Mogadishu ‘secure for emergency aid’




Bigger deliveries urged as factions accept UN troops

Mark Huband in Nairobi

The Guardian, 13 August 1992

The United Nations’ special envoy to Somalia appealed yesterday for large amounts of food aid to be sent to the country after its four faction leaders signed an agreement allowing in 500 UN troops to protect emergency food convoys and Mogadishu’s international airport.

Mohamed Sahnoun said the agreement should be the signal for countries to begin sending bilateral food aid. All the food sent so far, except 2,000 tonnes sent by France last week, has been through relief organisations, notably the International Committee of the Red Cross, which has sent 70,000 tonnes since January.

Mr Sahnoun said Somalia was receiving around 10,000 tonnes of food a month, a quarter of its needs.

Mr Sahnoun did not give a specific date for the arrival of the troops.

The agreement with the four faction leaders, who are grouped together as the Somali National Alliance (SNA), marks a significant about-turn on their part. They had long opposed any UN military presence on the grounds that it would constitute an occupation of the country.

The agreement, signed in the west Somali town of Bardera at the headquarters of the main faction leader, General Mohamed Farah Aideed, allows the troops to oversee the unloading of food at the port and escort it to distribution centres in the city.

The agreement was reached after a two-week conference between Gen Aideed’s United Somali Congress, the Somali Popular Movement (SPM) led by Colonel Ahmed Omar Jess, the South Somali National Movement (SSNM) of  Apdi  Warsarme, and the Somali Democratic Movement (SDM) led by Mohamed Noor Ali.

At a joint press conference yesterday after the signing, all the factions made it clear they had acceded to the UN’s request to send in troops because of their own inability to resolve the critical food shortage.

Equally, they blamed donors for not giving enough.

“We believe that the international community and the donor countries and the United Nations have not given adequate humanitarian assistance. And the Somali people feel that the international community has abandoned it,” Gen Aideed said.

Mr Sahnoun left Mogadishu airport yesterday morning during a battle in the nearby Medina district, where Gen Aideed’s Habargadir clan have been fighting with the Abgal clan of the country’s self-styled interim president, Ali Mahdi Mohamed, for the past four days. Bullets were flying over the airport as his plane left.

SNA leaders said yesterday that they had been in contact with leaders in the Republic of   Somaliland in the hope that they would join efforts to ease the famine, which is threatening 1.5 million people with starvation.


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