Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Meanwhile, in Somalia...

The suffering in Somalia is heart-wrenching.

That’s if you’re able to find a way to learn about what’s happening there, of course.

The American media doesn’t make it easy. They’d rather report on a convicted ax murderer in Delaware being executed for his crimes or Hustler’s Larry Flint offering Casey Anthony $500,000 to pose nude in his magazine or an unstable astronaut who attacked her romantic rival being forced out of the U.S. Navy.

Meanwhile, the United Nations first sounded the alarm months ago about a severe drought in the Horn of Africa, where an estimated 10 million human beings need help. According to the Washington Post, the crisis has been aggravated by civil strife, the lowest rainfall rates in 50 years and sharp increases in food prices.

Famine in parts of southern Somalia has killed tens of thousands of people, mostly children. Thousands more are at risk.

The weak and corrupt transitional government, backed by the United States, isn’t able to address the famine. It’s too busy trying to prevent Somalia’s capital, Mogadishu, from being overtaken by al-Qaeda-linked militants intent on turning the country into Islamic territory. The militants are exacerbating the crisis: they dictate which aid groups are allowed in and which are banned, and have been known to kidnap and kill aid workers while pilfering humanitarian supplies for their own use.

To be fair, the U.S. has provided millions in food and emergency assistance. But some are saying we – and other western donors – failed to respond to the pain and suffering quickly enough in spite of urgent pleas.

I don’t understand this. Maybe it’s because they’re so far away. Maybe it’s because they’re not American. Maybe it’s because we tried to help back in 1992 and Somali warlords killed some of our soldiers. Maybe it’s because they’re black or because the militants don’t want those who are suffering to get help or because Justin Bieber hasn’t tweeted about the situation. I don‘t really know why. But they’re human beings and they’re hurting and they need us.

“If we don’t act now, famine will spread to all eight regions of southern Somalia within two months, due to poor harvests and infectious diseases,” Mark Bowden, a U.N. official, said. “We still do not have all the resources for food, clean water, shelter and health services to save the lives of hundreds of thousands of Somalis.”

They need us.

Sources: Washington Post, Voice of America.

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