Following the overthrow of Siad Barre in 1991 and subsequent violence, a United States-led humanitarian and nation-building intervention under the auspices of the UN (the Unified Task Force, UNITAF) was initiated in 1993. The mission ended in 1995 after a firefight in Mogadishu that resulted in 18 US and about 24 Pakistani troop casualties. The preceding UN Peacekeeping Operation in Somalia (UNOSOM), which arrived in 1992, also withdrew in March 1995 when Somalis became hostile to the peacekeepers.
Heavy fighting broke out in early 2006 between the Islamic Courts Union (ICU) militia and Alliance for the Restoration of Peace and Counter-Terrorism (ARPCT). The warlords in Mogadishu were defeated by the ICU, civil society groups, business community and the general population of Mogadishu in early 2006. The ICU consolidated power over Mogadishu, through the establishment of courts and committees to administer the regions.
By July 2006, the Transitional Federal Government (TFG) invited Ethiopian troops into the country and by 26 December 2006, the Ethiopian Defence Forces (EDF) had chased the ICU out of the capital and other major towns. The ICU and other smaller groups joined to fight the Ethiopian troops whom they regarded as ‘occupation forces’. Thousands of people were killed in the fighting especially from indiscriminate firing of weapons such as mortars and rocket-propelled grenades and thousands more fled into camps. The withdrawal of Ethiopian troops from Somalia soil became the main precondition for any mediation talks.
In a letter to the UN Secretary-General the Ethiopian Government announced the withdrawal of its troops from Somalia and its troops left by 15 January 2009.
After prolonged negotiations, the TFG and the Alliance for the Re-liberation of Somalia (ARS) signed the Djibouti Agreement on 9 August 2008. The Agreement established the High-Level Committee (HLC) and the Joint Security Committee (JSC).
The JSC was to work out the details of the following four main tasks:
- Implement the ceasefire and cessation of armed hostilities agreement;
- Create conducive environment for unimpeded humanitarian access;
- Disengage TFG and ARS combatants from areas where they confront each other;
- Draw modalities for the withdrawal of Ethiopian Troops within 120 days.
Other requirements were for the parties to:
- Publicly declare ceasefire and cessation of armed hostilities through the media, press conference, radio broadcasts, etc;
- Combatants retain their weapons but restricted to specific areas;
- Establish humanitarian operations centre.
In October 2008, UNPOS and UNDP sponsored a two weeks workshop in Cape Town, South Africa, for members of the Joint Security Committee (JSC), facilitated by the African Centre for the Constructive Resolution of Disputes (ACCORD), a South African based peace research institute. At the end of the meeting the JSC members agreed on draft framework modalities for implementing cessation of armed hostilities to their principals.
Following the approval of the “Modalities for the Cessation of Armed Confrontation” on 26 October 2008, JSC members convened at an UNPOS/UNDP sponsored workshop in Naivasha, Kenya from 20-24 November to commence planning for the Transitional Security Arrangements. The parties agreed to establish a 5,000 strong Joint Security Forces (JSF), and a 10,000 civilian police to be drawn equally from TFG and ARS. In January 2009, the JSC relocated to Mogadishu but was confronted with a number of daunting challenges, including logistical support to function jointly on the ground.
UN Security Council adopted Resolution 1863 (2009), which was intended to strengthen the parties to make progress in implementing the Djibouti Agreement. The strategy was to strengthen AMISOM and help the parties to build security institutions to secure Mogadishu in order to achieve three main goals:
i) Facilitate relocation of the peace process to Somalia;
ii) Support the parties to create a minimum level of security that will contribute to improved protection of civilians and respect for human rights, strengthen the Djibouti process, and bring others to the table;
iii) Create conditions that would enable the deployment of a UN peacekeeping operation that can contribute effectively to supporting the peace process.
