Millions in the Horn of Africa are facing starvation due to the droughts. But droughts are nothing new in the region and have been managed successfully in the past. Though they are not man-made, the reasons droughts turn into famines are. In this case, the War on Terror has worsened the situation and contributed to a humanitarian disaster. These are some 3 reasons why and what you you can do about it.
1) Influenced by its backers, Somalia’s spends most of its money on security and administrative costs
In 2015, the Somali government’s total spending on administrative and security spending accounted for more than 85%, while only about 10% of total spending went towards economic and social services.
Despite the UK having pledged over £100m to relief efforts in Somalia, the security-heavy political restrictions placed upon charities means that aid does not find its way to the most needy.
This week, the British government announced £21m more aid to the stricken country. This aid, however, is to assist with efforts to “counter extremism” and bolster the National Security Architecture. This includes funding African Union forces and the Somali National Army, both of whom have been accused of atrocities against civilians.
2) US restrictions prevent humanitarian aid in large parts of the country
Al Shabaab continues to control vast swathes of rural territory.
The designation of Al Shabaab as a terrorist organisation, first by the US then later by the UN security council, and subsequent terrorism financing laws have had a chilling effect on relief efforts. Fearing criminal prosecution, charities have been discouraged from operating in Al-Shabaab areas.
Al Shabaab has banned UN agencies and other charities from operating in the areas they control, citing ‘misconduct’ and ‘espionage’. They also placed conditions and restricted access into its areas, except to those it considers ‘independent’ and ‘neutral’.
For Michel Gabaudan, president of Refugees International, talking to the “other side” is a necessity during such crisis.
“Concerns are outweighed by the extraordinary humanitarian imperative to get assistance to those people who will not survive without it”, he wrote in 2011.
3) Humanitarian aid is used as a bargaining chip
Somali journalist for Al Jazeera Hamza Mohamed hinted to this problem in a recent Facebook post:
“Have you asked yourself how the West can airdrop bombs in areas under al-Shabaab control but has never airdropped a single sack of maize to the starving Somalis living in those areas?”, he wrote.
“Aid in Somalia is all about politics. It is not about helping Somalis. Period. Don’t let anyone tell you otherwise.
“By not giving aid to those living in areas under al-Shabaab the West is hoping they will move away from al-Shabaab areas into government-controlled towns and cities.
This way, the West hopes, al-Shabaab will be left with empty towns and villages.
“This policy by the West is why in 2011 Mogadishu went from being the capital city of the country into an overcrowded IDP camp”, he concluded
TAKE THREE ACTIONS NOW!
1) Make dua!
Allah says in the quran: “And it is He who sends the winds as good tidings before His mercy, and We send down from the sky pure water. That We may bring to life thereby a dead land and give it as drink to those We created of numerous livestock and men”. Surah Al Furqan v 48-49
People have gathered across Somalia to pray for rain, performing salaat al istisqaa (Prayer for rain).
We should all supplicate in our prostration and qunoot for all those stricken by droughts and famine in the world.
2) Donate to trusted, independent charities
“Who is it that will offer up unto God a goodly loan, which He will amply repay? For, such (as do so) shall have a noble reward”. Surah Al – Hadid, 57:11
The urgency requires that we donate immediately to alleviate the suffering of the people on the ground. There are several independent charities which work on the ground. Do your research and don’t delay!
3) Campaign to end the violence that causes famine
There is no doubt that there is an urgent need to get aid delivered to the country, but if we don’t address the man-made causes of the crisis, we will likely see the same disaster again in the coming years, just like we saw it in 2011 with 250 000 losing their life.
(NOTE: CAGE represents cases of individuals based on the remit of our work. Supporting a case does not mean we agree with the views or actions of the individual. Content published on CAGE may not reflect the official position of our organisation.)