Somalia: Food or Drone Strikes?

“The Somalia famine is spiraling out of control”. Oxfam is requesting the international community to respond with further aid and funding, stating that $1.4 billion in needed in assistance.

With the UN classifying the famine in the Horn of Africa as the worst case in the world, as well as the worst famine in Somalia in over two decades, the people of Somalia are desperate for a change in their scenario. More than 12 million people in Somalia, Kenya, Ethiopia, and Djibouti need food aid but despite the already drastic statistics, the most startling news is the lack of intervention by the US. Rather than supporting the communal efforts of the UN, Oxfam, and UNIFCEF, to relieve the ailing people, the US has authorized military action. Because of the large presence of al-Shabbab in the southern regions of Somalia, mainly Mogadishu where the majority of the famine struck populace has fled to, the US has diverted to military action to target al-Shabbab and potentially ensure the no aid is diverted to the efforts of the terrorist organization.  Clearly, the threat is present as 2 military personnel of the African Union were killed by a suicide bombing today and BBC reporter David Muir reported during an attack on the aid convoy he was currently riding with. 

Despite the threat and high percent chance that certain amounts of the Western aid will be diverted to al-Shabbab efforts, the international community must ask itself whether it will risk the lives of millions of innocent civilians to ensure that al-Shabbab is not given a chance to plunder some aid convoys.  Furthermore, the launched it first drone strike within Somalia’s border last month in efforts to hunt the al-Shabbab leader, Anwar al-Awlaki.  With the USA’s past success with hunting terrorist leaders, sometimes taking multiple years, the Somalian people will not be able to sustain themselves for those countless years.  Change, hope, or logic (call it what you will) might be emerging in the USA’s in the White House and the counterterrorism agency. About 2.2 million of the 3.7 million people affected the Somalia famine live in parts of al-Shabbab controlled regions, making it extremely difficult for the US to work through its current “moral dilemma”.  The US has made it evident that they do not wish to potentially support the terrorist agency but the Obama administration is moving to ease anti-terrorism restrictions in Somalia.  The need to lift the restrictions has some come at the cost of thousands of villagers, many of them women and children, dying of hunger.  Once again, the international community is presented with the stubbornness and high costs that must come before the US rises to action (e.g. Debt crisis). 

“The question is, can we live with some diversion of aid to stop famine the famine”  Ken Menkhaus, Davidson College professor and expert on Somalia

If the Somalian people are battling through the worst famine in the world, a political vacuum, a weak government, and al-Shabbab, the people of America can deal with a supposed “dilemma” as the aid with be doing more good than harm.  The majority of Somalia is being directly affected by the lack of foreign assistance and even with minor portions being diverted to al-Shabbab, the rest will help the humanitarian effort.

Take a look at the current circumstances in Somalia:


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