The Somali environment--both human and ecological--has deteriorated since the collapse of the state in early 1991. The consequent outbreak of intra- and interclan conflicts engulfed the peninsula in a catastrophic civil war that had claimed, by a conservative estimate, more than 200,000 Somali lives by early 1992. The cities of Mogadishu and Hargeysa had been reduced to rubble, with government buildings and homes looted or razed by gangs armed with assault rifles. Even telephone wires had been dug up, stolen, and exported for sale to the United Arab Emirates.
In the fields of education and health, a sharp decline occurred and only minimal services continued to exist. Because of the destruction of schools and supporting services, a whole generation of Somalis faced the prospect of a return to illiteracy. Many people who had fled to the cities initially because of the civil war sought refuge in camps elsewhere, often refugee camps outside Somalia. More than one year of civil war had wiped out most of the intellectual and material progress of the preceding thirty years. In short, Somali society had retrogressed to a collection of warring clans reminiscent of preindustrial times.
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