I am also at fault. I haven’t said anything here about the crisis in Somalia yet. It is perhaps for this reason, this understanding that I’ve been struggling with in recent days, that I struggle to write this post. I have been wanting for weeks to say something about the inestimable suffering that is taking place among our sisters and brothers in East Africa due to drought and famine, particularly in the abjectly poor and violence-stricken nation of Somalia. I haven’t known where to begin, but I’ve come to realize that saying nothing is far worse than saying at least something imperfectly. For those who don’t know, and I surmise that there are quite a few people in our Country that do not know about the horrible tragedy that is taking place as we stand about in the post-industrial world quibbling about the blame attributable to this or that political caucus or debating the value of investing in gold as a commodity over an industry stock.

People are starving. And dying. And most of them are children. Thousands of children.

It’s interesting that every January hundreds of people gather in the US Capital to protest the legalization of abortion in the US, but so many of these people who carry placards denouncing the would-be killing of unborn babies, so many of the politicians that ride that wave of religious empathy to legislative office, have said and done so little about the death of so many real-life babies. Thousands of young children have slipped off into death because there is simply no food to keep them alive. I recently heard a first-hand account broadcast from Kenya on Vermont Public Radio of a young man who watched his two-month-old sister lose consciousness and die from starvation.

The Associated Press published, more than a month ago, this report citing a United Nations official.

The head of the U.N. refugee agency said Sunday that drought-ridden Somalia is the “worst humanitarian disaster” in the world after meeting with refugees who endured unspeakable hardship to reach the world’s largest refugee camp.

The Kenyan camp, Dadaab, is overflowing with tens of thousands of newly arrived refugees forced into the camp by the parched landscape in the region where Somalia, Ethiopia and Kenya meet. The World Food Program estimates that 10 million people already need humanitarian aid. The U.N. Children’s Fund estimates that more than 2 million children are malnourished and in need of lifesaving action.

This is perhaps one of the worst crises to face the human family in a very long time, yet there is almost no media coverage of this tragedy. The NPR website published a cartoon by Adam Zyglis of the Buffalo News that summarizes, if sardonically, the current state of the Western World’s response to the horror in Somalia today.

I am grateful to a friend for bringing this cartoon to my attention, I too had missed it. At this point, I have very little constructive advice. I’m not entirely sure what can be done, but I am disgusted by the lack of discourse directly related to the life-and-death needs of our sisters and brothers elsewhere. My thought at this point is that — for now, at least — I can direct those who read this blog regularly or come across it by chance some resources and locations from which they can get valuable information about the state of this unfolding tragedy. Here are a few news resources and links to aid organizations that are trying to assist those in need right now.

News Coverage of Crisis

Links to Nonprofit Aid Agencies Assisting in Somalia
These links above are just a sampling and a beginning. My hope is that we can rise to the occasion of assist our sister and brothers across the globe, not succumbing to the temptation to navel-gaze and focus on our problems that pale in comparison. In the meantime, while our financial and material assistance is necessary, so too are our prayers and thoughts. May those who are suffering and those who have died not do so forgotten by the rest of their global family.
Photos: USA Today; NPR

7 Comments

  1. Thanks for this. We often look away from things like this because we feel helpless. We can send money, which we should, but then we’re hearing that the aid isn’t getting to the people so we don’t know if what little we give them is actually helping. We need to talk about it and see the images and hear the tragic stories like the one you heard on the radio.

    But I want to also point out that those of us who fight for the lives of unborn children in America and around the world are not blind to the plight of, as you say, “real-life babies.” I’m sure you are aware that unborn children are real-life babies, too. Don’t belittle pro-life work. We need to preserve and protect human life at all stages–the unborn AND the children who are dying of starvation in Somalia.

    1. Thanks, Sharon. And you are correct, I am aware of the protection of life at all stages. In the spirit of parable (using parabolic language to shake up people’s world about the Kingdom), I wanted to get people’s attentions and really draw folks into the grave situation — it seems to have to worked, maybe a little. Our prayers are certainly with all those whose lives are taken far too soon, by famine or otherwise. Thanks for your comment.

  2. Br. Dan, i sent your message to about 500 people world wide with a this comment:

    Deserves to be read more widely.
    This blog is written by a friar at my alma mater.
    Feel free to repost his commentary.
    Feel free to comment on Br. Dan’s blog.
    pax – george

  3. I don’t feel this is entirely a fair assessment. As a nation, we do already send a considerable amount of our budget on foreign aid (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/United_States_foreign_aid#Recipients_of_US_Foreign_Aid). It’s not like the US doesn’t spend money in an attempt to aid other countries (an attempt that usually fails as the physical and financial relief is often reappropriated by corrupt and less than charitable government leaders in warlords in affected regions).

    Your juxtapositioning the Pro-Life movement with an issue on foreign aid seems like you’re trying to draw an analogy between a garage door opener and a bird. Yes, both Abortion and famine are ‘Bad Things.’ Abortion, however, is government-approved murder. Is it not something that should be protested? Changing this requires the SCOTUS to wake up and say, ‘Oh wait, killing is bad.’ (Included in this also would be euthanasia and capital punishment, of course).

    By contrast, famine in places such as East Africa is not so much a human created as human-exacerbated. Yes, we need to help, and as a nation, we are (billions of USD as of FY2009). Personally, I feel it is imprudent to merely throw money at a problem without addressing the fundamental concerns (drought, corruption, etc.), and without concern for those in our own nation suffering from hunger, homelessness, and lack of employment.

    Perhaps instead private charities should get involved and nations should withdraw themselves from this role until they can provide for their own.

    I’m not going to get into the idea that it would’ve been more prudent to spend that money on those suffering in our own home (country) first.

  4. I think, too, a lot of the lack of response here is the notion that if a person is poor or starving, it’s because they didn’t work hard enough. That sick philosophy is behind the whole “health and wealth” prosperity gospel that’s running amok around churches and political discourse here today.

    No joke, I actually had a Catholic argue with me that food isn’t a right.

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