Somalia: a Familiar Tragedy

(Within 3 weeks of the Israeli/Lebanese confilct of 2006, UNIFIL presence had been boosted by thousands and given a new mandate :

"According to Security Council resolution 1701 (2006) of 11 August 2006, UNIFIL, in addition to carrying out its mandate under resolutions 425 and 426, shall:

  • Monitor the cessation of hostilities;
  • Accompany and support the Lebanese armed forces as they deploy throughout the South, including along the Blue Line, as Israel withdraws its armed forces from Lebanon;
  • Coordinate its activities referred to in the preceding paragraph (above) with the Government of Lebanon and the Government of Israel;
  • Extend its assistance to help ensure humanitarian access to civilian populations and the voluntary and safe return of displaced persons;
  • Assist the Lebanese armed forces in taking steps towards the establishment between the Blue Line and the Litani river of an free of any armed personnel, assets and weapons other than those of the Government of Lebanon and of UNIFIL deployed in this area;
  • Assist the Government of Lebanon, at its request, in securing its borders and other entry points to prevent the entry in Lebanon without its consent of arms or related materiel.

By this resolution, the Council also authorized UNIFIL to take all necessary action in areas of deployment of its forces and as it deems within its capabilities, to ensure that its area of operations is not utilized for hostile activities of any kind; to resist attempts by forceful means to prevent it from discharging its duties under the mandate of the Security Council; and to protect United Nations personnel, facilities, installations and equipment, ensure the security and freedom of movement of United Nations personnel, humanitarian workers and, without prejudice to the responsibility of the Government of Lebanon, to protect civilians under imminent threat of physical violence".

Yet years have passed with by and this same UN has been unable to do anything productive but talk, talk and their hopes for more talk about to inhuman situations in Somalia, Darfur, Zimbabwe etc).                                                                                                                                   

 
 

Somalia is a quagmire with no easy solution, but anything and everything must be done.

Somalis are fleeing strife-torn Mogadishu for the town of Galkayo, where this electronics store is named--perhaps ironically--for another troubled city on another continent.

Anna Husarska
Somalis are fleeing strife-torn Mogadishu for the town of Galkayo, where this electronics store is named—perhaps ironically—for another troubled city on another continent.

 

 
A Web-Exclusive Guest Commentary
by Anna Husarska
Updated: 22 minutes ago

Sept. 6, 2007 – It sounds like just another week in Baghdad. Two journalists are killed, a local peacemaker is assassinated in cold blood, a dignitary escapes a roadside attack by land mine, mortars hit a hospital as leaders discuss the advantages of establishing a Green Zone in the capital. Armed groups attack each other as well as foreign troops who entered the country to eliminate the Islamists accused of harboring Al Qaeda. But this isn’t Baghdad—it’s Mogadishu.

In Somalia clashes between Islamist-led insurgents and Ethiopian-backed government forces are constant—and underreported. They started in December 2006 when the Union of Islamic Courts (in power in south and central Somalia for just six months) was ousted by the current Transitional Federal Government, with support from the Ethiopian military, and with more than a tacit blessing from the United States.

The U.N. Security Council recently extended the African Union peacekeeping mission in Somalia and requested the secretary-general “to continue to develop the existing contingency planning for the possible deployment of a United Nations Peacekeeping Operation.” Very tentative language, but the current peacekeeping effort is tentative, too. Last February the United Nations authorized the deployment of an 8,000-strong AU force to Somalia. Six months later only 1,800 peacekeeping troops from Uganda are on the ground. But is there a peace for them to keep? A National Reconciliation Conference, the 13th such effort in a decade, ended Aug. 30 after a month and a half of deliberations in Mogadishu, with no peace and no reconciliation in sight.

On the contrary, mayhem is growing and the Iraq-style violence is resulting in an Iraq-style internal displacement; the United Nations puts the number of displaced people at 400,000 (from a total population of 7 million). This is almost as high a proportion as in Iraq, where 2 million are internally displaced and the population is 27 million. Because Somalis have nowhere to flee—Ethiopia, the intervening side, is not an option; Kenya closed its border and the flight across the Red Sea to Yemen is perilous—it is easier to ignore this quagmire internationally, since it has not produced refugees abroad.

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One of the favored destinations for the fleeing inhabitants of the Somali capital of Mogadishu is Galkayo, a town I visited recently for an assessment of humanitarian (water and sanitation) needs. It is 300 miles northeast of Mogadishu, and it sits exactly on the border of two clans traditionally at odds: the town’s southern half is Hawirye and the northern half is Darod.

No barbed wire, wall or river separates the two sides. Strangely, it is a range of displaced persons’ settlements that constitutes the buffer zone, because as outsiders—mostly ex-Mogadishu residents—its occupants are pushed toward the outer limit of each part of Galkayo. There are now 42,000 internally displaced persons in the Galkayo region, and July saw more than 1,000 new arrivals.

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