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Stacks Somalia on the legs

In the world's most anarchist country, 40.000 children are threatened by starvation. This week's peace treaty is a step forward for Somalia.


[famine] Nuurto Abdullahi lies in her mother's lap, too weak to hold her body up on her own. It's 30 degrees, and the flies are floating around her inside the premises of the French aid organization Action Contre la Faim in Wajid, in southwestern Somalia.

Around her are several children in the prisoners of their mothers in the same way. Some strong enough to scream, others just lying with their mouths open. But when the nutritional mixture arrives, Nuurto grabs the orange cup and slowly slurps into the mixture. Nuurto is three years old, but is the size of one year old.

- Cruel to see, says the resigned Prime Minister Kjell Magne Bondevik, who has now become UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan's special envoy for the Horn of Africa.

A couple of weeks ago he returned from his trip to the Horn of Africa. Ny Tid's correspondent was the only Norwegian journalist during the week-long trip.

In addition to the famine disaster, the country is still hit by military conflicts. After eight days of fighting in Mogadishu and above

140 killed, a peace agreement was signed on Sunday between the various war clans.

Now the hope is linked to the new parliament in the inland village of Baidoa.

Chronic disaster

Nuurto is one of the victims of what the UN characterizes as the worst drought disaster in ten years. 40.000 children are threatened by starvation death in the Horn of Africa, according to figures from the UN Children's Fund last week. Large areas in all of the countries of the Horn of Africa have been hit, after the rain has once again either disappeared or come in too small quantities. In Kenya, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Djibouti and Somalia, rain has rained in the last month and a half, but far from enough.

In Doro Mara, the village of Nuurto comes from, the drought has been creeping since before Christmas.

- When the grass ran out, the animals died, and that

left the whole village without food, explains

Nuurtos mother, Anyuuro Abiyey Moalim (48).

She herself is clearly malnourished, but managed to carry Nuurto the eight miles to

the nutrition center of Wajid.

Not everyone comes on time. In April, five children died at the nutrition center, simply because they arrived too late.

- We have many problems. Three adults

women died of a measles outbreak, many have diarrhea due to unclean drinking water from open sources and five of Nuurto's playmates in the village have died of malnutrition. We need help, Anyuuro asks.

Bondevik elaborates:

- A large proportion of the population in these countries are farmers, and with such large losses of animals as they have had as a result of water shortages, it goes without saying that the problems will continue. The underlying cause is poverty. In many cases, both individuals and local communities could take precautions, but there is a lack of money.

The drought problem on the Horn of Africa has gradually become chronic, with a gradual deterioration in recent years. Nor does Bondevik have any miracle cure for changing the situation.

The kids at the nutrition center he visited in Wadjid are lucky. They have come to the aid without major obstacles.

- That's the complete chaos here. The people who need help can often not move, because local militia groups stop them, and sometimes plunder them, Christian Balslev explains.

Olesen, Unicef ​​representative in Somalia.


In 2004, most clans were able to agree to form a parliament in a peace initiative. This initiative has proved far more successful than the unsuccessful approach the UN had in the 1990s, which caused the organization to pull out in 1995. This time, it is not the international community, but the Somalis themselves who run the show. The many subclans have come much closer to a consensus than they have ever been, albeit with considerable outside help.

When Parliament met in Baidoa, west of Mogadishu in January, it was the first time in fifteen years that a Somali unity government met on Somali land. It marked a major step forward in the interaction between the countless sub-

clans. Perhaps the most promising to get

stacked a stable, peaceful Somalia on their feet is that they do not want a unit.

The main difference in the thinking behind the peace initiative now, compared to when the UN had to withdraw in 1995, is that Somalia cannot be brought together. Both Somalis and the international forces involved in bringing together a government also look to several independent states, united in the United Somali states.

Forced to unity

Somalia's challenge is the very special clan composition. The vast majority of Somalis are of the same ethnicity, but they are divided into four main clans, which together make up about 83 percent of the population. Under these again, however, it is

a huge number of subclans, and it is in their relationship that the key to the solutions lies.

During the violent civil war of the 1990s, a new saying was created: "Somalia against the world, my clan against Somalia, my lineage against my clan, my family against my lineage and my brother against me."

Much of the divide in the area arose after the European colonization of the area from the late 1800s. It was not until 1960 that the area was liberated when the former colonies British Somaliland and Italian Somaliland were merged. In addition, a large proportion of Somalis live in the south-eastern border areas of Ethiopia, a border that is strikingly straight. French Somaliland became independent under the name Djibouti.

