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Islamists Reject Western Aid For Starving Somalians

In Somalia, drought disaster created famine conditions endangering millions, but Islamists deny it and won't let aid through.
By Amiel Ungar
First Publish: 7/24/2011, 10:08 PM

 

Newspapers, ministers of various governments, UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon, assorted UN agencies as well as NGOs are all pleading for assistance to drought-stricken Somalia.

Over two million people are reported to be facing starvation. The money and the food may be raised, but the problem is that the most afflicted area is controlled by the Al-Shabab guerrillas whose objective is to impose Moslem Sharia law on Somalia.

While the Red Cross and UNICEF have sporadically managed to deliver aid in areas controlled by the organization, other groups such as the World Food Program have fared worse. The WFP has lost many aid workers in the Civil War fighting since 2008.

Al-Shabab has officially banned many of the aid organizations claiming that they are exaggerating the gravity of the situation in the area controlled by the Islamist organization. Al-Shabab also contends that it had received complaints from local farmers that outside food assistance made it difficult for the farmers to eke out a living from agriculture. The group sometimes justifies its refusal by labeling the aid organizations "Christian" and "Western" and therefore suspect.

If  food cannot get to the famine victims, the famine victims will make a torturous attempt to get to the food. Not all of them will make it. Those who do are in refugee camps in neighboring Kenya, Ethiopia or in the government controlled capital of Somalia, Mogadishu. This in turn creates a new problem and Kenya has already called upon the African Union to relocate some of the refugees to other African countries or perhaps even Britain.

It would also like the aid agencies to build schools and provide food to the refugees in their country of origin since they are no longer fleeing war but fleeing hunger.

Humanitarian organizations and UN aid officers have called the situation immoral. They are calling for long-term efforts to fight drought conditions and since the bulk of the problem is caused by the internal wars in Somalia, they want international mediation to achieve peace and democracy in Somalia.

Such a request, however well motivated, contains no small measure of naivete. What is the purpose of mediation with a group that is determined to impose Sharia law on the country and is willing to countenance the death of hundreds of thousands by starvation in order to demonstrate its steadfastness?

The intervention in Libya was launched to save a few thousand lives. In Somalia, hundreds of thousands, perhaps millions of lives are endangered and  there is no talk of  intervention.

The US humanitarian intervention in Somalia during the 1990s ended disastrously. No one has any enthusiasm for a second attempt at nation building in a failed state.