An Unexpected Journey: Somalia 1992-1993
by Anthony Dillett
Tony Dillett is on a humanitarian mission with the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) in Somalia in 1992-1993. It is an extremely dangerous assignment. The civil war that ended in January 1991, left a vacuum in which anarchy reigned supreme. Additionally, the population is being decimated by a famine that would eventually claim the lives of some 350,000 Somalis.
After the downfall of the dictator, Siad Barre, in January 1991 there was a power struggle between two factions, one led by the Interim President Ali Mahdi Mohamed and the other by General Mohammad Farrah Aidid. Those factions were, in fact, allies in the fight to depose Siad Barre. The discord between them was further complicated by the fact that they were members of related sub-clans, the Abgal and Habar Gidir. That meant they were members of the same family—cousins, in other words, but the pursuit of power negated any clan relationship.
The United Nations Security Council establishes the United Nations Office in Somalia (UNOSOM) in April 1992. Pakistani Peacekeepers form part of UNOSOM’s mandate and try to stem the violence, but are unable to do so.
Just before leaving office, President George H W Bush intervenes in Somalia on humanitarian grounds. The first contingent of U.S forces, that would eventually total 25,000, arrives in Somalia January 9, 1993 and the security situation improves. However, after his inauguration in January 1993, President Bill Clinton announces a reduction in the number of soldiers to 1,200 by May 1993. The planned reduction emboldens the warring factions to resume attacks on each other and coalition forces.
On June 5, 1993 twenty-four Pakistani Peacekeepers are killed by General Mohamed Farrah Aidid’s militia. U.S Rangers are deployed to capture Aidid. On August 30, 1993, Tony’s residence is mistakenly attacked by the Rangers, he is assaulted and subsequently suffers from PTSD. He is in Mogadishu during the "Black Hawk Down" incident. He learns afterwards that armored vehicles and Bradley tanks, requested by Officers commanding the troops, were not approved by the bureaucrats in Washington, placing the troops at risk.
Tony is in Nairobi in mid-November 1993, where he becomes ill and a doctor diagnoses him with a virulent strain of typhoid fever. Providentially his wife, Raquel, is with him one night as he goes into shock and would have died but for her decisive action. Raquel takes Tony to New York where he is also diagnosed with an infected abdominal aortic aneurysm. Tony’s doctor tells Raquel that she should pray for divine intervention because the combined medical skills at Lenox Hill Hospital cannot save his life…
An Unexpected Journey: Somalia 1992-1993 Anthony Dillett
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