Are politics to blame for the deaths of 30,000 children in Somalia?

Posted on | oktober 12, 2011 | No Comments

In July, the UN declared a famine in two regions of Southern Somalia, the first such announcement in the region since the infamous 1984 famine in Ethiopia. Somalia continues to find itself gripped tightly by starvation; the famine has claimed the lives of some 30,000 children in the last 3 months alone. More than 12 million people are still at risk of losing their lives to hunger.  In Somalia, it is women and children who bear the brunt of the famine. Children are susceptible to malnutrition that decreases their ability to fight off disease, while women are unable to access the services they need, while they carry the responsibility of caring for their families.

Why is Somalia plagued by such an extensive and severe famine?
Somalia’s plight, part of larger famine throughout much of the Horn of Africa, is not simply the result of drought or poor harvest.  The true cause of the famine is the combination of a number of many complex variables.  As seen in Kenya and Ethiopia, sever famines can be prevented in times of extreme drought, but it takes the will of the government and international community. Unfortunately, the strategies necessary to sustainably end famine are not easy, especially in a country like Somalia.  In Somalia, drought was the spark that lit the fire, however, the fuel that feeds the current troubles is that which has impacted so many historical famines: politics!  First of all, many aid organizations were issuing alerts long before the international community took notice.  Many believe famine in Somalia is largely a political creation, due to factions that have actively prevented food and other aid from reaching drought victims. The famine is centered in Southern Somalia, where a failing government sits idly by, yet parts of the country are controlled by al-Shabaab, a terrorist group with ties to al-Qa‘ida. The problem has been compounded as Kenya has been refusing to let people cross into northern Kenya to seek safety and aid.

What can you do?
Fighting famine as an individual seems impossible, and while scouring the cupboards for cans of soup and dry goods isn’t going to do anything for the children of Somalia, you can still make a lasting impact.  Right now what we need is your voice and One.org has recently released a thought provoking video, in response to what they call an “obscenity.”  The video is joined by a petition directed at Congress asking them to, “help keep our commitment to farmers in developing countries by fully funding Feed the Future- a life-changing USAID initiative that is investing in long-term agricultural development and could help put an end to famine for good.”   The main objective of the program is to make sustainable investments in areas where success has been proven, such as early warning systems, irrigation, drought resistant seeds, and peace and security.

You can also donate to organizations who are directly working on the famine relief across the Horn of Africa such as: UNICEF, World Vision, International Rescue Committee, InternAction and Food for the Hungry

AUTHOR: Cassandra Clifford
URL: www.bridgetofreedomfoundation.org and http://children.foreignpolicyblogs.com
E-MAIL: Cassandra [at] btff.org

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