This working paper was prepared for the workshop on "Aid and Humanitarian Assistance in Africa" in Arusha, 27-29 June, 1998, with financial support from the Norwegian Ministry of Foreign Affairs. It is based on a series of interviews with aid agencies operating in Somalia after the crisis of 1992-1993. It tries to map out how different agencies reacted in a state-less society, which efforts they made to help re-build local administrative and political structures, which local partners they worked with, how they dealt with security issues, and how they assessed the prospects for the future of Somalia. The report first gives a critical overview over the problems and the different positions held on these issues, before giving a short overview over the responses of the different agencies. The central observation of the report is the dilemma faced by agencies which want to give humanitarian aid to the affected people without compromising the efforts of the local population to form new local structures, and without contributing to a continuation of internal warfare. It shows that agencies find different solutions to these problems, and act on different assumptions and hence with different objectives - though towards a common goal.
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