The following is an excellent analysis by Fred Cuny of what is
wrong with the humanitarian relief system. It is an edited version of a
memorandum he wrote on July 28, 1994 to former Representative Steve Solarz
(D-NY).  Cuny was answering questions Solarz had asked about the problems with
the existing system and the ways in which they might be solved through the
creation of the International Crisis Group (ICG), a world-wide
crisis-intervention organization that Fred was trying to start with others at
the time of his disappearance.

INTERTECT, Sarajevo Field Office

Sarajevo, BiH

Responses to Request for Additional Information

from Steve Solarz

1. There is widespread recognition that the international humanitarian system is not working: See:

Debates within UN leading up to formation of DHA.

Testimony before the Commission on Security and Cooperation in Europe in Congress about problems in Bosnia October, 1993.

2. Too many lives are being lost, too many resources are being wasted, too many people are not being properly helped:

Just watch the current operation in Goma, Zaire. The world community knew that people were streaming toward the border but only a few agencies reacted until the press got there. The UN didn't take sufficient precautions in Zaire to prepare for a massive outflow and the system was over-stretched from trying to deal with the problems in Tanzania. Now the military has been forced into the fray, yet is the overall commander on the ground an experienced or trained relief specialist?

One other note on the situation in Goma. The big killer will be impure water and a lack of sanitation. Did you notice that no relief agencies had any large scale water purification systems on hand? -- not the UN nor the NGOs. It took the US military to arrive with packaged water treatment plants. And once again, how many of the NGOs specialize in preventative medicine or public health?

ICG would have 1) monitored the flow of events and predicted a large outflow of refugees into Zaire, 2) urged the international community to start shifting resources into the border zone, 3) urged the French to move security forces into the area to try to create a sense of security there which would undercut the pressures on people to leave, 4) pushed the military establishments of the West to have water purification equipment on standby for immediate deployment in case the people did come out, and 5) would have recommended a strategy to undercut the population flow as soon as it was evident that the people were going to move. We also could have given some money, via the catalytic grants, to encourage the agencies to preposition equipment and supplies.

3. There is insufficient coordination of complex emergencies and too many delays getting into operation with sufficient resources to turn situations around:

On coordination of complex emergencies (conflicts with famines or other natural disasters); there are several problems:

First, there is no operational agency within the UN that has a mandate for working in all the necessary geographic or technical areas. While DHA has the task of coordinating, they really don't bring much to the table: no money, little expertise, no stockpiles. Again, look at what is happening in Rwanda. UNHCR has a mandate for refugees but only after they cross the border into Zaire or Tanzania, UNICEF only looks after children and their mothers. Who looks after the displaced before they become refugees, who looks after those who remain in their villages? In Ethiopia in the 1980s, the UN focused almost exclusively on drought and famine issues and almost totally ignored the war in the north (despite the fact that that was where the famine started). Many of the plans they proposed to deal with food shortages were based on economic planning that was impossible to carry out in markets that were artificially constrained by the fighting.

Second, UN agencies work according to mandates, international law, international standards and generally accepted practices. Because there is no agency tagged with looking into all aspects of complex emergencies, no operational doctrines have evolved to guide the planners or decision-makers. Since there are no cross-border or cross-mandate doctrines or operational arrangements, there will be long delays while agencies sort themselves out (or a donor comes along and forces them to coordinate and cooperate). You may remember how long it took to get coordination going in Mozambique -- two years. Or in Southern Sudan -- from 1985 to late 1988! Or in Somalia where the UN was on again, off again from 1989 through 1992.

A third problem is that planning is usually little more than who gets to the decision-maker first with an idea. You may have heard Pres. Clinton talking about sending ORS to Goma: he was obviously briefed to talk about that because it is one of the important responses when you have high diarrhea rates and is one of the things that UNICEF and their NGO operating partners do well (I'll bet you a thousand dollars he had just been on the phone to Jim Grant!). But is not a strategy, it is a tool -- only one of many -- for dealing with one of hundreds of problems. What happens is that the top decision- makers (in this case Atwood and Clinton) get bombarded with requests by the UN agencies and NGOs to give their programs priority and the overall response revolves around who gets listened to first. ICG's duty would be to get there first with a PLAN.

