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Puntland Government Delivers Food and Water
New Marine Force Provides Security and Vehicles For Drought Relief
By ABDIFITAH IBRAHIM 03/31/2011
A convoy of 40 trucks deliver water to remote regions in Puntland
©Somalia Report
A convoy of 40 trucks deliver water to remote regions in Puntland
According to official sources, 800 tons of food and 70,000 liters of water were delivered without cost by the Government of Puntland by the Puntland Marine Force. Puntland's President Farole met the 40 vehicle convoy as they headed out, and thanked the United Arab Emirates (UAE) for their donation to the people of Somalia. Somalia Report was invited to document and witness the delivery of aid and can confirm that despite some arguments and local attempts to steer control the massive shipment all water and food was delivered to the intended recipients.

The Puntland government also convened a commission headed by the Minister of Justice, Religion and Rehabilitation Affairs to oversee the distribution of aid. An account was created and the Puntland government deposited $200,000 towards relief efforts.

The Marine Force modified a number of their Toyota Land Cruiser trucks to carry water tanks and a local water tanker was hired. The trucks were used to filled up civic water reservoirs that supply people and livestock. The flour, dates, rice and cooking oil were sent by dhow from UAE to Bosaso were transferred to large trucks destined for regional distribution warehouses as far south as Galkayo.

Food distribution in Somalia even by large NGO's and entities like the UN and WFP has been hampered by security, resources and the basic logistics chain required to assure a donor that his contribution will end up in the hands of the ultimate needy person or region. President Farole called upon all Somalis including the diaspora to help one another to solve their own problems. The President had made an urgent call for help, saying, "My people are dying" while pointing out that two people died of dehydration on the day of the convoy delivery.

Water reservoirs for people and livestock, filled by trucks, are empty
©Somalia Report
Water reservoirs for people and livestock, filled by trucks, are empty

The training of the Puntland Marine Force was stalled by a UN employee from Nairobi who accused them of breaking the arms embargo which led to the illegal detention of two well known journalists in Hargesia and the theft of the Puntland government equipment by Somaliland officials. Others insisted the Marine Force would be used to attack neighboring Somaliland. It appears that this was all malicious speculation as the people along the route cheered the Marines during their first mission and thanked them for delivering much needed aid.

The event was not without problems. Some people were angry that they were not given water while some even demanded that as elders, they should be in charge of distributing the overloaded lorries of food sacs and boxes. Local Puntland officials with the convoy smoothed out these minor disagreements. In one humorous event a local man refused water replenishment, insisting that the shallow brackish water belonged to his family and if the government refilled his reservoir then everyone in the community would take his water.

Hopefully the controversy surrounding the Marine Force is over now as the semi-autonomous region of Puntland employs the Marines for much needed security and logistics support to humanitarian efforts. Some of the recent projects also include inspecting and repairing the critical well pumps, inspecting water towers and doing much needed repairs to wells.

Locals use every liter of water the truck delivers
©Somalia Report
Locals use every liter of water the truck delivers

The armed and disciplined Somali Marines were deployed in their distinctive blue uniforms and rode aboard new pickup trucks. The Marines were used to provide security and employ their new vehicles to make sure the food and water delivery went smoothly. According to the mentors who assisted in the delivery, the initial training phase of Saracen International has now ended and the Marines will be fully under the command of the Puntland government. Their first mission was chosen to provide support for food and water delivery and it is expected this will continue to be their mission.

As the day wore on the convoy dispensed its precious water and pushed deep into the southern limits of Puntland refilling their water supplies at a well south of Burtinle. As the wind howled and desert sand blasted the tired Marines, they continued to refill their trucks with precious water from a recently repaired pump and then motivated by the observed need and gratitude of their own people, the Puntland Marines continued to work through the night.

By dawn the next day as the Marines finally returned home to Bosaso, they were covered in dust, sore, hungry and exhausted. A total of 4,810 kilometers were logged and no violent or accidental incidents were experienced.

A thirsty camel can drink up to 200 liters in a day
©Somalia Report
A thirsty camel can drink up to 200 liters in a day