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close this bookThe Somali Conflict (Oxfam)
close this folderPart IV: Kismayo: peace-making
View the document1. Background to the Kismayo wars
View the document2. The Kismayo peace conference
View the document3. A fragile peace
View the document4. Conclusions and recommendations

4. Conclusions and recommendations

In mid-August 1993, the Somali Red Crescent expressed concerns at continuing armed theft and rape in Kismayo; banditry was still a problem north of Jilib, and there have been questions about the behaviour and activities of the Belgian peacekeeping troops (African Rights, July 1993). However, the situation in Kismayo and Lower Juba in mid-August was as peaceful as at any time since January 1991.

This peaceful appearance does conceal a number of problems, which arise from several sources: bitterness among the Ogadenis and supporters of Jess displaced from Kismayo; the impact of returned refugees from Kenya; unaddressed land-ownership issues; political and economic divisions within the Marehan-Ogadeni-Harti alliance; the continued presence of large quantities of weapons within the region; the unknown effects of the District Council formation; and unresolved conflicts suspended due to the conflict in Mogadishu. Some or all of these are to some extent being held in abeyance by the presence of Belgian troops, and could re-emerge to destabilise the region in the future.

Economic interests are intrinsic to the war in Somalia. All the warlords have their financial backers, the 'godfathers'. Osman Atto, one of Aideed's main financiers, is one example. Many other Hawiye in Somalia and abroad have undoubtedly helped finance Aideed's campaign, both to protect their own kin, but also as a future investment. The same is true for all the other clan factions. The SNM, for example, were dependent on remittances from abroad to sustain their campaign against Barre. The brief description of the Harti factor in the Kismayo conflict and their financial networks in East Africa and the Gulf only begins to hint at the complex range of factors and invested interests that can influence political reconciliation and peace-making.

Economic interests, however, can be as much a driving force for peace as they are for conflict, as will be seen in the description of the Sanaag peace meeting in Somaliland, in Part V. The challenge is to look for ways in which conflicting interests can be transformed into common interests.

UNOSOM should receive some credit for helping to restore a semblance of peace to the Juba region. This achievement probably has more to do with the individuals involved in the process than with UNOSOM's own policies. One can draw out the following elements that contributed to the success of the reconciliation process to date:

· The Zone Director, Mark Walsh, was able to win the confidence and respect of the elders on both sides.

· He was able to draw on the support of Ken Menkhaus, a social scientist with a good knowledge of the Lower Juba region. He is the only foreigner in UNOSOM with specialised knowledge of Somalia.

· The presence of elder 'statesmen', Omar Moalim, Mohamed Abshir, Aden Abdille Osman, and particularly Omar Moalim, who is from the area, acting as mediators, helped the process.

· While their own behaviour has come under criticism, the Belgian UN troops have been able to stop the fighting, and therefore break the cycle of violence. Restrictions on the movement of heavy weapons (technicals) have helped to keep the peace. This improved security environment has helped to encourage the resumption of trade.

· The negotiations took place within Somalia, and more specifically within Kismayo.

· The negotiations were primarily between 'elders'. It was possible to marginalise the influence of the military warlords. That committees have continued to meet since the conference indicates that there was an interest on the part of the participants to see the process through.

· The negotiations took place over a period of two months, thus allowing time for some confidence building.

· Financial interests on the part of some members of the business community may also have been an important factor.

· The inter-marriage among clans in that region may also have helped the process. While Lower Juba is heterogeneous in its clan composition, many of those clans are linked through marriage. As seemed apparent in Galkaiyo, and can be seen more clearly in Somaliland, it may be easier for those groups linked affinally and with common xeer to reconcile their conflicts.

RECOMMENDATIONS: Expanded programmes: Agencies should consider ways of expanding their work to cover both sides of the 'green line'. This would provide the opportunity to avoid accusations of bias and the chance to understand the context and issues from different angles.Refugees: The return of large numbers of refugees to the region will place a lot of pressure on damaged infrastructure and resources, and could be a major source of tension. Agencies might consider ways of scaling up their programmes to assist in the resettlement and reintegration of these people. Many will be destitute and will have become dependent on HCR rations.Staff Training: Agencies may be called upon to mediate, or support local mediation or peace meetings. They might therefore consider a pilot training programme for staff in conflict resolution/mediation. Local resources are available in Nairobi through the Nairobi Peace Initiative.Land Land ownership is an unresolved issue in the region. It has been suggested that the conflict such as that in Kismayo can only finally be resolved through agrarian reform. Agencies might consider commissioning research to look at the issue, to help both their own understanding of the nature of the problem, and to inform future UN strategies in the region.

Research on the Jubaland Agreement: This report has been able to provide only a brief sketch of the peace-making process behind the Jubaland Agreement. Agencies might consider commissioning a thorough piece of research in order to understand better the successes and potential obstacles of this peace process. Such a study is necessary, in order to be able to anticipate future scenarios and to be able to plan for the future. In particular it is important to know the extent to which the agreement is based on a solid foundations of inter-clan agreements. Preferably a Somali should be commissioned for this work.

Trauma: Much bitterness remains among people on both sides of the 'green line', as a result of the trauma of years of war. MSF Belgium, World Concern, Somali Red Crescent, and the WAMO Women's Organisation have all identified psychological trauma and post-traumatic distress as a problem among the population in Kismayo. This needs to be addressed. Rape has also been identified as an on-going problem. Agencies might consider ways in which they could support a trauma programme for the victims of war.

Agencies might consider commissioning such bodies as the Medical Foundation for the Victims of Torture, with experience in this field, to assess the issue profesionally and provide some detailed recommendations. Particular attention should be given to indigenous healing practices.

UNHCR Kenya are presently implementing a rape-counselling and protection programme in Somali refugee camps in Kenya. Some of the victims may return to Kismayo and require further assistance. Information from the Somali Red Crescent and others suggests that it is an on-going problem in Kismayo. Agencies should consider linking up with the UNHCR on this and, in particular, with Fauzia A. Musa, who has pioneered their work.

Disability: This problem is not yet being addressed in Kismayo. Agencies might consider jointly commissioning a study to look at the extent of the problem. The Chairman of the former Association of Physically Disabled of Somalia, Abdulkadir Abdillahi Farah, is in Nairobi and would be a suitable person to do such an assessment.