Our world is facing various issues and most of those problems receive a lot of media coverage on a daily basis. Unfortunately, one issue and one geographical area appear to be mostly on the backburner. It is Africa and its population experiencing pangs of hunger daily. We have seen terrible pictures from Somalia showing the result of internal conflicts and a major drought in the country in 2011.
People starved to death; the international community did not take necessary steps to address the problem and the entire world watched the quarter of a million people, starved to death. There were certainly some who sought to find a solution for this problem; however, their efforts were not sufficient. The same circle is now loath to see these terrible pictures in Somalia once again, as the region has been hit by yet another drought, which is worse than ever.
The United Nations reported that due to the longstanding drought in Somalia, 305,000 children are malnourished and 58,300 children face death. According to the UN, nearly 40 percent of the population of 4.7 million people is in need of humanitarian aid, which has influenced the neighboring countries in the Horn of Africa.
In Ethiopia, more than 10 million people need food assistance because of a lack of rains while a state of emergency has been declared in the drought-hit areas of Zimbabwe. It is reported that the drought has been partly caused by El Nino affecting eastern and southern Africa.
While one million people in Somalia have been facing such kind of threat, the areas facing the very real threat in the country are the autonomous regions of Puntland and Somaliland. Drought in Somaliland has perished thousands of animals. The people, depending on animal husbandry, which is their only means of livelihood, are now unable to find anything to eat. The international aid organization Islamic Relief stated that some women on the verge of starving to death have been attacked by hyenas.
A non-profit aid organization, Save the Children, warns of severe malnutrition among children. Mary Griffin, a spokeswoman for Islamic Relief, stated that there was a “terrible sense of déjà vu” in the Horn of Africa due to the ongoing drought, which has hit the region after the disaster in 2011, and Hany El-Banna, the chairman of the Muslim Charities Forum said:
“We cannot wait like we did in 2011 when we acted too late. We need to deal with this today — if we don’t, this drought will turn into a famine.” Perpetually delivering aid to the region every year since the gloom and doom throughout the country in 2011, Turkey has sent a ship with nearly $8 million worth of aid to Somalia on May 8 and two more aid ships are expected to sail in the near future. Reports from Kenya, which is regarded as the mere shelter for many Somalis on the run, further add to the severity of the situation in Africa. In a statement by Kenya this week, it was announced that all of the refugee camps in the country would be closed and the department of Refugee Affairs would be dissolved.
The refugee camps of Kakima and Dadaab, likely to be closed down, have been providing housing to more than 600,000 refugees. With over 420,000 Somalis in the camp, Dadaab is considered as one of the largest refugee camps in the world. The refugees in the camp are generally people who fled the threat of terrorism in Somalia, Tanzania, Sudan and Ethiopia. The government would shut down the camps due to economic issues and the threat from the terror group Al-Shabaab.
Al-Shabaab poses a serious threat to Kenya. One of the major reasons that Al-Shabaab has been targeting Kenya is the involvement of the country in operations against radical groups within the African Union.
The government of Kenya has already become the target of the criticism by the human rights organizations. Kenya’s decision is “an abdication of its duty to protect the vulnerable and will put thousands of lives at risk,” said Muthoni Wanyeki, Amnesty’s regional director for East Africa, the Horn and the Great Lakes.
And, sure enough, a country, no matter what the conditions are, should adopt an indispensable principle to look out for the oppressed people. However, as things stand, it is a must to come up with a solution for Kenya and to provide not only monetary aids but also any other means to fight terrorism under the supervision of the international community.
Indeed, it should also be noted that any region where the fight against terrorism is carried out based on violence and armaments would be inevitably in the line of fire. Since, as it has been the case more often than not, this method is the main source of life for those who feed on violence. For that reason, it is of critical importance that Kenya should not stumble in the fight against terror like the entire world. When the country fulfills its duty to fight terror by means of providing “education”, the issue of terrorism will be radically resolved and the country will be free from the threats. A concerted campaign raise to awareness about these issues is very important to help resolve these serious problems. — The writer has authored more than 300 books translated into 73 languages on politics, religion and science.
— Courtesy Arab News