Aid delivery remains a central obstacle in Somalia's famine
Somalia specialist Ken Menkhaus told the Enough Project that the international community needs to pressure Al Shabab and the Somali government to open up aid delivery routes.
In the damp, gray dawn in this remote Somali bush town, 25,000 men, women and children, their rib cages protruding, their eyes listless, shuffled with their last bit of strength today toward outdoor kitchens for a scoop of food. Hundreds, too feeble to eat, died while they waited. […]Skip to next paragraph
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“Here is hell,” said Mr. [Geoff] Loane [of the Red Cross], who worked in Ethiopia during the 1984-85 famine. “I thought I would never see Ethiopia again, and I didn’t think we would allow it to happen again.”
But Mr. Loane made that exasperated remark to The New York Times in 1992. And it has happened again.
A Google search for “Somalia famine” turns up a host of articles from the past 20 years about recurring periods of drought and devastation unfolding in the Horn of Africa. They have taken place with such frequency and little variation in details that it is a wonder how often disaster relief is discussed with little or no reference to root causes.
But the epic proportions of the 2011 Somalia famine should force a conversation, argues longtime Somalia specialist Ken Menkhaus, beginning with a focus on how the political actors largely responsible for the country’s dysfunction are now blocking aid delivery as well.
“The international response to date has been shockingly inadequate not just because funds for humanitarian aid have fallen short, but because of the absence of political will to take bold diplomatic action to remove impediments to the delivery of aid,” Menkhaus wrote in a paper published by the Enough Project yesterday.
The 2011 Somalia famine – the worst in 60 years – currently threatens three-quarters of a million people. Nearly half of the country’s population needs emergency assistance. The region is inherently more prone to drought than almost anywhere else in the world, but war and the absence of a functioning government has shredded Somalis’ ability to cope and survive, Menkhaus told Enough in an interview last month.