The ