FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

Ground Your Warplanes, Save the Horn of Africa

“When you are hungry, cold is a killer, and the people here are starving and helpless.” Not many of us can relate to such a statement, but millions of ‘starving and helpless’ people throughout the Horn of Africa know fully the pain of elderly Somali mother, Batula Moalim.

Moalim, quoted by the British Telegraph, was not posing as spokesperson to the estimated 11 million people (per United Nations figures) who are currently in dire need of food. About 440,000 of those affected by the world’s “worst humanitarian disaster” dwell in a state of complete despair in Dadaab, a complex of three camps in Kenya. Imagine the fate of those not lucky enough to reach these camps, people who remain chronically lacking in resources, and, in the case of Somalia, trapped in a civil war.

All that Batula Moalim was pleading for was “plastic sheeting for shelter, as well as for food and medicine.”

It is disheartening, to say the least, when such disasters don’t represent an opportunity for political, military or other strategic gains, subsequently, enthusiasm to ‘intervene’ peters out so quickly.

UN officials from the World Food Programme (WFP) are not asking for much: $500 million to stave off the effects of what is believed to be the worst drought to hit the Horn of Africa in 60 years. This is not an impossible feat, especially when one considers the geographic extent of the drought and creeping famine. Ethiopia, Somalia, Djibouti, Kenya are all affected, and terribly so. Sudan and Eretria are also not far from the center of this encroaching disaster.

60 percent of the amount requested by WFP has already been raised. More is needed, however, especially as the reverberation of the drought is already surpassing the immediate need for food and shelter. Five million are already at risk of cholera in Ethiopia alone, according to the World Health Organization (WHO). Hundreds have reportedly died, and many more are likely to follow.

Cholera requires an immediate remedy as the intestinal infection leads to sever diarrhea, dehydration and death. Other figures are equally grim. 8.8 million people, also in Ethiopia, are at risk of contracting malaria, according to Tarik Jasarevic, WHO spokesman. Jasarevic has also told journalists that these ailments have already been reported in Somalia, and other Ethiopian regions. This means the disaster is not confined to refugee camps and is thus much harder to control.

For refugees, there is nothing worse than having no safe haven in sight. Still, they must escape when death becomes the only alternative to aimless journeys. While hundreds of thousands are gathering in Kenya’s camps, an average of 1,700 Somali refugees venture to Ethiopia each day. The latter, a country with a population of about 85 million, is fully embroiled in the crisis. 4.5 million Ethiopians need assistance, a rise of over 50 percent in less than three months, according to WHO. One can only try to envisage the speed at which this disaster is unraveling.

International organizations, including WFP, WHO and UNICEF have made numerous appeals. Some major media outlets responded by giving the humanitarian crisis a degree of coverage. While donations have bashfully trickled in, the goals are yet to be reached. According to a report by the Telegraph, “no African country has offered a donation to help drought victims in the Horn of Africa outside of those affected.”

The report, published July 15, quoted Michael O’Brien-Onyeka, Oxfam’s Regional Campaigns Policy Manager for East and Central Africa, who said it was “disappointing” that “African states insist on ‘African solutions for African problems’ with regard to Libya but fail to respond to droughts and famines.”

On the subject of Libya, it may be helpful to consider some financial figures.

“The British Government has pledged ?38 million in food aid to Ethiopia,” reported the Telegraph. The following day, British Daily Mirror reported on the seemingly different subject of Libya. Four more British jets were recently deployed to the war zone near Libya, raising the total to 22 RAF jets, according to James Lyons in the Mirror (July 16). The cost thus far is ?260 million, only ?40 million short of the total amount needed by the WFP to feed 11 million starving people.

Here is another example of the dubious nature of British involvement in the war on Libya (falsely slated as a war to prevent imminent massacres of civilians): “Tornado GR4s cost around ?35,000 for every hour they are in the air and are having to fly long distances from their base in Gioia del Colle, southern Italy, to Libya,” according to the Mirror.

Major African countries and Britain are not the only parties involved in acts of duplicity. The US military adventurism in the Horn of African, especially Somalia, and its renewed use of costly unmanned drones can feed, cloth, shelter and treat countless refugees. More, Arab and Muslim countries tend to be the least responsive parties in such situations. While it is true that the chief of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC), Ekmeleddin Ihsanoglu made several appeals for help, such singular calls generate feel-good moments but no major mobilization for action.

The disaster in the Horn of Africa is partly man-made. Countries with ‘failed states’ status (in other words, victims of outside interventions) cannot possibly fend off crises of this magnitude. For the last 20 years, Somalia has had no central government controlling the country’s territories. Outside intervention has made it impossible for any party to unite the disjointed country. What is a Somali refugee to do?

