For it to be a news story, there has to be a little bit of death where death is unexpected: like children in First World suburbia. Retail death. But for death in Darkest Africa to make a news story, given the value of life in the Dark Continent, it has to be a batch process. Wholesale death.
Which brings us to the latest grim stop on the decades-long Stations of the Cross that is the history of independent Somalia, a history that comprises nothing uplifting — just wars, civil wars, marginally-organized criminality, and death, death, death. So today’s news is just one fresh company-grade die-off in a nation that inflicts the Battle of the Somme on itself time and time again.
110 people have died from hunger in the past 48 hours in a single region as a severe drought threatens millions of people across the country.
It was the first death toll announced by Somalia’s government since it declared the drought a national disaster on Tuesday. The United Nations estimates that 5 million people in this Horn of Africa nation need aid, amid warnings of a full-blown famine.
Ah, yes. The poor Africans need aid. While this is certainly true, consider the history of passing that aid through the United Nations and other transgovernmental and non-governmental organizations. Seventy years of doing that has built many a bank skyscraper in Geneva and Liège. And the Africans are still pretty much as poor as Stanley or Livingstone ever found ’em.
Prime Minister Hassan Ali Khaire spoke during a meeting with the Somali National Drought Committee. The death toll he announced is from the Bay region in the southwest part of the country alone. Somalia was one of four regions singled out by the U.N. secretary-general last month in a $4.4 billion aid appeal to avert catastrophic hunger and famine, along with northeast Nigeria, South Sudan and Yemen. All are connected by a thread of violent conflict, the U.N. chief said.
$4.4 Billion, of which most will go to provide Good Jobs at Good Wages for UN bureaucrats… in places like New York and Geneva.
The U.N. humanitarian coordinator, Stephen O’Brien, was expected to visit Somalia in the next few days.
How did any humanitarian actions take place before the Event Horizon of humanitarian coordinators?
Bonus question: suggest the lowest probable annual income and net worth for the above-mentioned Stephen O’Brien. Express your answer in multiples of the annual per-capita GDP for Somalia.
Thousands have been streaming into Somalia’s capital, Mogadishu, in search of food aid, overwhelming local and international aid agencies. Over 7,000 internally displaced people checked into one feeding center recently.
“Feeding center.” Jeez, 1984 is here at last. Or maybe it’s Brave New World.
The drought is the first crisis for Somalia’s newly elected Somali-American leader, President Mohamed Abdullahi Mohamed. Previous droughts and a quarter-century of conflict, including ongoing attacks by extremist group al-Shabab, have left the country fragile. Mohamed has appealed to the international community and Somalia’s diaspora of 2 million people for help.
What kind of help?
Is it just us, or does it sound like Dueling Mohameds here has his hand out for money?
About 363,000 acutely malnourished children in Somalia “need urgent treatment and nutrition support, including 71,000 who are severely malnourished,” the U.S. Agency for International Development’s Famine Early Warning Systems Network has warned.
Because of a lack of clean water in many areas, there is the additional threat of cholera and other diseases, U.N. experts say. Some deaths from cholera already have been reported.
Experts. Where would we be without them?
The government has said the widespread hunger “makes people vulnerable to exploitation, human rights abuses and to criminal and terrorist networks.”
The U.N. humanitarian appeal for 2017 for Somalia is $864 million to provide assistance to 3.9 million people. But the U.N. World Food Program recently requested an additional $26 million plan to respond to the drought.
What percentage of that total $890 million will go to feed those 3.9 million people, and what percentage of it will be stacked up like gold teeth in the safekeeping of the gnomes of Zurich, on the personal accounts of various African politicians and UN/international doo-gooders, is another question entirely.