Eleven million people need food assistance in the Horn of Africa. The situation seems surreal while sitting at the computer reading the information on my computer screen while snacking on food at will. It’s difficult to imagine so many people experiencing such basic hunger and nutrition deprivation. It’s not hunger that is uncomfortable like most of us feel in between meals. It is gnawing hunger that distends infant bellies and eyeballs and turns men and women into walking skeletons.
Staring at the images of starving children, ramshackle huts made out of debris, and outreached hands at food distribution centres, it seemed odd that you don’t see mothers crying as they talk about their children who died on the walk to the camps or died while waiting for medical help. Then it hit me…they don’t cry because death is something starving people live with on a daily basis. Death is a part of life for these mothers.
Here is where the world can find hope though – hope that extends far beyond the Somalia borders. The organisations providing aid in the region represent a union of nonprofits, governments, international committees, religious groups and churches, medical corps and so many others. Mercy Corps, Red Cross, Doctors Without Borders, Save the Children, International Rescue Committee, American Jewish World Service, Catholic Relief Services, UN Refugee Agency and so many more are providing food, medical assistance, potable water, blankets, mattresses, soap and tents.
Thinking of the distended bellies of hungry children and the massive worldwide aid flowing into Somalia, you can’t help but wonder why it takes 11 million hungry people to evoke a worldwide unified response.
The European Union at the United Nations has just announced it is spending an additional 175 million euros on Somaliland development including infrastructure improvements, education and food security. The Commissioner for Development, Andris Piebalgs, said that the famine in Somalia is causing the current immediate humanitarian crisis, but it is not the root cause of an embedded crisis. The root causes have created a protracted crisis and not an immediate one. Why did it take famine to get the world’s attention when this was a crisis that has been developing for years? Why wait for the babies to starve in a drought before tackling the “deeper structural problems”?
The Somalia crisis is a perfect example of why there is a movement among youth and young adults to address world issues as a unified voice rather than as a representative of a country. It’s precisely why forums like this one exist.