Terrorism, mismanagement, hunger - Somalia's crisis
By Carola Frentzen Jul 27, 2011, 15:23 GMT
Addis Ababa/Mogadishu - There have been plenty of hunger crises in recent decades. But it is no coincidence that the current emergency situation has hit civil war-stricken Somalia especially hard.
Political upheaval, internal revolutions and total governmental mismanagement have caused at least in part such disasters. The radical Islamic Al-Shabaab militia is also considered a contributing factor for the current emergency in Somalia - a country whose internal condition only rarely comes to the attention of the world community.
The issue, however, has been a reoccurring pattern. When the disturbing pictures of dying children in Ethiopia appeared on television screens in 1984, the war between Communist dictator Mengistu Haile Mariam and rebel groups had reached its peak. Similar to what is going on today in many parts of Somalia, a reign of terror covered Somalia and thousands of political opponents were brutally murdered. The last major food crisis in Somalia came in 1992 when the country was sliding into anarchy following the fall of dictator Siad Barre.
And today? Al-Shabaab has been trying to build an Islamic state in the southern part of the country for years, incessantly fighting the transitional government in Mogadishu with the group not at all taking into consideration the people of the country. And if the rains don't come - as is recently the case - then the nomadic shepherds have no choice but to lead their animals to other parts of the country. But moving around such a shattered country is not only dangerous, it's nearly impossible.
On top of that, international aid has for years been withheld from the especially hard-hit regions by Al-Shabaab, which claims Western organizations are using aid for political purposes. Doctors without Borders says that 'fighting, administrative hurdles and political restrictions' keep them from bringing necessary assistance.
Instead of delivering aid, the militia uses its power to spread terror and fear. The Society for Threatened Peoples (STP) reported that rebels have publicly beheaded shepherds who simply did not want to hand over their few surviving animals.
'If the international community does not act more committedly for peace in the embattled country then tens of thousands of Somalis will die in the next six months,' said STP Africa speaker Ulrich Delius. 'It is not enough to help fight hunger in order to stop widespread death in Somalia.'
It is hardly a surprise that the United Nations recently declared a famine in two Al-Shabaab-controlled regions in southern Somalia - Bakool and Lower Shabell.
In a recent report, Amnesty International stated how especially children and young people suffer from Al-Shabab rebels' arbitrary violence. Those who are not lost to hunger face the likelihood of being recruited as child soldiers, suicide bombers or - in the case of girls - unwilling brides to Al-Shabaab fighters.
Like a book with seven seals, Somalia's story and its future is largely unknown. Only one thing is certain. Unless something is done soon, countless people will die when this current chapter ends.