The colonial rulers usually focused on selected clans to hold power, so the divide in the area increased.

During the 1960s, several coups followed before General Siad Barre took power in 1969. Barre disputed power, including holding down clan oppositions with an iron hand. He also wanted to unite the Somalis in Ethiopia with his homeland by moving the border, and after a little successful invasion he lost the Soviet Union's support to Ethiopia.

Because of the emergence of the strong, Soviet-backed big brother in the northwest, Barre turned to the United States, which made sure he could stay in power until the end of the Cold War.


It was no coincidence that Barre was thrown in 1991, not long after the fall of the Soviet Union. The Somali state collapsed with the general. Clan contradictions grew, and what eventually became known as the world's most anarchist state grew instead.

The United States landed in 1993, paving the way for a United Nations operation that sought to contain the contradictions in the country. It was a failed approach. After two years, the UN had suffered so many civilian and military losses that the organization withdrew. It was a controversial decision just one year after the organization did the same in Rwanda.

In the total anarchy that followed the UN withdrawal, a new mindset was created. A number of states declared themselves independent in the next few years, and several of them managed to create more peaceful conditions than before. Today, Somaliland, the northwest, is one of the most peaceful parts of former Somalia. Last year, the country held a choice that international observers found little to put their finger on.

Even in Puntland in the northeast, conditions are calmer than in the rest of Somalia. The area is self-managed but does not want independence. Instead, the authorities want to reunite with Somalia as a continued autonomous part when the rest of Somalia has become stable peacefully.

This is the same line of thinking that has allowed the subclans to unite in a parliament that, by the way, the Puntan president, Mohamud Muse Hersi, was elected president of. Parliament is what is internationally recognized as Somalia, although it only has a small part of the area between the two major rivers south of the country. The hope, however, is that the cooperation government will be able to create peace and unity in the rest of the country as well, not least by defeating all the freelance militia.

When the first parliament on Somali land was assembled in February, it took place in Baidoa, the city that in practice serves as the capital. Mogadishu is an unstable place divided into zones between various warlords who fought as late as last week.

That is why in Baidoa Kjell Magne Bondevik met with parliamentary leader Sharif Hassan and Prime Minister Ali Mohammed Gedi.

- I want to congratulate you for what you have achieved so far in pulling Somalia in a peaceful direction, and I hope you continue so that you get rid of the image you have gradually gained. When people think Somalia, they think anarchy, was Kjell Magne Bondevik's message to the top politicians.

But he got the answer to the image challenge from the new MP:

- We are cooperating now. Look, now we are standing here together, replied Sharif Hassan Sheikh Aden, who heads the transitional parliament.

He has now declared that parliament can move to Mogadishu in a matter of months, as long as the international community helps.

Most Somalis work for a peaceful coexistence with a certain degree of self-government. At least that is the positive interpretation of the most common way of saying hi in the country: "Nabad Myaa". Directly translated it means, "Is it peace?"


  • Kjell Magne Bondevik recently visited the affected Somalia as the UN Special Envoy for Humanitarian Affairs on the Horn of Africa.
  • Last week, warlords attacked Somalia's capital, Mogadishu, at the same time as 40.000 children were threatened by starvation.
  • Somalia has about nine million inhabitants. 60 percent live nomadic or partially nomadic.
  • 40 percent of the Horn of Africa population is malnourished and the disaster grows with each passing day.
  • Just before Easter, Kjell Magne Bondevik launched a regional appeal on behalf of the UN in which they asked the world to give 426 million dollars – equivalent to 2,7 billion kroner.
  • The crisis has worsened after years of conflicts, lack of land, population growth, high food prices and widespread spread of HIV / AIDS.


(text and photo)

Believe in a peace solution

By Dag Herbjørnsrud

[conference] On Monday, nine Somali associations will gather at the Red Cross premises in Oslo. A two-day peace conference will highlight how Somalia will emerge from the crisis.

- There is a 75 percent chance of peace if we now make the right commitment, says Mohammed Hassan Ali Mamow.

He is the leader of the Somali Inter-Riverine Cultural Association in Norway.

- We think it is good that Bondevik and the UN are now going to Somalia and bring out the problems. We must remember that the area now affected by famine was in fact formerly Somalia's breadbasket. The civil war of the 1990s has destroyed much. And it takes time to heal the division from the colonial era. Unfortunately, Norwegian aid organizations have not been present in the areas of Somalia that are hardest hit by famine. But we hope it can be better in the future, says Mamow.

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