The ICRC in Somalia
In Somalia, the ICRC, in close partnership with the Somali Red Crescent Society (SRCS), responds to the needs of conflict victims, often aggravated by natural disasters. It provides emergency assistance, long-term support for community self-reliance, promotes and monitors international humanitarian law and visits detainees.
The ICRC has been working in Somalia since 1977 when it responded to the crisis that arose from the war between Ethiopia and Somalia. Since 1982, it has maintained a presence in Somalia. Its delegation is based in Nairobi since 1994.
Somalia – one of the ICRC's largest operations – remains profoundly affected by decades-long humanitarian crises of internal conflict and frequent climactic disasters. Following on 18 years of civil war, fighting between the current transitional government forces backed by African Union troops (AMISOM) and the armed opposition continues into its third year, perpetuating major concerns about the population's security.
To ensure those wounded by weapons receive appropriate medical care, the ICRC supports two emergency hospitals in Mogadishu, in addition to 43 SRCS primary health care and mother-and-child clinics (of which 12 are mobile). Ad hoc emergency assistance is provided in case of mass casualties to SRCS and other medical facilities across Somalia.
Food security and livelihoods
In 2011, Somalia experienced the worst annual crop production in many years, which resulted in high displacement and mortality and prompted the ICRC to launch a large food relief operation. Since then, the food security situation has improved significantly. However, because of the severity of the crisis, large segments of the Somali population remain vulnerable, especially during the current "hunger gap" (the few months leading up to a harvest between April and July). The ICRC therefore continued to respond to these nutritional needs, with major distributions of food in south-central Somalia and Puntland in April and May 2012.
Decades of conflict and natural disaster have severely impaired the population's capacity to sustain itself economically. Consequently, for many years, the ICRC has focused its assistance primarily on carrying out agricultural, fisheries, water and cash-for-work projects designed to restore or improve livelihoods and economic security in communities weakened by these crises. In 2011, almost 1,300,000 people benefited from projects aimed at promoting community self-sustainability, and the institution aims to assist a similar number of people in 2012.
Visits to detainees and promotion of IHL
The ICRC seeks to engage in dialogue with all of the various parties to the conflict, including on the rules applicable to the conduct of hostilities. In line with its neutral, impartial and independent monitoring role, the ICRC has re-started prison visits, initially in Mogadishu, in order to monitor the treatment and conditions of detention, in particular for people detained in relation to the conflict.
The ICRC works closely with, and provides substantial support to, the SRCS, its main operational partner. Beyond the joint health programming, the two organizations help to reunite families separated by conflict or natural disaster by using the Red Cross / Red Crescent message system, its family links website and radio broadcasts.