4. When operations do get underway, they are often poorly planned and do not incorporate strategic thinking about how to bring a situation under control: Best examples, Somalia 1989-1992 (for a good study of the problem, see the recent Refugee Policy Group Study of the Somalia operation); Southern Sudan 1985-88, 1992-present; Western Sudan (the Darfur War 1989-91); Burundi 1992-3; Ethiopia 1983-85.

5. Once on course, there are no corrective mechanisms to encourage agencies to abandon ineffective programs or to try new approaches:

The only pressures on the UN to change course come from donors but after a situation has become so bad that the problems are catastrophic. There is no "Relief Watch" or operational inspector general or even ombudsman within the system. The ICG could play that role. Example: The UN strategy of only feeding people in government-held garrison towns in northern Ethiopia led the rebel leaders to send hundreds of thousands of people to Sudan as refugees. The UN only reluctantly agreed to contribute food to a cross-line feeding program worked out with the rebels and the churches (the "Northern Initiative," 1985) after tremendous pressures from the US and other donors. The entire situation might have been prevented had there been an organization such as ICG to assess the potential for such a move by the rebels.-- there was plenty of warning that the rebels would not allow their people to go to the cities (the rebels themselves told everyone who would listen) but there was no credible agency to present that information to the UN or the donors. ICG could assess the quality and accuracy information coming from irregular sources. In a similar situation, ICG could assess the potential for the rebels to send their people out of the country, watch whether they were actually making preparations to do so, and if they were starting to move 1) try to get the UN to change its policies and 2) work to preposition supplies in the areas where the people would be crossing the border. Largely because ICG staff could meet with the rebels (the UN can rarely do so without the host government's permission), it could have developed a more accurate assessment of what would happen.

Deficiencies in operations management:

1) Lack of expertise

Examples: Somalia. Not one agency in Somalia developed a plan for restocking livestock during the famine despite dozens of studies of famine (including some in Somalia) that point to the importance of livestock to food security among rural families, especially pastoralists (80% of the people in Somalia raise livestock) and nomads. This meant that one of the three pillars of famine fighting was totally ignored by the UN, the NGOs and the military.

The three most important recent works on famines, how they develop, and how they move are "Famine that Kills," by Alex Dewaal, "Famine and Food Security," by Bruce Currey, and "Poverty and Famine: an Essay on Entitlement and Deprivation, " by Amartya Sen. Every famine relief worker should have read at least one of these. When Vic Tanner of UNICEF mentioned Sen's work at a coordination meeting in Somalia in 1992, he drew blank stares. How can you fight a famine if you don't know how it works?

Starting with the famine of 1974, there have been probably been more research programs on the nature of famine in Ethiopia than anyplace on earth. One of the ground-breaking studies was called "The Geography of Famine," by Wolde Mariam which looked at how famines start and move geographically through the country. None of the UN "experts" bothered to read his study when the famine of 1984 was developing and millions of dollars were spent sending food to areas where the famine had already hit rather than building up supplies in the areas where it was headed (thereby stopping or containing it). Thus, the UN and the international community spent two years chasing famine around Ethiopia and, if the statistics are correct, had very little impact on bringing it under control. (I've asked my office to send you something from a book I'm writing call Famines and Counter-famine Operations which will illustrate this point).

Other examples abound: We routinely send food into famine areas despite hundreds of studies that show that doing so will increase mortality (the food takes too long to get there and it is a market problem, rarely a food scarcity problem -- even in Somalia in 1992 there was food to buy in the markets in most areas, the poor just didn't have the money to do so).

5) Confusion over mandates:

The problem is really not confusion, it's lack of willingness to take on responsibilities outside the norm. In northern Iraq, the UNHCR refused to work with the people in the mountains because they hadn't crossed the border and therefore weren't "real" refugees. Later they tried to avoid being the lead agency in the security zone for the same reason. All the UN agencies were reluctant to work in the area without the Iraqi government's permission. When the Iraqis at first refused to grant them permission to work there (surprise!) they advised the NGOs to leave and quit working with the US led coalition force. Had the NGOs done so, it would have meant that the alles would have had to stay in the zone to protect the refugees and provide aid, leading to a long and dangerous military confrontation.

6) Competition over leadership roles or lack of willingness to take the lead:

Too many examples to cite. A good description of a typical situation is the Cambodian border in 1979 (little has changed since then). See Quality of Mercy by William Shawcross, Rice, Rivalry and Politics by Roger Mason and Linda Brown. Also see the RPG study of Somalia cited earlier, and my earlier remarks on the UNHCR in northern Iraq. Another good study of the rivalry is the fight over which agency would be the lead agency in Operation Lifeline Sudan in 1988, UNDP or UNICEF.

What could ICG do? Recommend a lead agency where necessary based on an objective assessment of its capabilities on the scene.

8) Ponderous funding methods (especially appeals):

When the UN formulates an appeal, it does it on behalf of the host government. They usually send a team to draft the appeal (the process usually takes 3-4 weeks) and then send it out to UN member countries. The donors may respond to an appeal by giving money directly to the government, by contracting NGOs or other institutions, or by contracting private sector companies to carry out a project on behalf of the government. As mentioned, the formulation of an appeal and procurement of the necessary funds can be a lengthy process. Furthermore, since the appeal is usually projectized (divided into a series of projects that can be funded separately), overall funding may be piecemeal and leave large gaps in the service coverage. It is usually easy to obtain funding for feeding programs, medical interventions and other emergency assistance, but obtaining funds for long-term community improvements and the development aid needed to help the refugees or displaced integrate successfully into their temporary communities is much more difficult.

Another major problem with the appeal process is that, in order to get a government hostile to the displaced to provide assistance, compromises must often be made to provide assistance that meets the government's priorities as well as those of the displaced. But UNDP cannot guarantee that these compromise projects will be funded. Donors will usually respond only to the most urgent needs of the displaced, creating resentment with the government that their priorities were not addressed.

An example of this occurred in Sudan in 1988. Because of disruptions that the conflict had caused to the agricultural cycle in northern Bahr-el-Ghazal, famine conditions developed and hundreds of thousands of people began to flee north. As the people left the South they came under attack from armed Arab militias in the North. As many as 50,000 people may have died in these attacks. The survivors, emaciated and starving, reached areas where NGOs could provide assistance and sanctuary. Just as the world's attention began to focus on this human rights problem, massive floods struck central Sudan, devastating Khartoum and many towns along the Nile. In the formulation of an emergency appeal for Sudan, the UN reached a compromise with the government: an appeal for reconstruction assistance for flood-affected areas would be included with an appeal for emergency aid for the displaced in the South and for the communities to which they were fleeing in the North. The donors, however, chose to concentrate all their assistance on the South and ignored reconstruction needs in Khartoum and the other Nile regions. When it became clear to the Sudanese that Khartoum was being ignored, they began putting obstacles in the way of agencies providing aid in the South. An already-acrimonious relationship between donors and the government grew even worse. This also affected the relationship between UNDP and the government, which accused the UN of failing to honor its commitments.

10) Lack of understanding about what is happening and;

11) Lack of technical knowledge:

Ask any of the key leaders in Somalia if they knew about the famine regime in Somalia; the importance of livestock in the famine equation; the market intervention strategies that were available (other than monetization), or the mechanisms by which famine spreads during conflicts (in Somalia or elsewhere in the region). All of these are the subjects of studies that were carried out by the UN by leading famine researchers in the late 1980s yet I doubt if Phil Johnson, David Bassione, Jonathan Howe, or any of the other UN leaders ever heard of any of them. If they had, their response might have been very different.