To help the millions disaffected by the multilayered disaster in the Horn of Africa, we need more than appeals for blankets and food stuff. We also need a degree of human decency and common sense. We need to re-channel some of the funds wasted on disastrous wars into actually saving lives. If warning parties would ground their Tornado GR4s and other warplanes for a few days, the single action alone could save the entire region.

For now, though, let us all do what we can to help the Horn of Africa survive this terrible ordeal.

Ramzy Baroud is editor of PalestineChronicle.com. His work has been published in many newspapers and journals worldwide. His latest book is The Second Palestinian Intifada: A Chronicle of a People’s Struggle (Pluto Press, London). His newbook is, “My Father Was a Freedom Fighter: Gaza’s Untold Story” (Pluto Press, London).

 

More articles by:

Dr. Ramzy Baroud has been writing about the Middle East for over 20 years. He is an internationally-syndicated columnist, a media consultant, an author of several books and the founder of PalestineChronicle.com. His latest book is My Father Was a Freedom Fighter: Gaza’s Untold Story (Pluto Press, London). His website is: ramzybaroud.net

Weekend Edition
June 22, 2018
Friday - Sunday
Karl Grossman
Star Wars Redux: Trump’s Space Force
Andrew Levine
Strange Bedfellows
Jeffrey St. Clair
Intolerable Opinions in an Intolerant Time
Paul Street
None of Us are Free, One of Us is Chained
Edward Curtin
Slow Suicide and the Abandonment of the World
Celina Stien-della Croce
The ‘Soft Coup’ and the Attack on the Brazilian People 
James Bovard
Pro-War Media Deserve Slamming, Not Sainthood
Louisa Willcox
My Friend Margot Kidder: Sharing a Love of Dogs, the Wild, and Speaking Truth to Power
David Rosen
Trump’s War on Sex
Mir Alikhan
Trump, North Korea, and the Death of IR Theory
Christopher Jones
Neoliberalism, Pipelines, and Canadian Political Economy
Barbara Nimri Aziz
Why is Tariq Ramadan Imprisoned?
Robert Fantina
MAGA, Trump Style
Linn Washington Jr.
Justice System Abuses Mothers with No Apologies
Martha Rosenberg
Questions About a Popular Antibiotic Class
Ida Audeh
A Watershed Moment in Palestinian History: Interview with Jamal Juma’
Edward Hunt
The Afghan War is Killing More People Than Ever
Geoff Dutton
Electrocuting Oral Tradition
Don Fitz
When Cuban Polyclinics Were Born
Ramzy Baroud
End the Wars to Halt the Refugee Crisis
Ralph Nader
The Unsurpassed Power trip by an Insuperable Control Freak
Lara Merling
The Pain of Puerto Ricans is a Profit Source for Creditors
James Jordan
Struggle and Defiance at Colombia’s Feast of Pestilence
Tamara Pearson
Indifference to a Hellish World
Kathy Kelly
Hungering for Nuclear Disarmament
Jessicah Pierre
Celebrating the End of Slavery, With One Big Asterisk
Rohullah Naderi
The Ever-Shrinking Space for Hazara Ethnic Group
Binoy Kampmark
Leaving the UN Human Rights Council
Nomi Prins 
How Trump’s Trade Wars Could Lead to a Great Depression
Robert Fisk
Can Former Lebanese MP Mustafa Alloush Turn Even the Coldest of Middle Eastern Sceptics into an Optimist?
Franklin Lamb
Could “Tough Love” Salvage Lebanon?
George Ochenski
Why Wild Horse Island is Still Wild
Ann Garrison
Nikki Haley: Damn the UNHRC and the Rest of You Too
Jonah Raskin
What’s Hippie Food? A Culinary Quest for the Real Deal
Raouf Halaby
Give It Up, Ya Mahmoud
Brian Wakamo
We Subsidize the Wrong Kind of Agriculture
Patrick Higgins
Children in Cages Create Glimmers of the Moral Reserve
Patrick Bobilin
What Does Optimism Look Like Now?
Don Qaswa
A Reduction of Economic Warfare and Bombing Might Help 
Robin Carver
Why We Still Need Pride Parades
Jill Richardson
Immigrant Kids are Suffering From Trauma That Will Last for Years
Thomas Mountain
USA’s “Soft” Coup in Ethiopia?
Jim Hightower
Big Oil’s Man in Foreign Policy
Louis Proyect
Civilization and Its Absence
David Yearsley
Midsummer Music Even the Nazis Couldn’t Stamp Out
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail