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Letter to Congressional Leaders on the Situation in Somalia

December 10, 1992

Dear Mr. Speaker: (Dear Mr. President:)

Beginning in January of this year with the adoption of U.N. Security Council Resolution 733, the United Nations has been actively addressing the humanitarian crisis in Somalia. The United States has been assisting the U.N. effort to deal with a human catastrophe. Over 300,000 Somalis have died of starvation. Five times that number remain at risk, beyond the reach of international relief efforts in large part because of the security situation. As a result, voluntary relief organizations from the United States and other countries have appealed for assistance from outside security forces.

On November 29, 1992, the Secretary General of the United Nations reported to the Security Council that the deteriorating security conditions in Somalia had severely disrupted international relief efforts and that an immediate military operation under U.N. authority was urgently required. On December 3, the Security Council adopted Resolution 794, which determined that the situation in Somalia constituted a threat to international peace and security, and, invoking Chapter VII of the U.N. Charter, authorized Member States to use all necessary means to establish a secure environment for humanitarian relief operations in Somalia. In my judgment, the deployment of U.S. Armed Forces under U.S. command to Somalia as part of this multilateral response to the Resolution is necessary to address a major humanitarian calamity, avert related threats to international peace and security, and protect the safety of Americans and others engaged in relief operations.

In the evening, Eastern Standard Time, on December 8, 1992, U.S. Armed Forces entered Somalia to secure the airfield and port facility of Mogadishu. Other elements of the U.S. Armed Forces and the Armed Forces of other Members of the United Nations are being introduced into Somalia to achieve the objectives of U.N. Security Council Resolution 794. No organized resistance has been encountered to date.

U.S. Armed Forces will remain in Somalia only as long as necessary to establish a secure environment for humanitarian relief operations and will then turn over the responsibility of maintaining this environment to a U.N. peacekeeping force assigned to Somalia. Over 15 nations have already offered to deploy troops. While it is not possible to estimate precisely how long the transfer of responsibility may take, we believe that prolonged operations will not be necessary.

We do not intend that U.S. Armed Forces deployed to Somalia become involved in hostilities. Nonetheless, these forces are equipped and ready to take such measures as may be needed to accomplish their humanitarian mission and defend themselves, if necessary; they also will have the support of any additional U.S. Armed Forces necessary to ensure their safety and the accomplishment of their mission.

I have taken these actions pursuant to my constitutional authority to conduct our foreign relations and as Commander in Chief and Chief Executive, and in accordance with applicable treaties and laws. In doing so, I have taken into account the views expressed in H. Con. Res. 370, S. Con. Res. 132, and the Horn of Africa Recovery and Food Security Act, Public Law 102 - 274, on the urgent need for action in Somalia.

I am providing this report in accordance with my desire that Congress be fully informed and consistent with the War Powers Resolution. I look forward to cooperating with Congress in the effort to relieve human suffering and to restore peace and stability to the region.


George Bush

Note: Identical letters were sent to Thomas S. Foley, Speaker of the House of Representatives, and Robert C. Byrd, President pro tempore of the Senate.

George Bush, Letter to Congressional Leaders on the Situation in Somalia Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project

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