By August of 1992, effects of the Somali famine had reached disastrous proportions. UN envoys estimated that 25% of all Somalis (about 1.5 million people) would likely die of starvation. Some experts thought the toll would be even higher. By September of that year, relief organizations reported that 25% of Somali children under five years old had already died. But it wasn't just the famine that was killing people.
Food supplies, sent to Somalia from all over the world, were not effectively distributed to the needy. Central government in the country had collapsed on January 27, 1991 when Siad Barre's regime was toppled by rebels. Since the country's infrastructure had ceased to operate even before the end of Barre's rule, no Somali governmental agencies could process food distribution.
Fueling the growing anarchy, bandits were armed. Weapons supplied by the Soviet Union, when Siad Barre had tried to turn Somalia into a socialist state, were still plentiful. So were weapons the United States had provided as part of its $403 million military aid package to Barre's opposition. Mounting automatic weapons on top of vehicles, armed groups created "technicals" which they could use to shoot their opposition.
U.S. military, dispatched to Somalia as part of a relief mission called Operation Restore Hope - while George H.W. Bush was president - first arrived in country on December 9, 1992. Marine-Corps General Joseph P. Hoar, commander in chief of the American Central Command, announced on December 14th that U.S. forces would NOT disarm Somalis. His reasoning? Local people had to resolve this political issue themselves.
Plans change, however. Even UN relief trucks were caught in the crossfire of opposing militia groups. By early January, U.S. forces were pursuing "technicals" and raiding arms depots. Their mission was to safeguard operations and protect both Somali civilians and the peacekeeping military. Because personnel from other countries had joined Operation Restore Hope, some U.S. troops were able to pull out of Somalia in mid-January, 1993.
In the summer, the killing of American soldiers started.