With growing refugee and famine
needs, the UN is having a difficult time raising additional money for food and
other aid. The U.S. isn't being criticized, because this year, over 90 percent
of the food, and other aid, that did show up, came from the United States. The
problem is that few other nations want to commit scarce aid dollars to Somalia.
The violence level and rapacious warlords make aid to Somalia seem wasteful,
compared to other nations in need. However, this battle between the
Transitional Government and the Islamic Courts involves only about two
thirds of the population. The rest is controlled by other governments.
Northern Somalia, which has been relatively quiet
since breaking away from Somalia in the 1990s to form Puntland (2.5 million
people) and Somaliland (3.5 million), is now embroiled in a border war. Gunmen
from both countries (or whatever, no one recognizes these breakaway areas) have
been shooting at each other in the disputed area (the town of Las Ano, near the
Ethiopian border). In a week of inconclusive fighting, there have been several
The clan warfare in Mogadishu is being decided by
Ethiopian and government troops driving people out of neighborhoods occupied by
clans that support the Islamic Courts. Actually, those clans support control of
Mogadishu, and dominating the local economy. The Transitional Government,
representing clans from outside the city, are taking over. This can be seen in
the chaos that has engulfed the Bakara Market, the largest business in the
city. The local clans are destroying the market with violence and arson, rather
than let the Transitional Government take control. As is usually the case in
Somalia, any change of government is accompanied by much gunfire,
bloodshed, and refugees fleeing. At this point, about 3,000 a week are being
driven from the city. The government is using the threat of continued
expulsions to get the Mogadishu clans to surrender. But there are extremist
factions that insist on fighting to the death.
Ethiopia sent a battalion of infantry to Baidoa, to
reinforce the Transitional Government forces there.
Somalia now has over a thousand UN trained police
officers, with the recent graduation of a second class of 600 officers.
The police academy is in Puntland, so many of the graduates stay there, with
most of them going south to the chaos of Mogadishu and surrounding areas.