Ambassador Bessler travelled to Kenya and Somalia from7 to 14 January 2012 and met people affected by the crisis, government representatives, partners of Swiss Humanitarian Aid and members of the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation, which has been providing aid in this region since the 1990s.
The purpose of Bessler's mission: to gain an impression of the needs of the afflicted population of the Horn of Africa, to strengthen Swiss humanitarian aid on the ground and to discuss the necessary aid measures with partner organisations.
Precarious security situation
His trip took him first to Mogadishu, the capital of Somalia, where a civil war has been going on for over two decades. Since the summer of 2011, the town has been controlled by soldiers of the African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM) and is governed by the Somalia transitional government. AMISOM troops defuse six bombs a day on average in the capital. Mogadishu has recently also become a target for suicide bombers.
In Mogadishu alone and in the neighbouring Afgoye district, over 400,000 internally displaced persons (IDPs) are living in cramped conditions. As there is no electricity and therefore no light, many women are subjected to sexual violence when darkness falls. Distress, poverty, serious security problems and the absence of state structures characterise this region, which is regularly affected by floods and by droughts. There are atotal of 1.5 million IDPs living in Somalia. On top of this, there are 520,000 Somali refugees in Kenya and 184,000 in Ethiopia.