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Glossary: Operation Restore Hope (Somalia, 1993-1994)


Definition: Operation Restore Hope was the operative name of the United States-led military and humanitarian intervention in Somalia in December 1993 to halt a famine that had claimed the lives of 500,000 people by then.

United Nations Security Council Resolution 794, adopted on Dec. 3, 1992, authorized the United States to lead a multi-national force into Somalia "to use all necessary means to establish a secure environment for humanitarian relief operations in Somalia as soon as possible." U.S. Marines landed on the beaches of Mogadishu, the Somali capital, on Dec. 9.

At its peak, Operation Restore Hope involved some 30,000 American soldiers and 10,000 soldiers from 24 other nations. By March 1993, mass starvation in Somalia was significantly reduced. Operation Restore Hope ended on May 4, 1993, when the United Nations assumed control of the humanitarian mission from American command.

American involvement did not end then. It was replaced with Operation Continue Hope, designed to give protection to United Nations efforts in Somalia. But having been conceived almost exclusively as a humanitarian operation, Operation Continue Hope did not take enough into account the political situation on the ground in Mogadishu, which progressively deteriorated and enmeshed American forces in guerrilla attacks led by General Mohamed Farrah Aidid, the Somali leader and warlord. Clashes culminated in the downing of two U.S. Black Hawk helicopters on Oct. 3-4, 1993. Eighteen American soldiers were killed and 73 wounded, as well as hundreds of Somali fighters (an exact figure was never confirmed). Most American forces had withdrawn by March 1994, but the last remaining U.S. personnel weren't withdrawn until a year later.

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