; urgent provision of clean water, sanitation and hygiene; provision of shelter materials, including blankets and clothes; simultaneous delivery of seeds, tools and animal vaccines with food rations; prevention of further refugee outflows and promoting returnee programmes; building institutions and civil society rehabilitation and recovery. Donor response to the Programme was generally prompt and generous. Of the $82.7 million requested for the implementation of the Programme, $67.3 million was received.
From 3 to 5 December 1992, the Secretary-General convened the Second Coordination Meeting on Humanitarian Assistance for Somalia, at the Conference Centre of the Economic Commission for Africa (ECA) in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. The Meeting was attended by representatives of donor countries and other Governments, Somali political and community leaders, and Somali NGOs, as well as regional and subregional organizations, United Nations agencies and international NGOs. The Meeting provided an opportunity to review the progress achieved in the implementation of the 100-Day Action Programme, the obstacles encountered and the work that remained to be done. The discussion also went beyond the scope of the Action Programme to address further relief activities, as well as the rehabilitation and reconstruction of Somalia. One of the conclusions of the meeting was that the 100-Day Programme should be followed by a new plan for 1993. Subsequently, it was decided that a United Nations Conference on Humanitarian Assistance for Somalia would be held in Addis Ababa in March 1993 to review the Relief and Rehabilitation Programme for 1993 and receive pledges from donors.
In October and November 1992, despite all efforts by the international community, the United Nations Secretary-General and his new Special Representative for Somalia, Mr. Ismat Kittani, the situation in Somalia continued to deteriorate. [The Secretary-General appointed Mr. Kittani (Iraq) as his Special Representative on 3 November 1992, to replace Mr. Mohammed Sahnoun who had resigned.] Somalia remained without a central government with which to negotiate. Mogadishu was divided by rival militias. Throughout the country, a dozen or more factions C some torn by internal divisions C were active. The resulting political chaos and the extensive physical destruction severely constrained the delivery of humanitarian supplies. Widespread looting of aid supplies, robbery, armed banditry and general lawlessness compounded the situation.
Several of the Somali de facto authorities refused to agree to the deployment of United Nations troops to secure delivery of aid in areas of greatest need. UNOSOM troops in Mogadishu were fired upon and their vehicles and arms taken. Relief ships were prevented from docking, threatened and even shelled. Airports and seaports came under fire. Large sums of cash and relief aid were being extorted from donor agencies and organizations, and the lives of their personnel attempting to distribute supplies to starving people were being put in danger.
The net result was that, while relief supplies were ready and in the pipeline, only a trickle was reaching those in need. According to some estimates, as many as 3,000 persons a day were dying of starvation in Somalia, while warehouses remained stocked. Unless the problems relating to security and protection of relief supplies were resolved, it was believed that United Nations agencies and NGOs would be unable to provide the assistance in the amounts and on the urgent basis needed.
In a letter to the Security Council on 24 November 1992, the Secretary-General reported on the deteriorating situation in Somalia, with particular reference to the factors preventing UNOSOM from implementing its mandate. The Secretary-General stated that he did not exclude the possibility that it might become necessary to review the basic premises and principles of the United Nations effort there. He cited the lack of government in Somalia, the failure of various factions to cooperate with UNOSOM, the extortion, blackmail and robbery to which the international relief effort was subjected and the repeated attacks on the personnel and equipment of the United Nations and other relief agencies. The members of the Council discussed the Secretary-General's letter during informal consultations on 25 November. They expressed the view that the situation in Somalia was intolerable and asked the Secretary-General to present specific recommendations on how the United Nations could remedy the situation.
In response, the Secretary-General submitted to the Security Council a further letter, dated 29 November, in which he outlined, for the Council's consideration, five options for creating conditions for the uninterrupted delivery of supplies to the starving people of Somalia. The Secretary-General also informed the Council of a visit he received on 25 November from Mr. Lawrence Eagleburger, then Acting Secretary of State of the United States, who indicated that, should the Security Council decide to authorize Member States to ensure the delivery of relief supplies, the United States would be ready to take the lead in organizing and commanding such an operation, in which a number of other Member States would also participate.
According to the Secretary-General's letter, the first option would be to continue and intensify efforts to deploy UNOSOM in accordance with its existing mandate. The second option suggested that the idea of using international military personnel to protect relief activities be abandoned, and that humanitarian agencies make the best arrangements they could with the various faction and clan leaders. However, the Secretary-General considered neither of these two options to be an adequate response to the crisis.
