The eastern African nation of Somalia is the site of an unfolding humanitarian nightmare ― a massive famine that has cost tens of thousands of Somali lives in the past few months, the United Nations says. More than 3 million people are affected right now and more than 10 million at risk across the Horn of Africa. The BBC said on August 6 that roughly 640,000 children are acutely malnourished in Somalia, and 3.2 million people need immediate life-saving assistance.
United States officials have blamed the mass starvation on al-Shabab rebels who control southern Somalia.
Al-Shabab ― which has been battling Somalia’s US-backed Transitional Federal Government for the past four years ― has been labelled a terrorist organization and a wing of al-Qaeda by the US. Washington claims the group is responsible for worsening drought conditions by blocking aid routes into the most affected areas. The rebels reversed an earlier decision to lift a ban on some international agencies. This prompted US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton to claim on August 4 that al-Shabab was “preventing assistance to the most vulnerable populations in Somalia”.
But there is much more to this story. Blame for the crisis in Somalia lies squarely with the US. Decades of Western intervention lie at the heart of this crisis.Aid officials have cited a lack of resources ― not al-Shabab ― as the chief obstacle to reaching famine victims. The UN has requested US$1.6 billion to address the crisis, but has received only about half that. The US has pledged a pitiful $28 million in response to the UN request.
Clinton claimed the US has already given over $431 million in food and nonfood emergency assistance to Somalia this year alone. But a hefty portion of what the US allocates for Somalia comes in the form of military assistance, both for the Somali government and the 9000-strong African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM) force, composed mainly of troops from Uganda and Burundi.
Title: “Somalia: Hunger Made in the USA
Author: Lee Wengraf
Publication Source: Green Left Weekly
Date: August 21, 2011
Student Researcher: Alyssa Hara, Sonoma State University
Faculty Researcher: Heather Flynn, Sonoma State University