13) Poor understanding of how to coordinate

This is one of my pet peeves. It's like the weather, everyone talks about it but no one knows what to do about it. Most settle for endless rounds of boring coordination meetings and a small staff for sending their minutes around. (The whole system usually lapses into disuse after a few weeks.) Effective coordination rests on commonly accepted standards, norms, and practices. While these exist, they are only vaguely known or understood by the relief community. Until everyone is talking a common language and marching to the same tune, coordination can never be effective. Example: In one refugee camp in Thailand in 1979, there were 6 NGOs operating supplementary feeding programs. One gave out rice, one gave out rice and vitamin tablets, two gave out rice and beans, one gave out milk and high protein biscuits, and one (CONCERN Ireland) had an outreach program to find undernourished children, registered them in their program, immunized them, fed them a rich broth made from locally available foods prepared by their mothers, and ran a nutrition education program for the mothers before their children were discharged. This situation has changed, but not much.

ICG would address this situation by promoting the internationally recognized standards and offering training and technical advice to help bring all the agencies up to snuff by offering funding where necessary to help prod them into better performance.

Implementing agencies

1) High staff turnover

Example (on projects): Bosnia, the average length of tour for NGO staff is 90 days, for UNPROFOR the longest any officer other than the force commanders stays in theater is 6 months (the average is 90 days and some, the Dutch and Danes, only stay for 3 weeks!)

Example (re staff longevity): The drop-out rate within the relief system is very high. The problem is there is no career structure for emergency managers and for those who do try to make a career out of it, burnout is very high. Salaries are low, there's no job security, and there are is little recognition for those who stick with it. Because of the turnover, there is little institutional memory so mistakes keep being repeated. In such an environment, training is very costly and has little long term effect.

In this area, ICG can help by providing the "memory," i.e., it can bring the expertise and backlog of experience to where it is needed: in the field. (In the earthquake field, the Earthquake Engineering Research Institute sends a group of experienced engineers to the scene of every earthquake loaded with technical papers, computer programs, and other information to help those on the scene deal with their situation. Its a small, underfinance operation but it has had a tremendous impact on early decision-making.

The food agencies (CARE, CRS, World Vision, etc.) are locked financially into a system (PL 480) that doesn't work and is counted on in most complex emergencies.

There have been many studies of the PL480 program in famines and many have concluded that the system is too ponderous to work in an emergency.(See AID's own evaluations of the 1984-85 famine response to Africa, or Tony Jackson and Deborah Eade, Against the Grain.) There are many criticisms, including: long lead times, deadly paperwork, overly restrictive rules and regulations, operational mechanisms that don't work or which create dependencies. Restrictions on sales, trading and swaps all combine to limit the effectiveness and creative uses of food. But perhaps the most important factor is that the program drives the system. Food logistics is expensive and resource and labor intensive. Small agencies become big ones very quickly. NGOs that distribute PL480 are paid, given trucks and logistics equipment, and AID makes contributions to the overhead costs of the NGO. Thus, PL480 (and the parallel food program of the WFP) consume an inordinate amount of the resources and energy devoted to emergency response -- all to little avail. Why? Because it takes so long for the food to arrive that most of the people who would die do so long before it gets there. If a decision-maker chooses to rely on any of the big food aid programs that utilize surplus commodities rather than choosing market interventions and local purchase, they are condemning 10-20% of the refugees/famine victims to death.

Studies of every recent famine have shown that food was available in-country -- though not always in the immediate food deficit area. Usually, merchants begin hoarding food as a crisis develops -- in conflicts, to keep it from being stolen, in famines, to get higher prices. Even though by local standards the prices are too high for the poor to purchase it, it would usually be cheaper for a donor to buy the hoarded food at the inflated price than to import it from abroad. Yet time and time again, the international system chooses to go the surplus commodity route. Why? 1) Because they don't understand the causes of famine and food scarcity in conflicts; 2) they don't understand how markets work; 3) the "system" (which was built to support the food producers --i.e., the American farmer) rewards NGOs for choosing the PL480 route, 4) they underestimate how long it will take to deliver the food in the quantities that are needed.