AMISOM was established pursuant to the African Union Peace and Security Council (AUPSC) Decision of 19 January 2007. The Force was to deploy in Somalia for an initial period of six months to; stabilize the security situation in Somalia; provide support to the Transitional Federal Institutions (TFIs); enhance dialogue and reconciliation; facilitate the provision of humanitarian assistance; and create conducive condition for long-term stabilization, reconstruction and development in Somalia. The authorized total strength is 8,000 but currently, only 4,300 troops, drawn from Uganda and Burundi and a Force Headquarters are deployed. The force is deployed in strategic locations such as Mogadishu airport; seaport; Kilometre 4 road junction; Villa Somalia-Presidency. From these locations it provides limited force protection and security to key ports of entry and infrastructure. AMISOM also conducts protection of VIPs and limited civil-military assistance projects including delivery of water and medical services to the adjacent population. The force is equipped with a number of tanks and mine-protected vehicles, and a limited number of armoured personnel carriers.
The new President, his Government and Parliament moved to Mogadishu in February 2009. On 7 May 2009, Al-Shabaab and Hizbul launched a fierce attack to forcefully overthrow the TFG government. Hundreds of people were killed and injured and tens of thousands were displaced. Although the insurgents made initial gains, capturing some strategic places, they were unable to achieve their objective. A second round of fighting occurred from 21-22 June as TFG forces attempted to retake the city from radical Islamist forces. On 22 June President Sheikh Sharif Ahmed declared a state of emergency and asked for military assistance from Kenya, Djibouti, Ethiopia and Yemen.
- On 22 February, a suicide bomb attack on AMISOM base in Mogadishu left 11 Burundian soldiers dead and another 15 wounded.
- On 18 June, a suicide bomber detonated an explosive laden vehicle at Medina Hotel in Beletwyne, killing Colonel Omar Hashi, TFG Internal Security Minister, and more than 30 people.
Suicide bombing was not common practice in Somalia and therefore earlier incidents were attributed to foreign fighters. Recent incidents confirmed the contrary, that Somali nationals are indeed involved in suicide attacks. Prominent incidents in 2009 include:
Most of the hardline, extremists Islamic groups are believed to have links with Al Qaeda. Foreign fighters who are aiding the Al-Shabab are suspected to originate from a variety of countries, including, Pakistan, Afghanistan, South Africa, USA and Europe. These fighters could export terrorism back to their own countries and to Somalia’s neighbours.
The objective of UNPOS with regard to the police is to help establish appropriate strategies, which ensure that the actors and stakeholders engaged in the development of the Somali Police including the UN, integrate their efforts towards the establishment of a credible and professionally trained body of men and women committed to policing and service delivery to the communities.
Currently, the Somali police is configured in three regions namely, North West [Somaliland], North East [Puntland] and South Central.
Prior to the collapse of the Siad Barre government in 1991, the Somali Police Force was structured under a unified command with an established strength of 20,000. The police in South Central is presently estimated at around 7,000, out of which about a third have received standard police training under the UNDP Rule of Law and Security programme, and are undertaking various task mainly in Mogadishu.
The rest are trained under various bilateral arrangements between the Transitional Federal Government [TFG] of Somalia and development partners in the region, and are yet to be certified to increase the number of police personnel who have attained the requisite standard of training.
Under the peace agreement between the TFG and the opposition Alliance for the Re-Liberation of Somalia [ARS], ten thousand police officers are required to maintain security in Mogadishu and its environs. International donor support is being requested for training of the remainder number of personnel to the estimated 10,000, and to provide the requisite equipment and stipend to ensure their retention and the discharge of their duties.
In order to achieve the necessary integration of efforts of all stakeholders, UNPOS creates the appropriate mechanisms at ensuring that donor efforts are properly coordinated and channeled to have maximum effect and benefit to the Somali people.
Since, a well reformed and accountable police is crucial to peace and the maintenance of law and order, UNPOS is expected to provide advice and political guidance in both training and management of the Somali police to ensure that they become amenable to democratic control and civilian oversight. Additionally, UNPOS is coordinating efforts with UNDP, AMISOM and the Donor Community to provide developmental assistance to the Somali Police within the framework of an overall Security Sector Reform of Somalia which will result in a police system strongly committed to the rule of law, respect for human rights, and adequately resourced to be self-sustaining in all its operations.