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ANOTHER DISASTER STRIKES SOMALIA AGAIN
COMMENTARY

BY M.M. Afrah©

Every now and then life throws a curve ball at Somalia.
Disaster strikes the country again, and the world community, as we know it, drag its feet to help the drought-stricken people of Somalia. It seems to have come to a sudden halt. Drought combined with unending clan warfare blows the people in a larger scale, effecting thousands and even millions of the long suffering people.

Such is the case when severe drought struck several regions in Somalia and the Somali inhabited Northern Frontier Province (NFP) of Kenya.

The footage stunned the world as the media shared the events with many Somali websites in the Diaspora in the weeks that followed the appalling event. We grieved as the death climbs. We expected an overwhelming response from the world community, for the most part from the oil-rich countries in the Arab world, but they refused to open their fat wallets to do whatever they could to assist the survivors, even after Al-Jazeera showed the extend of the drought. In its prime time footage, it showed the few surviving ones who lost something they can never get back-family, loved ones and livestock. Also several Western news agencies, like Reuters, AFP and others highlighted the plight of the victims, but as usual there were no response from the wealth countries.

I am certainly not fan of foreign aid, but there are all kinds of humanitarian agencies, or NGOs (Non-Governmental Organizations), that deal with disasters, give them emergency food aid, clean drinking water, temporary shelters and medication in order to create a health environment.

It should be remembered that Somalia has been prone to all kinds of disasters, drought, wars, man-made famine, cyclone and flooding since independence in 1960, but the civilian governments of the day, despite sucking up the gravy, and few blunders, they at least got it right by acting quickly and appealing to the world community for relief for the thousands struck by the notorious drought dubbed as Abaartii Daba-dheer.

The military regime led by General Mohamed Siyad Barre did more or less the same as soon as subsequent disasters hit the country.

Now the hare-brained "leaders" meeting in Baidoa, the City of Death, 1991/1993, relegated the prevailing drought in many regions of the country to the back burner and the survivors are left to die en mass.

There are, of course, points on which the NGOs and real citizens frequently rise-lack of security which hampers emergency food aid to the needy, after one of their expatriate workers was recently kidnapped near Af-madow by freelance gunmen. He was later released after local elders interceded.

We must raise awareness that tree cutting and coal burning are the root cause of the frequent recurring drought and famine in Somalia and the rest of the Horn of Africa. The coal-exporting czars are the ugly warts that suck millions of dollars at the expense of the already fragile environment, and continue incessantly to denude the country.

I was outraged after learning that gunmen loyal to one of the coal-exporting czars kidnapped a visiting environmentalist from the United Nation Environmental Program. He was later released, unharmed.
"I think this could be exceedingly disastrous slap on Somalia," says the UNEP official on arrival in Nairobi. "That the environment could be derailed by one individual is a strike against a country that's already reeling from wars and men-made famine," the UN official moaned.

The Transitional Federal Government had better take notice and correct this instead of squabbling over trivial matters. The irony of this is that while people are dying of hunger and lack of primary medical care in the drought effected regions, Kenya exports to Somalia the drug Qaad or khat and cigarettes as well as expired medicines worth more than 50 million dollars annually. The Qaad and cigarette, like the coal-exporting czars, are laughing all the way to their Nairobi banks.

Along the way the Somalis in the Diaspora could make a lot of difference in their mother country by launching a competent and clan-free fund raising scheme. Of course, the monthly remittances to their families have been a welcome gesture, but they could also open their wallets to assist the drought-hit families in the process.

I urge the TFG and the legislators (some of them are the czars mentioned above) to find an end to their meaningless bickering and backbiting, and focus their attention fully on the drought victims.

It's time to accomplish results.

Commentary
By M.M. Afrah© 2006


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