Second United Nations Operations in Somalia

August 1993 — January 1995

In 1990 a loose association of Somali clans ousted President Siad Barre from power in the strategically placed East African country, which dominates the entrance to the Red Sea. Two of the clan leaders, Ali Mahdi and General Farah Aideed, took the main positions but soon fell out. Vicious inter-clan fighting led to the deaths of 30,000 Somalis in 1991/1992, in addition to the estimated 200,000 who died as a result of famine.

International aid agencies trying to alleviate the effects of the famine were unable to operate effectively due to the looting of ships and aid convoys, and the murder of aid workers in the country, which had descended into anarchy.

In January 1992 UNSCR 733 led to the establishment of UNOSOM. However the strength of the initial force was inadequate. After visits to Somalia by Foreign Minister David Andrews and President Mary Robinson, Ireland agreed to contribute a transport company.

However, a deteriorating situation in the country led to the UN Security Council invoking Chapter VII of the UN Charter in November 1992. UNSCR 794 effectively changed the mission to one of peace enforcement. This caused 1 Tpt Coy's deployment to be delayed as new legislation was required in the Dáil for Irish troops to participate in peace enforcement missions. Also UNOSOM had been sidelined by the US-led UNITAF task force. With a strength of 37,000 UNITAF quickly stabilised the situation and handed over to UNOSOM II in May 1993. The new mission had a revised mandate, which included the requirement to disarm the Somali factions. On June 5th, 24 Pakistani UNOSOM troops were killed in fighting with Aideed's clan, and in October 18 US Rangers, operating independently of UNOSOM, were also killed, leading to the US declaring its intention to pull all its troops out by the end of March 1994.

It was into this cauldron that 1 Tpt Coy eventually flew in September 1993. Equipped with 40-plus vehicles, the Irish contingent was based in Camp Shannon in Baidoa, 177 miles from Mogadishu. The Irish contingent's main task was ferrying supplies for the brigade based in the Baidoa region. Initially this was a French brigade but they were replaced towards the end of 1993 by an Indian brigade.

The weekly 'Mog run' to Mogadishu, where all supplies arrived, was a dangerous affair. Even in the wake of an October 1993 ceasefire attacks aimed at capturing vehicles, arms or food were still a regular feature of life in Somalia. One such attack on the 'Mog run' during 2 Tpt Coy's tour of duty led to a fire fight between the convoy's Indian escort and a large group of bandits, resulting in the deaths of at least 11 of the attackers.

In September 1994, the Irish contingent withdrew from the mission, although Lt Col Dorcha Lee, UNOSOM's Senior SO Co-ordination, remained in his position until the mission came to a complete end in February 1995.

Operation Details
Duration August 1993 — January 1995
Operation type: UN led Peacekeeping Operations (Troops)
Commitment: 177 cumulative missions 

Visit the official website of UNOSOM II


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