Saturday, January 09, 2010

Somalia: No Food, No Water, No Health – No Aid

Orphaned and vulnerable children are suffering the most in the ongoing conflict in Somalia. - Photo: UN


Republished kind permission of IDN-InDepth NewsAnalysis

NAIROBI (IDN) – War-torn and drought-ravaged Somalia is facing a humanitarian crisis with aid coffers empty and no funding raised or pledged for food, water, sanitation, health and other vital needs.

Probably U.S. military commanders, and most likely President Barack Obama himself, did not hear this alarming message. They may be now simply excited putting new red pins on their map of battlefields against Al-Qaeda. Somalia and Yemen are now visible on the map.


See what president Obama had to say on Jan.7: “We are at war. We are at war against al-Qaeda, a far-reaching network of violence and hatred that attacked us on 9/11, that killed nearly 3,000 innocent people and that is plotting to strike us again. And we will do whatever it takes to defeat them.”

More: “And we've made progress. Al-Qaeda's leadership is hunkered down. We have worked closely with partners, including Yemen, to inflict major blows against al-Qaeda leaders.”

Even when not explicitly mentioned this time, previous statements and reports coincide in the fact that Somalia is designated to be an active part of this war-game.

The oil-rich Arabs -- Somalia is full member of the League of Arab States -- are now more involved than ever in this Western-piloted “war”.

Anyway, this new cry for humanitarian aid comes from a supra-parties source: the United Nations.

In fact, the UN Resident and Humanitarian Coordinator, Mark Bowden, has just launched this dramatic message, while alerting of the potential that the situation could spill over “into a major regional crisis”.

But why should they pay attention to this kind of cries?

After all, for Washington, London and other Western capitals, what really counts is the necessity of achieving success in their war games with the ‘new big evil’ -- Islamism, which they started virtually after the fall of the previous ‘big evil’ -- communism. After all, both evils end with the suffix ‘ism’.


“The main message that we have is that the potential humanitarian funding crisis is life-threatening, it threatens a large proportion of the population,” said Bowden.

“The consequence of not addressing the situation in Somalia is that we could expect more displacement into other parts of the region putting a great deal more stress on Djibouti, Ethiopia and Kenya at a time when they can’t afford to support them either.”

The UN official explanation to why industrialised, advanced, democratic and human rights-oriented countries are not reacting is simple.

UN aid agencies are talking to donors, “some of whom are concerned about the effectiveness of aid in a country torn apart by factional fighting and without a functioning central government since 1991, or worried that humanitarian supplies could fall into the hands of terrorists, but so far nothing has been concluded.”


“Time is precious”, said Bowden, “so if we don’t resolve this soon, the humanitarian consequences are very, very serious indeed… Time is running out.”

The UN representative was right: on Jan. 5, the UN World Food Programme (WFP) announced its decision to shut down aid provisions.

“Mounting 'inhumane' attacks on humanitarian workers as well as unacceptable demands made by armed groups, have forced the United Nations to shut down some of distributions for up to one million hungry people in Somalia.” it explained.


For its part, the UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF) also picked up the issue of donors’ ‘concerns’, assuring that the “feeling that aid can barely do anything in Somalia is misplaced.”

“It is important to remember that Somalia has been polio free since 2007 and this year has immunized 1.5 million children -- 85 per cent of those under five -- as well as one million women, 65 per cent of those of child bearing age against tetanus,” explained UNICEF country representative Rozanne Chorlton.

“So Somalia on track to be measles- and tetanus-free,” she added while underscoring the need to keep up this level of activity.

“Really big things can happen in Somalia in terms of humanitarian service delivery, in terms of saving lives. If we fail to get at least 12 million dollars for the first quarter of the year, people will die, children will die.”


Overall, the humanitarian sector is seeking 689 million dollars for the whole of 2010. If divided between G8, which comprise the richest powers on Earth, their individual share of these 689 million dollars would amount to just 86,1 million dollars.

This should be no big money for the United States of America, Japan, Russia, Germany, France, Britain, Canada and Italy, countries that spend more resources on weaponry, nuclear arsenals included.
If it is instead divided between the G20, the individual share be of just 344, 500 dollars each.

What would this money be spent on? Data from past year shows that the number of people in need of assistance on a regular basis had risen from 3.17 million to 3.64 million -- over a half of Somalia’s total population.

But there is more --1.18 million face an acute crisis of food and livelihood insecurity, and some 1.55 million are displaced, “almost the world’s largest displacement,” according to Bowden.

Nevertheless, humanitarian agencies received for 2009 “only about half of the 900 million dollars sought for the year, thus allowing no carry-over for 2010.” (IDN-InDepthNews/08.01.2010)

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