United Nations Operations in Somalia II (UNOSOM II) - CONSORT

International Information

International Operation Name: United Nations Operations in Somalia II (UNOSOM II)

International Mission Name: United Nations Operations in Somalia II (UNOSOM II)

Mandating Organization:

United Nations Security Council Resolution 814, 26 March 1993 (Chapter VII)

United Nations Security Council Resolution 837, 6 June 1993

United Nations Security Council Resolution 897, 4 February 1994

Region Name: Africa

Location: Somalia

Mission Date: 26 March 1993 - 31 March 1995

Mission Mandate: In 1991, Siad Barré was overthrown as president of Somalia by a grouping of clan-based factions. In the resulting chaos, nearly one million Somalis became refugees and over five million faced starvation. Efforts by the United Nations and non-governmental agencies to provide humanitarian aid were met by thievery and looting. The United Nations Security Council authorized the United Nations Operation in Somalia (UNOSOM I) in April 1992; however, with a Chapter VI mandate and inadequate strength, the UNOSOM forces could not counter and control the bandits.

In November 1992 the United States offered to lead an operation to restore order and ensure the delivery of humanitarian supplies. The Security Council accepted the offer and, in Resolution 794 of 3 December, it approved the creation of the Unified Task Force (UNITAF). UNITAF forces arrived in Somalia on 9 December. They quickly restored order, and aid flowed again. Fourteen Somali factions agreed on a cease-fire and pledged to hand over their weapons to UNITAF.

UNITAF was only organized as a temporary expedient. The Secretary-General therefore planned a follow-on operation to UNOSOM I and to UNITAF. This would be a Chapter VII operation, designed to cover the entire country, whereas UNITAF’s activity was limited primarily to the southern half. The Security Council passed Resolution 814 on 26 March 1993, thus creating the United Nations Operation in Somalia II (UNOSOM II). Its basic mandate was to maintain order by disarming the Somali factions, using force to preserve the peace, assisting in the flow of humanitarian aid and the operation of relief agencies, and assisting in the return of refugees and displaced persons.

UNOSOM II did not come into effect immediately. UNOSOM I was terminated on 30 April 1993, while a transition was required before UNOSOM II could take over the responsibilities from UNITAF. The date of transfer was set as 4 May, with most UNITAF forces making the transition to UNOSOM II.

As this was being arranged, a national reconciliation conference was held in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, with 15 Somali political movements. With the agreement, signed on 27 March, all 15 parties indicated their intention to comply with the cease-fire of January 1993, to hand over their weapons to UNITAF and UNOSOM II, and to work together to create governments at national, regional and local levels.

Soon thereafter, however, it was clear that the faction led by “General” Muhamad Faarah Aideed would renege on its commitments. When UNOSOM II forces attempted to remove some weapons from an Aideed compound on 5 June, his forces attacked Pakistani UNOSOM II personnel, killing twenty-five and injuring fifty-four, with another ten reported missing. The victims were horribly mutilated and their corpses subjected to degrading treatment. Later, his militias would use women and children as human shields when attacking UNOSOM II forces and incite them to hurl rocks, grenades, and Molotov cocktails at the UN troops. 

The UN responded with the Security Council resolving that UN forces could use all necessary force to punish those responsible for the attacks (Resolution 837, 6 June 1993). As a result, UNOSOM II forces began to attack Aideed compounds, storage sites, and clandestine facilities in air and ground operations on 12 June. UNOSOM II was also directed to detain Aideed – a clear indication of the Chapter VII nature of the operation. 

The UNOSOM offensive was not the deterrent some hoped for. UN forces continued to be attacked by any number of the Somali factions in Mogadishu (and not just Aideed’s militias), and although none of these attacks were individually costly, the cumulative casualty total became a matter of concern. On 3 October US Army Rangers launched an attack to capture key Aideed aides suspected of planning and leading both the 5 June attack on the Pakistanis and several (if not all) of the subsequent attacks on UNOSOM II personnel. The Rangers captured twenty-four such suspects, but in the effort to extricate themselves and their captives they came under intense attack. One American helicopter was shot down, and in the ensuing battle, eighteen US soldiers lost their lives before being rescued by Pakistani troops. As in other incidents, the American dead were subjected to degrading acts by the Somali militias, this time caught on film and broadcast by most television networks. 

That proved to be the critical moment in Somalia for the international community. Although UNOSOM II’s humanitarian efforts were bearing fruit – refugees had begun to return, hospitals were operating again, police were beginning to function, and the infrastructure was slowly being restored – the sheer brutality of their opponents began to influence opinion in some of the contributing countries. Belgium, France, and the United States all indicated that they would withdraw their contingents, in effect removing the security umbrella that had permitted UNOSOM II to succeed to the extent that it had. The UN desperately tried to get the security situation back on track, but until that was achieved UNOSOM II’s operations were curtailed, the emphasis now being placed on consolidating its position in a few locations and thereby at least maintaining a presence. 

By the end of October 1994, with the level of violence still escalating, a “few” locations had been reduced to three. Facing the inevitable – as unpalatable as that might be – a Security Council mission that visited Somalia late that month recognized that UNOSOM II had failed. Indeed, since no one requested an extension of its mandate beyond 31 March 1995, repatriation of the various national contingents actually began in December 1994, and the last UNOSOM II personnel left Somalia on 3 March 1995, almost a month early. By then, the Somali factions in Mogadishu had, at least for the moment, begun to reconcile, having arrived at a power-sharing agreement on 19 February. But the peace did not last. 

UNOSOM II was withdrawn from Somalia in early March 1995, while the mandate lapsed at the end of the month.

Canadian Forces (CF) Information (CONSORT)


Date: 26 March 1993 - 30 April 1994

CF Mission/Operation Notes: Canadians attached to UNOSOM II headquarters, however, served as part of Operation CONSORT. Canadian operations in Somalia however were not terminated with the departure Op DELIVERANCE personnel on 5 July 1993, as there were still Canadians serving at UNOSOM II headquarters under Operation CONSORT. Beginning with the stand-up of UNOSOM II in March 1993, Canada provided five personnel at a time – officers and non-commissioned members - to the UNOSOM II headquarters, three of whom operated with the UNOSOM civilian headquarters. By August 1993, Op CONSORT had increased to nine personnel, although this number was later reduced to seven at the time of Canada’s withdrawal from UNOSOM II. 

In March 1994, Canada indicated to the UN that these seven would be withdrawn by 30 April and not replaced. Three of the officers were sent to the United Nations Observer Mission for Rwanda, where they assisted Brigadier-General Roméo Dallaire in expanding and reorganizing that mission when the genocide and civil war started in that country. When the remaining four left for home, CF participation in Op CONSORT and UNOSOM II had come to an end. 

Overall, over 1500 Canadian Forces personnel participated in UNOSOM II. The majority were only deployed in the initial part of the operation, when UNITAF transitioned to UNOSOM II as part of Op DELIVERANCE. Fewer than twenty participated in Op CONSORT.


Description: Pte. Jason Vienneau from the 48th Highlanders (Toronto) attached to 2 CDO Cdn. AB Reg't BG handing out Canada flag pins to some Somalian children.

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