The Somalia Affair Natalie Giasson
Background • In 1992, following the collapse of Siad Barre’s Marxist government, Somalia was in the middle of famine and civil war • Armed gangs frequently stole relief supplies in exchange for the population’s loyalty • As a result, the United Nations requested armed peacekeepers to help with relief operations
Action • In the summer of 1992, Brian Mulroney would commit Canada to the United Nations Operation in Somalia I (UNOSOM I) • It was decided that the Canadian Airborne Regiment (CAR) be sent overseas • Some military leaders were concerned with the reoccurring discipline problems within the Regiment and the suspected white supremacist activity
Results • Upon landing, troops were given orders allowing soldiers to shoot thieves and saboteurs under certain conditions • Violence ensued as a result • On January 2, Canadian forces seized an AK-47 from a local Somali who returned the following day with a machete to threaten the troops to give him back his gun; a warning shot was fired and ricocheted, hitting him in the foot. He left, refusing medical care. • On January 29, suspected bandits were found congregating on a roadway and as Canadian forces approached them, they began to flee. Warning shots were fired into the air to halt them, leading to a retaliatory shot from a Somali, and returned fire from the Canadian troops. • On February 10, they fired on a crowd approaching a Red Cross distribution centre • On February 17, a demonstration of 50-300 Somalis crowded together on the bailey bridge over the Shebelle River, and when some began throwing rocks at the Canadian Forces, soldiers fired two shotgun blasts, killing one Somali and injuring two others.
Death of Shidane Arone • March 16, 1993 Captain Michael Sox found Shidane Abukar Arone hiding in a portable toilet in an abandoned American base across from the Canadian base and, believing he was attempting to sneak into the Canadian base to steal supplies, detained him • While imprisoned, Arone was beaten, burned, and mutilated until he died
Results • The torture was spread through the media and as a result, public trust in the Canadian Forces and recruitment became more difficult • Since the events in Somalia, Canada has become fare less ready to participate in UN Peacekeeping efforts
Results • Long term effects on the Forces included the adoption of sensitivity training, including SHARP (Standard for Harassment and Racism Prevention) training • Became mandatory for every single member of the Forces • Accompanied by a declaration of "zero tolerance" on racism and harassment of any kind