Eyes of the Fleet

Eyes of the Fleet

Thursday, March 23, 2006

World Food Program wastes its time

The United Nations World Food Program (or World Food Programme apparently has a very short corporate memory, and, as reported here, is asking the militias to protect aid agencies.
Following a fatal shooting at a food distribution in southern Somalia, the United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) appealed today to leaders and militias throughout Somalia to provide access and protection to humanitarian agencies to enable them to respond to a worsening drought emergency.

Some 1.4 million people in southern Somalia need emergency food aid and other humanitarian assistance because of drought. However, the massive effort needed to save their lives is being seriously jeopardized by threats and attacks against aid convoys and workers as well as acts of piracy at sea.

On 21 March, WFP-contracted trucks with WFP food aid were being unloaded at a food distribution in Salagle village in Sakow district in the south when two local militias exchanged gunfire. At least one local person was killed and several others were wounded. The distribution was stopped and WFP staff withdrew.

The food distribution was unable to resume the following day because of continuing tension in the area.

WFP condemns in the strongest terms this act of violence and calls on the local communities in southern Somalia to act decisively against the culprits. The agency expresses its sincere condolences to the family of an innocent bystander killed in this incident and hopes for the speedy recovery of the injured.

"Targeting humanitarian assistance is totally unacceptable; it is callous and violates all international humanitarian principles,"” said Zlatan Milisic, WFP Somalia Country Director.

"Humanitarian agencies cannot operate where assistance is being targeted. We are already seriously challenged by the logistics of this mission and shouldn'’t have to watch our backs as well. We rely on Somali leaders to guarantee the safety of humanitarian workers and cargo,"” Milisic added.

WFP stressed that insecurity delayed the humanitarian response and caused unnecessary suffering at this difficult time for those in need, particularly the most vulnerable - women and children. Milisic appealed again to all those with power and influence in Somalia to combine their resources and help their people survive.

Humanitarian operations in Somalia, where this year a total of 2.1 million people are in urgent need of food aid and other support, are being seriously hampered because of insecurity and lawlessness...
I don't think the message is getting through to anyone who cares.

UPDATE: The CIA World Factbook says it all about Somalia:
The regime of Mohamed SIAD Barre was ousted in January 1991; turmoil, factional fighting, and anarchy have followed in the years since. In May of 1991, northern clans declared an independent Republic of Somaliland that now includes the administrative regions of Awdal, Woqooyi Galbeed, Togdheer, Sanaag, and Sool. Although not recognized by any government, this entity has maintained a stable existence, aided by the overwhelming dominance of a ruling clan and economic infrastructure left behind by British, Russian, and American military assistance programs. The regions of Bari and Nugaal and northern Mudug comprise a neighboring self-declared autonomous state of Puntland, which has been self-governing since 1998, but does not aim at independence; it has also made strides towards reconstructing a legitimate, representative government, but has suffered some civil strife. Puntland disputes its border with Somaliland as it also claims portions of eastern Sool and Sanaag. Beginning in 1993, a two-year UN humanitarian effort (primarily in the south) was able to alleviate famine conditions, but when the UN withdrew in 1995, having suffered significant casualties, order still had not been restored. The mandate of the Transitional National Government (TNG), created in August 2000 in Arta, Djibouti, expired in August 2003. New Somali President Abdullahi YUSUF Ahmed has formed a new Transitional Federal Government (TFG) consisting of a 275-member parliament. Discussions regarding moving the new government from Jawhar to Mogadishu are ongoing. Numerous warlords and factions are still fighting for control of the capital city as well as for other southern regions. Suspicion of Somali links with global terrorism further complicates the picture.
In other words, not much has changed in Somalia and I'm not sure anyone is anxious to go back in, even for humanitarian reasons...

History of US Army ops in Somalia 1992-1994 here from the US Army Center of Military History. Wonderful conclusion:
The United States entered Somalia in December 1992 to stop the imminent starvation of hundreds of thousands of people. Although it succeeded in this mission, the chaotic political situation of that unhappy land bogged down U.S. and allied forces in what became, in effect, a poorly organized United Nations nation-building operation. In a country where the United States, perhaps naively, expected some measure of gratitude for its help, its forces received increasing hostility as they became more deeply embroiled into trying to establish a stable government. The military and diplomatic effort to bring together all the clans and political entities was doomed to failure as each subelement continued to attempt to out-jockey the others for supreme power. The Somali people were the main victims of their own leaders, but forty-two Americans died and dozens more were wounded before the United States and the United Nations capitulated to events and withdrew. American military power had established the conditions for peace in the midst of a famine and civil war, but, unlike later in Bosnia, the factions were not exhausted from the fighting and were not yet willing to stop killing each other and anyone caught in the middle. There was no peace to keep. The American soldier had, as always, done his best under difficult circumstances to perform a complex and often confusing mission. But the best soldiers in the world can only lay the foundation for peace; they cannot create peace itself.

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