As the United Nations withdrew the last of its troops from Somalia by December 31, Christian relief-and-development agencies on the scene were hoping for the best while preparing for the worst. With security deteriorating and signs of anarchy spreading across the poor nation of 7.2 million on the Horn of Africa, they are moving Western personnel to safety while trying to keep humanitarian efforts—and Somali people—alive as best they can.
"Security is not very good," says Ted Yamamori, president of Scottsdale, Arizona-based Food for the Hungry, which sent $1.5 million worth of food and medicine to the country in 1993. "The situation appears to be going back to the way it was before the un forces went in a couple of years ago."
Somalia's dictator, Mohammed Siyad Barre, was forced into exile three years ago after 21 years in power. Starvation and mayhem spread as various warlords battled for control with weapons doled out during the Cold War by the United States and the Soviet Union. Finally, in December 1992, George Bush sent in U.S. troops to bring order and protect relief efforts. But after 18 U.S. Army Rangers were killed, President Clinton pulled out all U.S. forces by last March.
Although the now-departed un troops remained, security during 1994 was spotty. In February, a bomb in Baidoa seriously injured health worker Marco Meneses of World Vision, and what was believed to be a recoilless rifle blasted a nine-foot hole in the wall of World Concern's compound in Mogadishu. Christian and secular agencies have faced looting, kidnapping, and other forms of intimidation and violence.
Relief agencies wary: Most groups, such as Food for the Hungry, have pulled their Western staff out of harm's way and are waiting to ...1