Western Apathy Causes Starvation and Devastation Abroad: U.N. Officially Declares Famine in Somalia

The UN has officially declared famine in two regions of Somalia, Bokol and Lower Shabelle.

The UN has not officially declared famine since 1984, and the food shortage comes amidst the worst drought East Africa has seen in 60 years.

More than 30% of children in the region are acutely malnourished, and about four in 10,000 children die every day.

Humanitarian co-ordinator for Somalia Mark Bowden said Wednesday "We still do not have all the resources for food, clean water, shelter and health services to save the lives of hundreds of thousands of Somalis in desperate need.”

Desperation has forced thousands of Somalis to flee their country in search of food and water. Suffering under the scoldering heat, they spend days trying to reach refugee camps in neighbors Kenya and Ethiopia.

“If we don’t act now, famine will spread to all eight regions of southern Somalia within two months, due to poor harvests and infectious disease outbreaks,” Bowden said.
According to CNN, “about 10 million people are at risk of famine in the Horn of Africa. Somalia, wracked by years of internal violence and insecurity, is the worst affected.”
U.S. and European action is vital.

The announcement prompted Hillary Clinton to declare $28 million in additional funding for Somalis and Somali refugees in Kenya.

"We have already responded with over $431 million in food and nonfood emergency assistance this year alone," Hillary Clinton said in a written statement. "But it is not enough -- the need is only expected to increase and more must be done by the United States and the international community."
The suffering in Somalia is unacceptable, and policy makers abroad must accept some responsibility and continue to offer resources: Oxfam defines famine as "triple failure of food production, people's ability to access food The human suffering is unimaginable, and it is a and a clear failure of distracted policy makers abroad. and, finally and most crucially in the political response by governments and international donors. Crop failure and poverty leave people vulnerable to starvation -- but famine only occurs with political failure."

Read more about the famine in Somali here.

AlterNet / By Kristen Gwynne

Posted at July 20, 2011, 9:49am