‘WORLD TURNS A BLIND EYE AS HUMAN DISASTER LOOMS LARGE OVER SOMALIA’
The United Nations has declared a state of famine in parts of Somalia — the first in East Africa this century.
Two years of drought have displaced 25 percent of Somalia’s population, while other countries in the region have also been badly affected. A UN report estimated that East Africa is experiencing the worst drought in 60 years, with more than 10 million people threatened by starvation in four countries — Somalia, Ethiopia, Kenya and Djibouti. It has been caused by the lack of rainfall and the failure of governments to adequately finance agriculture and irrigation schemes. Somalia is the hardest hit, with the UN declaring a famine in its Bakool and Lower Shabelle regions. A large number of malnourished children are dying every day in Somalia, the UN report said.
With humanitarian catastrophe looming large over the Horn of Africa, it is important that the global community stands united and acts urgently to bring relief to the people and reduce the number of daily deaths in the region. Qatar Tribune’s Ikoli Victor, Fortune Ulu, Opadijo Jelili and Victor Bolorunduro spoke to some African expatriates to ascertain their views on this grave humanitarian crisis. Excerpts:
POWER HUNGRY PEOPLE ARE RESPONSIBLE FOR SOMALIA’S DESTRUCTION KKaalluu OOkkoorree Nigerian national Somalia has not seen peace or progress since the 1990s. The power hungry people are responsible for what has happened to this country. They are only interested in the territories they grab without considering that the people are dying every hour due to extreme poverty, hunger and drought. But the warlords don’t care at all.
Will they lay down their arms now and begin to think of what to do to restore peace in the country and alleviate the suffering of the people? Humanitarian agencies are finding it difficult to render the much needed assistance because the place is not safe for their staff to operate. How can they send in relief aid if the people who are to administer the aid are not trustworthy? The military intervention by the United Nations and the African Union has made very little impact because the warlords have not cooperated at all.
KENYAN GOVERNMENT HAS RUN OUT OF FOOD AID AAbbdduullllaahhii KKaarreeeemm Somali national Our people are facing suffering and pain every day. Even the expatriates who want to contribute and send funds are finding it difficult because of the chaos in the country.
And it is not conducive to go home because the situation is very unsafe. The international community should continue with their efforts to intervene and find a solution. The neighbouring Kenyan government, which is hosting thousands of Somali refugees, has run out of food aid and relief materials. There is no proper structure on the ground in Somalia to manage the displaced and sick people. For now, people should be allowed to cross over to the refugee camp in Kenya. At least, international relief agencies and the media have access to these camps. If the situation in Somalia and the Horn of Africa is not aggressively addressed, the magnitude of the impact will be felt in the entire region soon.
MUSLIM COUNTRIES MUST MULTIPLY THEIR AID DURING RAMADAN UUssmmaann aall AAmmiinn Accountant The photographs of malnourished Somali women and children are shocking and heart-breaking. People are dying like chickens. They are surviving on one meal a day and most of them are sick and can hardly move. I believe the situation in the Horn of Africa is so severe, that the government of Kenya cannot manage alone.
The entire global community must get involved. During this holy month of Ramadan, Arab and Muslim countries must multiply their aid to Somalia, and put more pressure on the global community to do more for Somalia.
INTERNATIONAL COMMUNITY HAS DONE NOTHING SO FAR BBaalloogguunn DDeellee Nigerian national The current situation in North Africa, particularly Somalia, is serious. The situation is worse than a natural disaster.
The international community has done nothing to bring relief to the affected civilians. Instead of raising funds to assist the people in dire need, most world leaders have been busy donating huge amount of money to promote internal war in countries like Libya and Afghanistan. Bringing this famine under control should be the immediate priority of the African Union, the United Nations and other global bodies.
SOMALIA IS BATTLING AGAINST NATURAL AND MAN-MADE DISASTERS LLaawwaall OOlluusshhoollaa Nigerian national Somalia is a double tragedy. The country is battling against natural and man-made disasters. On the one hand, there is severe political strife and civil war while on the other hand, there is famine and drought.
And on both occasions, the biggest sufferers are the people. The political violence in the country has only worsened the situation.
A humanitarian crisis is looming over the region now with the advent of the drought and famine. All the global charitable organisations must think about how they can help and save as many Somali lives as possible.
FAMINE IN SOMALIA MAY EVEN IGNITE A CROSS-BORDER WAR EEllyyaass IIbbrraahhiimm Nigerian national The drought in East Africa could degenerate into another form of crisis as there has been growing tensions among the people in the border areas. The drought has increased the number of local conflicts and livestock theft in parts of the region, especially the northern part of Kenya.
These, in return, have increased the proliferation of arms among local people in a bid to protect themselves from ‘external aggression’. There is need to promptly tackle this famine, as it could even ignite a cross-border war.
UN AND AU MUST STEP UP EFFORTS TO CONTAIN THIS HUMAN DISASTER MMoosseess AAffeewwoorrkkii Ethiopian national We all agree that Somalia is a failed state.
But the question is how much the African Union and the global community can do to prevent a humanitarian disaster.
To contain the unfolding humanitarian crisis in the camps in Kenya and Ethiopia, the United Nations and international aid agencies need to get access to the areas inside Somalia which are currently under the control of the militant group, Al Shabab. The United Nations and African Union must step up their efforts to contain this human disaster and find ways of ending the suffering of the people. It is also important to address some of the causes behind the recurring famine in Somalia. Famine and epidemic has hit the country hard over the years. Factors like food security, political instability, armed conflict and civil war, corruption and mismanagement in handling food supplies and poor trade policies are all responsible for the destruction of Somalia.
AFRICANS MUST START THINKING ABOUT SOLVING THEIR OWN PROBLEMS AAaarroonn MMpphheellllaa South African national The African continent has been witnessing famine and drought for many years now. But, the rich and powerful governments have always turned a blind eye.
Lack of infrastructure for agricultural growth has caused regular food shortages in the Horn of Africa. The governments and people of Africa should rethink about depending on the West and must come together to find a solution to this regular problem. It is our responsibility as Africans — from Cairo, Tunis, Pretoria, Nairobi, Lagos, Yaounde, Gaborone to the Northern Cape — to help the people of Somalia. We must start thinking about solving our own problems. For this, we will require funds from the West and Asia, but it is also our duty to use such funds in a constructive and judicious way to alleviate poverty and hunger, and ensure progress and development in the region. Another important thing is, that the ethnic tribes and religious groups of Africa must end their differences and unite to end the continent’s dependency on foreign donors.
REPERCUSSION OF FAMINE WILL BE FELT BEYOND THE SOMALI BORDERS AAbbddiillkkaarriimm DDaallmmaann Somali national The Horn of Africa is experiencing its worst drought in decades. Hundreds of people have already died, and many more will perish if we don’t act now. The United Nations, Western governments and the African Union must do all it can to prevent such humanitarian tragedies. There has to be sustainable investment for both immediate and long-term solution. This will help farmers and their families and help protect their farmlands.
Overwhelmed by decades of political crisis, devastated by drought, flood, famine and poverty, Somalia has now plunged into a full-blown human catastrophe of monstrous proportion. And, the repercussion of this disaster will be felt beyond the Somali borders.
WORLD MUST HOLD AN EMERGENCY CONFERENCE ON SOMALIA PPaauull UUdduummee Electrical engineer It is extremely sad to see people dying in the Horn of Africa today. It is hard to believe that in this modern age, when some countries are thinking about sending people to the Mars, thousands of people in Somalia are still finding it difficult to get a day’s meal. The United Nations must do more, and along with other aid donors must find a permanent solution to end this man-made disaster. The entire world must hold a conference on Somalia and find ways to bring immediate relief to the people of the region.
HELPLESS MOTHERS LEFT THEIR CHILDREN BEHIND TO DIE TTaajjuuddeeeenn GGbbaajjaabbiiaammiillaa Executive The world community must come together to save the lives of as many people as possible. People have turned to near skeletons due to lack of food. I was taken aback to hear stories of women who had to leave their children behind to die because they were too weak to make the journey to the refugee camps across the border in Kenya. One of the women said that she had three children but she is now left with only one. The other two have died of hunger.
WARRING SOMALI GROUPS MUST AGREE TO A CEASEFIRE KKeevviinn OOkkoorroo Sales executive The slow response of the global community to the sufferings of the people of Somalia and the Horn of Africa is unacceptable. Powerful Western governments and rich Arab nations must come together to bring the situation under control. These governments must monitor the situation in Somalia on a daily basis and also put more pressure on the warring groups to agree to a ceasefire. Let the UN bodies reach out to the people in the remote parts of the country.
GLOBAL COMMUNITY MUST DO MORE TO PREVENT A HUMANITARIAN CATASTROPHE QQaassssiimm AA Nigerian national The extreme drought in Somalia will lead to outbreak of diseases soon. This will cause more deaths. The refugee camps in Kenya are overcrowded and people have already started falling sick.
The camp in Daadab, Kenya, which was originally meant for 90,000 people, is currently holding more than 400,000 people. The people living there are exposed to diseases. The world community must intervene immediately and provide as much assistance as possible to end the suffering and prevent a humanitarian catastrophe.
THE UN SHOULD URGENTLY HOLD A GLOBAL SESSION ON SOMALIA DDaayyoo FFaattookkii Geologist The United Nations should hold a global session on Somalia. The situation there is sad and dangerous. People are dying in hordes every day. Food aid and other relief materials must be rushed to the region to ensure that people’s lives can be saved. Proper medical facilities should also be provided to the malnourished women and children.
The African Union must get more involved with the crisis and rally support for the cause.