Examples: In Ethiopia in 1984-85 the West spent half a billion dollars building up a food logistics system that took 6 months (from November 84 to April 85). Death rates peaked in March 85 and dropped back to normal by May. Throughout the famine, reliable aid agencies (OFXFAM, Christian Aid) were reporting that there was almost 50,000 tons of food available for purchase in the very heart of the famine zone.

In Somalia, CONCERN and SCF were able to purchase food at a time when CARE was struggling to import it. When CONCERN approached AID for money to buy more, it was turned down. (I believe that one of the reasons that looting of aid convoys and warehouses was so widespread in the famine zone is because the merchants were trying to protect their markets from the food aid.)

Another problem is that when imported food finally arrives, it often comes just as the market is beginning to recover. This undercuts the prices that farmers are seeking and causes them losses for a second season. Studies by the Food and Development Institute at the University of Sussex have shown that most land sales after famines occur at this point in the relief cycle, i.e., when the food arrives. The subsistence farmers simply don't have enough resources to pay off their debts and hold out until a third season. Thus, food aid can create a disincentive to production, increase indebtedness, and force small farmers off the land. (See Food First by Francis Moore Lappe.)

There are less damaging ways to use food aid. Examples include: the PiK (payment in kind) approach used here in the US, food coupon/food store approaches, etc., but it takes tremendous pressure on AID to get the bureaucrats to let an NGO experiment with something different.

What would ICG do? First, it would focus on decision-makers to try to get them to understand the dynamics of food emergencies. Second, it could provide small, catalytic grants to begin purchasing food (to demonstrate that food is available), determine the amounts available and develop a forecast of prices. Third, it could develop a food security strategy for the operation that would place use of surplus commodities in a proper perspective. Finally, it could develop operational strategies for using what food aid is imported in such a way that it would be less damaging and lobby AID and WFP to permit NGOs to use the new approaches.

11) Relief agency doctrines and standard projects are designed for tropical areas such as Africa and are not effective in the places where we are likely to see the next major emergencies such as the countries of the former Soviet Union and Eastern Europe where there are extended cold weather periods and little resources for operating relief programs:

Recent examples:

Armenia, where USAID sent lightweight cotton tents for refugees from Nagorno-Karabah.

Bosnia, where UNICEF and a number of NGOs tried to establish a supplementary feeding program -- SFPs are for rehabilitating malnourished children under 5 years of age in famines or extreme food emergencies when adults divert food from small children and women so that working age kids can survive. In Bosnia there is no famine and only adults have lost body weight -- but none radically. If statistics had shown that children were beginning to loose body weight (and there is no evidence that that was happening) the proper strategy would be to increase the general food ration to the whole family. Starting a SFP would likely lead to food inequities in families since the parents would come to rely on the SFP to feed the kids rather than normal meals. Thus, the approach would create the very problem that the program is designed to solve. Why did the agencies propose the program? Because that is what they do in Africa and Asia where the need is a given.

Examples of serious gaps in the relief system:

1. The linkage between early warning and early response is virtually non-existent. The organs that develop the information are not operational and can only send their recommendations around. They have no money to start or stimulate early actions that could change the outcome. Within the aid system, there are insufficient resources to respond because the standby funds are too small. Thus, the agencies have to rely on news stories of a crisis to mobilize. By that time, mortality and morbidity rates are already out of hand.

2. As I've pointed out before, there are no agencies within the UN with a mandate to deal with displaced persons; people who remain inside a conflict area; border crossers who are fleeing as a result of famine, not war; people involved in forced population transfers or exchanges; guest workers who are expelled in mass; people who repatriate into non-government controlled areas (this covers about half of all returnees); people who repatriate outside a formal tripartite agreement with the UNHCR (perhaps as many as 90% of all recent returnees); or minorities who are subjected to human rights abuses within their own country.