As to the other three options, the Secretary-General stated that their purpose would be to ensure, on a lasting basis, that the current violence against the international relief effort was brought to an end. The first of those three options would be for UNOSOM troops to undertake a show of force in Mogadishu in an attempt to discourage those abusing the relief efforts. However, the Secretary-General contended that a countrywide operation would be required to have the desired deterrent effect. The next option would entail a countrywide action by a group of Member States authorized to do so by the Security Council. The Secretary-General mentioned in this connection the offer by the United States to organize and lead such an operation. In such a case, the Secretary-General would advise the Council and those Members taking part in the operation that they find a way to recognize the Security Council's legitimate interest in the manner in which it was carried out. The remaining option was also for a countrywide enforcement action, but one carried out under United Nations command and control. This would be consistent, the Secretary-General stated, with the recent enlargement of the Organization's role in the maintenance of international peace and security, and would strengthen its long-term evolution as an effective system of collective security. However, the United Nations Secretariat did not have the capability to command and control an enforcement operation of the size required. He concluded that there was no alternative but to resort to the enforcement provisions under Chapter VII of the United Nations Charter.
The Secretary-General stressed that whether an action was taken under United Nations command, or by Member States with Security Council authorization, it should be precisely defined and limited in time, "in order to prepare the way for a return to peacekeeping and post-conflict peace-building".
Council Authorizes Use of Force
On 3 December, the Security Council adopted, unanimously, its resolution 794 (1992), authorizing the use of "all necessary means to establish as soon as possible a secure environment for humanitarian relief operations in Somalia". Acting under Chapter VII of the Charter, the Council authorized the Secretary-General and the participating Member States to make arrangements for "the unified command and control" of the military forces that would be involved. It called on all Member States that were in a position to do so to provide military forces and to make contributions in cash or in kind, and requested the Secretary-General to establish a fund through which the contributions could be appropriately channelled to the States or operations concerned.
The Security Council requested the Secretary-General and Member States contributing troops to establish appropriate mechanisms for coordination between the United Nations and their military forces, and invited the Secretary-General to attach a small liaison staff of UNOSOM to the field headquarters of the unified command. Further, the Council requested the Secretary-General and the States concerned to report regularly to it on the progress in establishing a secure environment in Somalia. It requested the Secretary-General to submit a plan to ensure that UNOSOM would be able to fulfil its mandate upon the withdrawal of the unified command.
As to the United Nations peacekeeping operation in Somalia, the Security Council decided that the operations and the further deployment of the 3,500 personnel of UNOSOM, authorized by resolution 775 (1992) of 28 August, should proceed at the discretion of the Secretary-General in the light of his assessment of conditions on the ground.
The first elements of the Unified Task Force (UNITAF), spearheaded by the United States, were deployed in Mogadishu on 9 December 1992. In the following weeks UNITAF forces expanded their operations to major relief centres in Somalia. UNITAF's principal goal was to establish in Somalia a secure environment for urgent humanitarian assistance. Once that was accomplished, the military command would then be turned over to the United Nations. In the meantime, UNOSOM remained fully responsible for the political aspects and for humanitarian assistance to Somalia. Good coordination on the ground and at United Nations Headquarters was established between UNITAF and the United Nations. UNOSOM remained in the capital, and continued to liaise with UNITAF and plan for the transition to normal peacekeeping functions.
[In addition to the United States forces, UNITAF included military units from Australia, Belgium, Botswana, Canada, Egypt, France, Germany, Greece, India, Italy, Kuwait, Morocco, New Zealand, Nigeria, Norway, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, Sweden, Tunisia, Turkey, United Arab Emirates, United Kingdom and Zimbabwe.]
On 19 December, the Secretary-General presented to the Security Council a report in which he described actions taken to implement resolution 794 (1992) and set out his thinking on a new mandate for UNOSOM and the transition from UNITAF to continued peacekeeping operations. The Secretary-General recommended that the Council defer its decision on such a transition until it became clear whether UNITAF had achieved its goal. He suggested that it should await the establishment of a ceasefire, the control of heavy weapons, the disarming of lawless gangs and the creation of a new police force.
In his further report to the Council, dated 26 January 1993, the Secretary-General congratulated UNITAF for rapidly and successfully securing major population centres and ensuring that humanitarian assistance was delivered and distributed without impediment. As to UNOSOM, he indicated that its major preoccupation at that juncture was the planning for the transition from the operations of UNITAF to UNOSOM II. The planning exercise, the Secretary-General pointed out, was proceeding smoothly in close cooperation and consultation with the Command of UNITAF.
In the meantime, the Secretary-General convened an informal preparatory meeting at ECA headquarters in Addis Ababa from 4 to 15 January 1993, for a national reconciliation conference envisaged under United Nations auspices. A total of 14 Somali political movements took part in the meeting, along with the Secretaries-General of LAS, OAU and OIC and the Chairman of the Standing Committee of the Countries of the Horn, as well as the representatives of the current Chairman of the Movement of Non-Aligned Countries.
