Hawa Madey looked at her children, ages 2 and 3 months. They had yellowing skin and small sores on their heads, both signs of severe malnutrition. “I worry a lot about what will happen to my babies. Can you help?”
Last week, the United Nations formally declared the outbreak of a famine in two southern regions in Somalia, yet there are already 3.2 million people within Somalia that require lifesaving assistance and international relief is either slim or nonexistent. Already beginning in March, Somalian have been fleeing the land to cross the borders into Kenya and Ethiopia in search of refugee camps and hope; rather then being welcome with medical assistance, there were no doctors and no aid agencies distributing food. As Xuken Muhumed stated, “I am asking the international community to give me medication to help my children and food to feed my family. So far, I have not gotten any support”.
To make matters worse, last week, the al-Qaeda linked terrorist organization known as al-Shabab has rescinded its promise to end its barring of international aid agencies from delivering assistance to regions it controls. Perhaps the organization views foreign aid as a manipulative weapon for Christian crusaders to convert the people of Somalia, perhaps the organization aims at blocking aid to deliver its own assistance in its mission to gather support against the US backed transitional government in Somalia, or perhaps the terrorist organization has developed a conscious after discovering 19 to 24 children per 10,000 under the age of 5 are dying every day? No. The terrorist organization refuses to recognize the existence of a famine in southern Somalia. Tens of thousands of Somalian women and children are walking hundreds of miles of dust and heat, passing bodies of the more unfortunate, fleeing the worst famine in generations. Clearly, the famine is a figment of imagination that is part of a larger Western conspiracy theory to undermine the radical ideologies of al-Qaeda.
Nearly 17,000 Somalians have already fled the appalling situations of Somalia, deserting a corrupt and weak transitional government that has refused to assist in the situation because of its struggle to keep al-Shabab to establish an Islamic emirate. In Kenya about 1,300 are arriving in daily and 1,700 in Ethiopia. These are the lucky few to have survived the journey.
“These are becoming roads of death. Over half the women I talked to had to leave children to die or had children die” – Josette Sheran, UN World Food Program
Aid agencies have been sounding the alarm for months and yet the UN deceleration is only a week old, leaving any help from the international community to a slow and sluggish start. Refugee camps are on the verge of being overrun and aid agencies are struggling to keep refugees sheltered and fed. The Somalian people are strong, having dealt with 2 decades of civil war and 2 seasons of no rain, but current circumstances have not made matters worst. The World Food Program is aiming at establishing aid distribution sites and camps in Dolo, but the international community must have a stronger presence in Somalia. A stronger presence will aid the people of Somalia and help weaken the established militia of al-Shabab, a mission the West has undertaken for generations.