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Somalia: culture, chaos and clans

The Story

Its military name, Operation Deliverance, has almost lofty connotations. When the 900 Canadian soldiers land in Somalia on Dec. 15, 1992, they will try to draw order from the chaos. As shown in this CBC report, famine and civil war are ravaging this small African country. At one time, Somalia was highly coveted for its geographical location, situated near oil wells in the Persian Gulf and along the ship routes from the Indian Ocean to the Red Sea. The country was released from its history of British and Italian imperial rule in 1960, but when Maj. Gen. Mohammed Siad Barré seized power in 1969, Somalia entered a new era of undemocratic rule. At the dawn of the Cold War, Somalia aligned itself with the Soviet Union. Soviet money, along with powerful weapons, flowed into the country to seal the partnership. But, in 1977 Somalia engaged in a border dispute with Ethiopia and the Soviet superpower dropped their alliance. The United States subsequently cemented a coalition with Somalia, sending over weapons and foreign aid. As the Cold War thawed, however, the partnership weakened and the United States withdrew. Clan warfare within the country intensified as powerful Cold War weaponry fell into rebel hands in a struggle for power. As infrastructure and order collapsed, famine spread through the country.

Medium: Television
Program: Prime Time News
Broadcast Date: Dec. 8, 1992
Guest(s): Frank Kriedler, I.M. Lewis
Host: Pamela Wallin
Reporter: Brian Stewart
Duration: 8:06

Did You know?

• On Dec. 2, 1992, American President George Bush called Prime Minister Brian Mulroney seeking support and resources for an American-led mission, named Operation Restore Hope, to the war-ravaged Somalia. Mulroney agreed and offered Canada's elite Airborne Regiment for duty.
• The Airborne Regiment was formed in 1968. The force served as peacekeepers in Cyprus in 1974 and acted as domestic security troops in the October Crisis and during the Oka standoff.

• Somalia is located on the eastern coast of Africa and borders the countries Djibouti, Ethiopia and Kenya. The country is roughly the same size as the province of Manitoba. The official language is Somali and the prominent religion is Sunni Muslim.
• It is estimated that roughly 300,000 people died during the Somalia famine and civil war.

• "I'm with children every day who are dying and these children are as important to me as any other child. They have a right to a future of some kind. And right now, they have no future." -- Gay Harper, Save The Children, 1992.
• The relief efforts in Somalia suffered at the hands of looters who would steal supplies and food. Some Somalis fled across the border to Kenya while others wandered from town to town in search of aid.


The Somalia Affair more