3. Within the service delivery system, there is no UN logistics agency, no operational public health agency (WHO is not operational and UNICEF's mandate is limited to women and children); no operational engineering agency -- thus, only limited attention to water and sanitation (by UNICEF and a very small group of NGOs, three to be exact).

Are the catalytic grants sufficient to promote early response?

Yes, in most emergencies all that is needed is to get the agencies moving until other donors can come in. Once a program is under way, it will generate its own ongoing funding. It would probably be rare that a catalytic grant would need to be more than about $100K, and most would be in the $10,000 range. Its a question of where to put it not the amount.

Current examples of donors' frustrations with the UN coordination:

Sarajevo, where the donors tried for a year to get an experienced and respected relief manager to replace the guy who was assigned there.

Somalia, 1989-92 , where the UN had an on again, off again presence, then later after UNITAF when the UN was slow to agree to retake control of the humanitarian operation.

Liberia, 1992-present, where the UN could only marshal a small team through UNICEF to manage humanitarian aid there.

Northern Iraq 1991-present. As stated earlier, the UNHCR didn't want to engage at the outset, the UN couldn't muster a peacekeeping presence to replace the allied troops, UNHCR quit working in the security zone a year after the allied withdrawal and UNICEF has been a poor replacement.

Take a look at any major crisis and look at the after-action reports. UNHCR's mishandling of the Sudan crisis in 1984-5 led to the dismissal of the High Commissioner. How many UN leaders did Somalia have? How many in Afghanistan? We just go from one crisis to another with little change.

Could a better job be done with the same money?

Definitely. (I once offered UNHCR to cut their budget in half and increase their efficiency 4 fold if they would give me half of what they saved. I didn't have any takers.) The waste in the UN system is legendary. The problem is that the decision-makers don't have any field experience and can't recognize when a program is not working or is inefficient.

Larger funding base for NGOs: Why?

Because good planning eliminates overlap and frees up resources for more agencies. Furthermore, good projects attract more funds. Donors invest in success.

Budgets of ICG vs. an NGO:

The ICG budget would represent about 5% of a CARE or CRS annual budget, about half of a World Neighbors or Mennonite Central Committee's annual budget, about one third of an agency like World Concern. At $12 million a year, I would guess that ICG would be in the lower 10% of the NGO range.

Lack of knowledge:

I believe that is covered above. Another example is the current situation in Bosnia regarding repatriation. There are about 2,500 people a month repatriating to Bosnia and the government is asking for help in reintegrating them. The UNHCR refuses saying that they don't believe that it's safe enough for people to come back. The question of spontaneous returns has been studied thoroughly and all the studies show that it occurs in every situation and that people make choices according to many factors the least of which is UN assistance. By not helping them to return or reintegrate, the UN puts the burden on the relief system. (Before the NATO security zone was established in February, the people returning to Sarajevo were forced to run across the airport where they were shot at by snipers from the Serb side, thus the UN policy resulted in deaths.)

Reasons why countries are seen as potential crisis points:

Indonesia: Tensions between Indonesians and ethnic Chinese,

Ukraine: Because of tensions between Russians and Ukrainians, separatist aspirations of the Crimea,

Kenya: Tribal conflicts exacerbated by the Moi government and an influx of arms from Somalia,

Tanzania: Problems between Christian and Animists vs. Muslims on the coast,

Ghana: Tribal separatist movement in north,

Zaire: Long standing tribal tensions, separatist aspirations of eastern provinces, corruption of Mobutu's government

Southern Philippines: Muslim separatists.

Planning limited to mandates:

Best current example is Bosnia. UNHCR sees itself as only an emergency agency therefore it doesn't work on rehabilitation of infrastructure, rehabilitation of agriculture (which would increase food production and lower the need for importing food); or reconstruction of communities. To handle the latter in Sarajevo and Mostar, the UN had to appoint special reconstruction coordinators. [Their offices are made up of people who have never been engaged in war reconstruction (for the first 3 months they didn't even have any city planners!) and so far they've just produced a list of projects for yet another appeal.]

