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Bulletin No 4 - Horn of Africa - Somalia

07-07-2006 Operational Update No 06/04

Latest report on ICRC activities in the field - Working between waves of armed conflict and natural disaster

The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) runs approximately 300 projects a year in Somalia and is a key provider of emergency aid for victims of conflict and natural disaster in the country. The organization works primarily in central and southern Somalia, where armed clashes are occurring.

The ICRC is helping thousands of displaced persons, resident populations whose lives have been made harder by the conflict and a significant number of war-wounded.

Despite the volatile security situation, the ICRC was able to step up its presence, responding to needs arising from the harsh drought in central and southern Somalia. The organization rapidly deployed humanitarian aid in a combined operation with the Somali Red Crescent Society (SRCS).


 Since January 2006, the ICRC has:  

  •  renovated 123 water supply systems;

  •  trucked half a million litres of water per day to around 800,000 people in more than 60 villages (between February and April);

  •  provided chlorine for 400 wells and 8,000 sacks of cement for maintaining water supply systems;

  •  maintained/repaired boreholes, wells, water treatment plants and rainwater catchments,

  •  provided over 300,000 people with food;

  •  provided nearly 240,000 people with essential household items and shelter materials.

In June, the ICRC’s Somalia delegation gradually started to reduce its emergency response, stopping all water trucking operations. The delegation will end its drought assistance programme by mid-July.

Currently, activities are shifting back to the regular " livelihood " programmes, mainly in drought-affected areas.


  •  supplied 23,000 families with 15 kg of seed per family, allowing each family to plant about one hectare; the expected harvest will cover approximately 50% of a family's annual cereal consumption;

  •  treated 620,000 animals against parasites, bacterial diseases and disease transmitted by the Tsetse fly.

 Maintaining capacity to respond to all types of humanitarian emergency  

Between February and June 2006, urban warfare in Mogadishu resulted in displacement and heavy casualties among civilians and deeply affected a population already suffering from fifteen years of armed violence.

  •  In June, the ICRC supplied 19,000 displaced families living under extreme conditions in Mogadishu with tarpaulins, mats, kitchen sets, clothes, blankets, soap, washing basins, shovels and rakes.

  •  The ICRC continues to support two referral surgical hospitals in Mogadishu – the SRCS-run Keysaney and Madina Hospitals – helping them to treat people injured by weapons and to handle other surgical and medical emergencies. These hospitals provide impartial medical care to all patients regardless of clan or political/religious affiliation. Since the beginning of 2006, the two hospitals have treated more than 1,700 people injured by weapons.

In the countryside, casualties of war often die or suffer unnecessary complications, either because there is no hospital nearby or because they cannot afford treatment. The ICRC is therefore supporting five first aid posts, with the objectives of collecting and stabilizing patients with weapon wounds and trauma-related injuries, and getting them to hospital when necessary.

It is often difficult or impossible to send people to hospital in Mogadishu because of security problems. The ICRC has responded by:

  •  upgrading two referral hospitals in Merka and Jowhar;

  •  providing other hospitals (Galkayo, Adado, Abudwak and temporary hospitals in Benadir) with medical supplies during clashes between opposing parties;

  •  supporting 21 SRCS clinics providing treatment and first aid in conflict-affected areas of central and southern Somalia.

Many Somalis have lost touch with their relatives because the security situation restricts their movements and they cannot afford private communication services. The ICRC and the Somali Red Crescent Society are therefore providing tracing and Red Cross message services, enabling thousands of Somalis uprooted by the instability in their country to locate each other and exchange news with their families, at home and abroad.

The ICRC has been working in Somalia since 1977. As a neutral, independent and humanitarian organization, the ICRC endeavours to mitigate the impact of conflict and natural disaster on the daily life of the population. ICRC activities in Somalia include water, health, agricultural, veterinary and relief projects.


 For further information, please contact:  

  Pédram Yazdi, ICRC Somalia (in Nairobi), tel. +254 20 2723 963 or +254 722 51 81 42  

  Ian Piper, ICRC Geneva, tel. +41 22 730 2063 or +41 79 217 3216