The Carter Center has worked to advance conflict resolution and human rights during tumultuous times in Somalia.
The Carter Center's Conflict Resolution Program monitored developments in Somalia during the U.N. troop presence there that began in 1992. In spring and summer of 1993, former U.S. President Jimmy Carter quietly urged the United Nations to return to its original humanitarian mission in Somalia rather than continue to involve itself in the restoration of law and order. When military action by U.N. peacekeepers resulted in the deaths of dozens of Somali citizens, he issued a public statement denouncing those actions.
In addition, local faction leader Gen. Mohamed Farah Aidid wrote to President Carter asking him to act as a mediator to resolve a confrontation Aidid was having with U.N. peacekeeping forces. President Carter declined a mediation role and instead passed along to U.N. officials Aidid's additional request for an independent commission to investigate violence in Mogadishu in which Aidid was implicated, an idea President Carter endorsed. In October 1993, President Carter also issued a public statement urging the release of Michael Durant, a U.S. Army helicopter pilot being held hostage by Aidid, and a week later, Durant was released.
In 1988, President Carter contacted Somalia President Mohamed Siad Barre requesting commutation for eight political prisoners sentenced to death for belonging to a "subversive organization." The organization was actually a community group. In January 1989, President Siad Barre arranged for a blanket amnesty for all political prisoners, which expedited the prisoners' release.
The Carter Center Human Rights Program works to support human rights defenders, strengthen international human rights systems, and advance human rights at the grassroots. President Carter personally has helped secure the release of thousands of political prisoners and others whose rights have been violated.
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Size: 637,657 square kilometers
Life expectancy: 52 years
Ethnic groups: Somali, Bantu and other non-Somali (including Arabs)
Religions: Sunni Muslim (Islam) (official, according to the Transitional Federal Charter)
Languages: Somali (official), Arabic (official, according to the Transitional Federal Charter), Italian, English
Source: U.S. Central Intelligence Agency World Factbook 2016