A daily blog on the thrills, spills, and frequent absurdities of the world's one and only 'non-imperial empire' - as Barroso himself called it - the European Union.

Anything to say? Contact me at europeandisunion@yahoo.co.uk

Thursday, 28 July 2011

Somalia's Famine is not Caused by Western Hands

Someone - but necessarily us - must oust the Islamists before prosperity can return

I can't work out who has the worse job: Maryan Qasim, the Somalian government's former women's minister, or Farah Ahmed Qare, the commander of their navy. The government, I should add, controls barely a few square miles in central Mogadishu. It has no access to the sea and whatever control it has over the ports is sporadic at best. Most of the women have long since fled into refugee camps, and those that remain do not venture outdoors. There isn't much that the provisional government - or its embattled ministers - can really do to assist the impoverished, war-torn people of Somalia, other than write articles for the Guardian.

'I believe the international community has failed to tackle this crisis and thus we must do more now, before it's too late,' she writes, before setting out an ambitious programme. 'What is needed right now is for the international community to act immediately to save the millions who are starving. Food, water, medicine and shelter are all urgently needed. Aid needs to be delivered strategically to minimise the distance people are travelling in search of food and water.' She is not the only one calling for the west to do more - Somalia's Prime Minister, who perhaps has the worst job of all, insists that the United Nations is 'holding back aid.' They're either not distributing it or simply not sending it, according to him, and that's why it's not reaching the people on the ground who desperately need it.

But there is another explanation, according to Al-Jazeera. One of the most authoritative sources on the subject, they have reported what Sheikh Ali Mohamud Rage, a Al-Shabaab spokesman, said on Islamist radio (there's a contradiction in terms if ever I saw one). It pretty much explains why aid isn't getting through - it's been banned. 'The declaration of famine is political and is a lie with hidden agendas,' the Islamist rebels have decreed. They insist that the famine is merely a 'lack of rain,' and have forced all agencies out of their 'area of control' - pretty much the whole of southern Somalia.

This may be due to ideological reasons - aid is too 'western,' a claim which has some basis in reality seeing as the oil-rich billionaire monarchs of Arabia don't seem to be sending any - or it may be their attempt at punishing the west for the killing of their leader, Ibrahim Haji Jama Mee'aad, on the 25th June. But, either way, it's their fault the supplies aren't getting through. Not ours. So, with all due respect to Maryan Qasim, her attempted lecturing of the west falls on deaf ears: as long as local players are opposed to the presence of western aid agencies and NGOs, there's nothing us westerners can do to alleviate the situation.


Blogging will be light over the next two weeks as I'm off to Scotland, where my Internet access will be sporadic, at best. I shall still be able to do one or two updates in that time (one of which should be a post about how environmentalist policies ruin the lives and livelihoods of rural people in the northwest), however, and will pen a large article on the future of Euroscepticism in the UK, which will hopefully be worth the wait.

No comments:

Post a Comment