Another example is the case of refugee camps in the middle of a famine zone. On both sides of Sudan in 1985, thousands of refugees came into the country from Ethiopia and Chad and were helped by the UNHCR. While the UNHCR food convoys passed through drought and famine affected areas on the way to both borders, they could not give any of the food to the destitute villagers along the way since UNHCR didn't have a mandate to work inside Sudan. The same problem existed recently in drought affected areas of Kenya and Djibouti when the Somali refugees came in.

In Zaire now, there is a big debate about who is responsible for protecting the villagers against cholera and other diarrheal diseases. UNHCR says it's not their mandate, UNICEF says it doesn't have the necessary supplies, ....

In Sri Lanka, UNHCR was willing to give the refugees who returned from India assistance but not the displaced returning from other areas inside Sri Lanka.

Troops landing in Mogadishu causing additional problems:

There were several problems. The first relates to migration, one of the principal consequences (and problems) in famines and conflicts. The famine zone was not in Mog, it was 150 miles northwest. When the troops landed in Mog, they began contracting for all sorts of services and the soldiers and Marines began spending money. It has been estimated by the military that they pumped several million dollars a day directly into the capital's economy and no telling how much more indirectly. This created a giant magnet for people desperate for work and money and immediately began to draw people out of the countryside and into the capital. This had a number of sequential effects: 1) First, it overloaded the already overcrowded feeding centers in Mogadishu. 2) That forced the aid agencies to divert food that was bound for the heart of the famine zone to the city. 3) That in turn further increased migration from the rural areas. 4) The movement from the rural areas meant that people were leaving the land at the planting season. Had the troops gone immediately to the heart of the famine zone, they would have been able to stabilize the situation there and draw many people out of the capital and back onto the land.

The second problem relates to the security situation. When the people were drawn into the city, they became dependent on Aidid and the other warlords for food handouts (Aidid fed four times as many people as the UN in Mogadishu -- largely with stolen food aid), jobs, and protection. Thus, at first the presence of troops built up his power base. Then, there was a reverse affect. As more food was brought in by the UN, it began to undercut Aidid's power and his means of controlling the population. He virtually had to take it from the relief agencies or drive the military out. Had the Marines gone to the rural areas first and succeeded in drawing

the people out of the city, they would have reduced his authority and undercut his power.

The first rule in peacekeeping is "stay out of hostile cities." A small force is very vulnerable in a built-up urban area; there are thousands of places for snipers to hide and every corner is a potential ambush. The only way to safely flush a sniper out of a house is to destroy the house and since few snipers shoot from their own houses, all the peacekeeping force does is piss off the local people when the soldiers level their house. It's a no win situation. Thus, when things began to go bad, there were not enough troops to control the situation, the US could not use its force multipliers effectively, and the troops were soon hostages inside the embassy compound. [Ask Mort to show you the papers I wrote in Oct/Nov.1992 on these issues.]

What ICG could do about slow deployment, poor unit cohesion, etc.?

1. Slow deployment: ICG could lobby for faster deployment and present transport options to the donors. It could also provide funding to jump start emergency response.

2. Inadequate logistics support: ICG could lobby major defense establishments to provide logistical support at an early date and its logistics staff would help in developing a logistics concept. It could also go to the large donors (private as well as governments) with plans and proposals to get early funding commitments.

3. Poor unit cohesion: This would require developing new management models for peacekeeping operations. Difficult but not impossible.

4. Fractious relations between the UN and NGOs: Realistically, little can be done. However, a good plan and sound tactical strategies supported by ICG could go a long way in helping to get everyone moving in the same direction.

5. Rules of engagement that are misapplied, cumbersome or inappropriate to local circumstances: This will require an ICG lobbying effort, backed up by reasoned arguments with lots of evidence. No one looks at these matters now. It will be a long term problem that will have to be tackled as a long term effort.

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