Observations Regarding the Northern Conflict and Resulting Conditions]

NSIAD-89-159: Published: May 4, 1989. Publicly Released: May 22, 1989.

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Pursuant to a congressional request, GAO provided information on the conflict between the Somali government and the opposition Somali National Movement, focusing on: (1) Somali refugees' reasons for fleeing to Ethiopia; (2) the extent of destruction in Hargeisa, Somalia's second largest city; (3) types and use of U.S. assistance provided during the conflict; (4) the United Nations' (UN) role in distributing U.S. assistance and its reaction to the arming of refugees; and (5) the conditions under which refugees would return to Somalia.

GAO found that: (1) refugees, many of whom were more affluent and independent than other Somalis, began evacuating conflict areas after the first week of fighting, reporting such human rights abuses as imprisonment without trial or charge and summary execution by the Somali army; (2) Hargeisa suffered extensive damage from artillery and aerial shelling in its residential areas, marketplace, and downtown public buildings; (3) the Somali government has not acted to restore Hargeisa's lack of electricity or a functioning water system, although it is actively soliciting multilateral and bilateral donors for reconstruction assistance; (4) the United States provided $1.9 million in disaster assistance and $1.4 million in military assistance; (5) the conflict seriously disrupted UN food relief deliveries and severely damaged UN operations; (6) the Somali government and UN reached an agreement to continue assistance programs after UN halted food assistance deliveries to camps with armed refugees; (7) UN probably will not provide reconstruction assistance until security conditions are adequate for international program monitoring representatives; (8) refugees expressed reluctance to return to Somalia in the near future, unless the government removed its army from the conflict areas; and (9) the Somali government provided amnesty to those involved in the conflict, released 300 of 1,000 political prisoners, and formed a committee to deal with problems in the conflict areas.

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