…tens of thousands ofÂ children have died from the ongoing drought, and in fact, even though conditions have gotten worse, most of the international media has moved on to other things.Â One who has not is the New York Times’ Jeffrey Gettleman, whose report two days ago from the ground was horrifying.Â And westerners appear to be suffering from compassion overload.Â Although the death toll might exceed 750,000, dwarfing previous droughts,
support â€” meaning dollars â€” has been frustratingly scant. While many more lives are at stake in Somaliaâ€™s crisis, other recent disasters pulled in far more money. For instance, Save the Children U.S. has raised a little more than $5 million in private donations for the Horn of Africa crisis, which includes Somalia and the drought-inflicted areas of Kenya and Ethiopia. That contrasts with what Save the Children raised in 2004 for the Indonesian tsunami ($55.4 million) or the earthquake in Haiti in 2010 ($28.2 million) or even the earthquake in Japan earlier this year ($22.8 million) â€” and Japan is a rich country.
It’s not just hunger: pastoralist communities near the border of Somalia are especially affected, as many familiesâ€™ animalsâ€”upon which they depended completely for their livelihoodsâ€”have died because of the drought. Men from the communities often leave their homes and go to the cities to look for work, and women and children are left to fend for themselves.
And what happens when women and children are left to fend for themselves?Â They get assaulted and raped; the drought zone has not approached eastern Congo as the most dangerous place on earth for women, but it is doing its best, so to speak.
It doesn’t help that at
a time when Somalia is suffering from the worst drought in 60 years, a ruthless militant group called the Shabab, which is essentially a Qaeda franchise, is on such an anti-Western tirade that it has banned Western music, Western dress, soccer, bras and even Western food aid. The Shabab are a heavily armed complication that differentiates this crisis from previous famines in Somalia, Ethiopia or Sudan and from other recent natural disasters like the tsunami in Indonesia or Haitiâ€™s earthquake, where aid groups were able to rush in and start saving lives within a matter of hours….
People told me the Shabab were trying to prevent anyone from leaving and that Shabab fighters had even set up special camps where thousands of exhausted, hungry and sick people were corralled at gunpoint, an ideal breeding ground for disease, especially because the Shabab have also banned immunizations. Itâ€™s the perfect storm to kill countless children. Measles, typhoid and cholera are already beginning to sweep through the camps. Epidemiologists predict that the fatalities will shoot up and thousands of people will perish when the heavy rains come in November and December, spreading waterborne diseases.
Ken Menkhaus, a political science professor at Davidson College who has been working as a consultant on Somalia since the early 1990s, said the Shabab had pushed Somalia to a tipping point.
â€œThe worst-case scenario is a Khmer Rouge situation where a group with a twisted ideology presides over the mass death of its own people,â€ he said. â€œThe numbers are going to be horrifying.â€
My response is to give to the American Jewish World Service, which has a series of long-running contacts with indigenous organizations.Â Even when the Shabab won’t let western groups in, AJWS can work with local partners.Â AJWS has also focused on the thousands of Kenyans across the Somali border who has been overwhelmed by the refugee influx and mostly ignored by other organizations.Â And since AJWS has specialized for years in capacity-building with local partners, supporting them will probably do some sort of preventative work for the future.Â Â Here’s a link to give to them, but there are many reputable organizations.
In any event, it’s going to be very ugly.
16 thoughts on “Meanwhile, in the Horn of Africa….”
7 billion. Certainly there are better ways to get us back to 4 billion. But until someone steps up, this is the future. You cannot stop it. You cannot.
Having 4B as a…erm…for lack of a better word ‘goal’ depends on the consumption rate.
I have it on good authority that we should be optimistic about the future of the horn of Africa.
I completely agree 🙂 hope everyone will be optimistic too!
Lars, please elaborate. I’d like to see who thinks the horn will be awesome sooner rather than later.
Humans are so adaptable. This can only give their nerds incentive to work out better ways to survive droughts.
My thoughts as well, Lars.
Uhh, you do realize Lars is being sarcastic?
And mocking the views of a certain economist poster on this blog?
Why, yes I do realize that, in a genial and naive manner from my perch on high.
Does anyone happen to remember whether or not the Islamic Court Union people were *so* bad that someone needed to get rid of them, making more room for these ones? It seems as if most Muslims are pretty clear on one thing: they don’t like Christian invasions.
Maybe what we need is a nice moderate Muslim country that could help out Somalia. Like Turkey maybe. I often wonder if getting rid of the Ottoman Empire was the smart move, in hindsight.
On the other hand, a Muslim invasion might not go over well either. This is a horrible situation, and I’m not sure why people here need to be so glib about it.
Here’s why people are so glib about it:
Salient points to note:
– population in 1984 (Band Aid and all that — yeah yeah, Somalia, Ethiopia, whatever): 6.3 million
– population today: 9.3 million
– changes in the geography, farming habits, or anything else that makes Somalia capable of handling a larger population during this period: zero
Another point to note:
– the population was flat from around 1981 to around 1995. Malthus will not be denied. If war is going to keep the population sustainable (the essential story during those years) then famine (or disease — still a chance for that to come in) will do the job.
This is NOT about racism. It’s not about ignoring “the other”. It’s about reality. That’s why no-one much cares.
Truth is, in their heart of hearts, the very same people who insist that world population is not a problem, that magic (of some unspecified sort) will save us all, get a little queasy when they see this sort of reality — 50% growth in one generation. But an honest discussion about what’s going on could open a real can of worms. So people the world over shut their eyes, close their ears, and, try to pretend that what’s happening their has no, zero, none-whatsoever, relevance to the rest of us.
This problem has festered for years. Remember when the Bush administration supported an Ethiopian invasion of Somalia? That didn’t end well. But what was the alternative? A US lead invasion? We need only look to the last invasion to see how well that will go. If there is a solution, I don’t see it.
Are you people seriously suggesting that war and a fake “famine” are good because they cut down the population figures? Or that it is green to not give a sh*t? Or you’re all somehow “realists” instead of … well, what is the word for you? Oh but wait … I’ve lost interest in you.
The quality of the company here is really going downhill. Somebody needs to clean house.
Are you people seriously suggesting that war and a fake â€œfamineâ€ are good because they cut down the population figures?
Such false premises have always been tiresome. Surely the cave men in southern France thought the same of the unwashed they were overrunning and procreating with at the same time.
pardon my french but WTF???
Why can’t people just get along? seriously i’m tired of people always having to put down others for trying to be postive. why did the world come to this?
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