The following three agreements were concluded and signed at the meeting: (a) General Agreement of 8 January 1993; (b) Agreement on implementing the ceasefire and on modalities of disarmament; and (c) Agreement on the establishment of an ad hoc committee to help resolve the criteria for participation at, and the agenda for, the conference on national reconciliation, as well as any other issues pending from the informal meeting. Among other things, the informal meeting agreed on the convening of a conference on national reconciliation in Addis Ababa on 15 March 1993. The Somali parties requested the United Nations, in consultation with the relevant regional and subregional organizations, to provide logistic support both prior to and during the conference.
On 3 March 1993, the Secretary-General submitted to the Security Council a report containing his recommendations for effecting the transition from UNITAF to UNOSOM II (LINK). He indicated that since the adoption of Council resolution 794 (1992) in December 1992, UNITAF had deployed approximately 37,000 troops in southern and central Somalia, covering approximately 40 per cent of the country's territory. The presence and operations of UNITAF had a positive impact on the security situation in Somalia and on the effective delivery of humanitarian assistance. He pointed out, however, that despite the improvement, a secure environment had not yet been established in Somalia and incidents of violence continued to occur. There was still no effective functioning government in the country, no organized civilian police force and no disciplined national armed force. The security threat to personnel of the United Nations and its agencies, UNITAF, ICRC and NGOs was still high in some areas of Mogadishu and other places in Somalia. Moreover, there was no deployment of UNITAF or UNOSOM troops to the north-east and north-west, or along the Kenyan-Somali border, where security continued to be a matter of grave concern.
The Secretary-General concluded, therefore, that, should the Security Council determine that the time had come for the transition from UNITAF to UNOSOM II, the latter should be endowed with enforcement powers under Chapter VII of the United Nations Charter so as to be able to establish a secure environment throughout Somalia. To that end, UNOSOM II, under the mandate recommended by the Secretary-General, would seek to complete, through disarmament and reconciliation, the task begun by UNITAF for the restoration of peace, stability, law and order. The mandate would also empower UNOSOM II to provide assistance to the Somali people in rebuilding their economy and social and political life, re-establishing the country's institutional structure, achieving national political reconciliation, recreating a Somali State based on democratic governance and rehabilitating the country's economy and infrastructure.
The Secretary-General estimated that it would be necessary to deploy a military component of 20,000 all ranks to carry out the assigned tasks and an additional 8,000 personnel to provide the logistic support. In addition, the United States Government agreed in principle to provide a tactical quick reaction force in support of the Force Commander of UNOSOM II. UNOSOM II would also include civilian staff of approximately 2,800 individuals. The Secretary-General suggested 1 May 1993 as the date of transfer of budgetary and administrative control from UNITAF to UNOSOM II. It was subsequently decided that the transfer of the military command would take place on 4 May.
On 5 March 1993, the Secretary-General appointed Admiral Jonathan T. Howe (Ret.) of the United States as his new Special Representative for Somalia for an initial period of three months, effective 9 March 1993. He was asked to oversee the transition from UNITAF to UNOSOM II, in addition to continuing the tasks of "promoting political reconciliation, coordinating humanitarian assistance and paving the way for rehabilitation and reconstruction of the country". Earlier, the Secretary-General had appointed Lieutenant-General Çevik Bir of Turkey as Force Commander of UNOSOM II.
UNOSOM II Established
On 26 March, the Security Council, acting under Chapter VII of the United Nations Charter, adopted resolution 814 (1993), by which it decided to expand the size and mandate of UNOSOM in accordance with the Secretary-General's recommendations. It authorized the mandate for the expanded UNOSOM for an initial period through 31 October 1993. The Council demanded that all Somali parties comply fully with the commitments they had undertaken, and in particular with the Agreement on Implementing the Ceasefire and on Modalities of Disarmament, and that they ensure the safety of the personnel of all organizations engaged in humanitarian and other assistance to Somalia. All States, in particular neighbouring ones, were called upon to cooperate in the implementation of the arms embargo established under resolution 733 (1992).
In other provisions of the resolution, the Council requested the Secretary-General, through his Special Representative, and with assistance from all relevant United Nations entities, offices and specialized agencies, to provide humanitarian and other assistance to the people of Somalia in rehabilitating their political institutions and economy and promoting political settlement and national reconciliation. Such assistance should include economic relief and rehabilitation of Somalia, the repatriation of refugees and displaced persons within Somalia, the re-establishment of national and regional institutions and civil administration in the entire country, the re-establishment of Somali police, mine-clearance and public information activities in support of the United Nations activities in Somalia.
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