Monday, July 18, 2011

Help Required, Urgently

The United Nations' UNICEF program has been permitted by the Somali Islamists to resume saving the lives of Somalian children. "It was successful and it was a good step toward airlifting supplies into Somalia. It is the first in two years", UNICEF spokeswoman for Somalia Iman Morooka declared.

Al-Shebab has reconsidered. Perhaps foreign aid humanitarian groups are not after all Western spies and Christian crusaders. It is dreadfully inconvenient for al-Qaeda-associated Islamists in Somalia to have all these people dying around them. It makes them look bad, particularly if they persist in disallowing aid to reach the starving.

Not their fault, after all, if a persistent drought has destroyed the region's crops and left people suffering from endemic malnutrition. They're just busy doing what's right with Islam, bringing strict Sharia and the Salafist tradition back into dominance where it belongs. The Prophet, the Koran and Allah demand no less of them.

And it's all the fault of the West, to begin with. Draining Africa of its wealth and natural resources, leaving nothing for the people of the region but parched land and dead hopes. Dead children also, lots of them, perishing on the long march from Somalia to the refugee camps in Kenya. Even UNICEF blames the West for its lack of response to the emergency.
"We have seen some derisory offers from rich European countries. the whole international community ... should now realize the scale of what is happening in the Horn of Africa and put their shoulder to the wheel and do everything they can to help." British International Development Secretary Andrew Mitchell.
And where is Africa helping itself? The oil-rich states, for example, and those governments whose leaders pocket rent from China for the leasing of agricultural land where Chinese farmers work the land and the produce is sent back to China. How does this benefit Africans? Does this not represent a violation of the human rights of Africans?

The palm oil, eucalyptus, teak, corn, cassava, sugar cane and other crops could hugely benefit African farm workers and African consumers. Chinese companies who have forged farming deals and taken land concessions have no stake other than exploitative in African well-being; their international conscience is assuaged by sending a paltry few million dollars to the UN food program.

Tens of thousands of desperate Somali women and children are trekking a long march to arrive at refugee camps where they hope to receive food, water and medical help. On the way the children who are too weak to survive the journey, die. Families are exposed to attacks on their journey and robbed of the paltry few belongings they have.

The refugee camps in Dadaab constitute the world's largest, with over four times their capacity, holding over a third of a million desperate people. History, in Africa, has an unfortunate tendency to repeat itself, time and again. Depressingly familiar, the stories of famine, drought, starvation, civil war, violations of human rights and dignity.

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