SOS: Save dying Somalis,
instead of arming rebels
By Chidi Emmanuel
A desperate situation requires urgent and desperate action. “Please help us. Where are our Western, Muslims, Christians and African brothers?” one Somali nursing mother cried out on the Al-Jazeera TV channel as she clutched her malnourished baby. It is very pathetic to watch the flood of exhausted, rail-thin hungry, pale looking men, women and children on the TV, limping into refugee camps in Kenya with dead babies and bleeding feet, having left their weaker family members behind along the way in their quest for survival. The Horn of Africa is suffering a devastating drought compounded by war and neglect.
It is more humane to arm these drought-ravaged, climate-change victims (Somalis) with modern agricultural technology to fight this disaster, instead of arming the rebels with weapons. UN on Wednesday officially declared Somalia’s food crisis a famine - with millions of people on the brink of starvation. Thousands of people are feared dead and about 500,000 children are malnourished-facing death without rapid intervention-yet the world’s response so far can best be described as ‘cautiously concerned.’
Whereas it took the West (the major polluters and cause of global warming) less than a month to invade and arm the rebels in Libya, it is taking the world more than a decade to resolve this Somali crisis. According to various reports, Somalis are starving - not because of their laziness but because of drought -caused by the global warming. In this case, they are paying for the sins they didn’t actually commit. Combined with drought, corruption and incompetent governance, Somalia seems to have been constantly on the verge of big disaster.
It will be better and cheaper to arm these people with the training and modern technology to fight off this menace than to arm rebels with sophisticated weapons. This is the time to act. These hungry people don’t need summits, stimulus package, bailout, polices, G8 and G20 meetings right now. In his words, the United Nations’ Humanitarian Coordinator for Somalia Mark Bowden has said it all, “Every day of delay in assistance is literally a matter of life or death.” Somalia is a bitter lesson for all including the Al- Shabab militants who have exacerbated the crisis - complicating the aids deliveries over the years. If nothing else, the Somali famine should force the world to focus its attention once again on the problems of Africa, which is beset with troubles ranging from brutal dictatorships, disease and climate change to terrorism and armed conflict.
Thanks to some NGOs and some countries that have already started to ante up the money that will be needed to save thousands of lives in this world-forsaken nation. But let this not be the Haiti earthquake pledges, and donations that ended up on the lips of the donors while the victims of the earthquakes still remain on the streets of Port-au-Prince. The G8 - the world’s richest nations three years ago pledged 15 billion pounds towards building up Africa’s agriculture. Sadly, only one fifth of that money has reportedly gone into Africa.
There seems to be no shortage of money for the wars - but for aid, it will remain a pledge - just a pledge. It is inhuman and obscene to be spending billions on wars when there are people starving to death. Thanks to Kenya. It has been bearing the brunt of this-with its own problems. ‘He who gives promptly gives twice.’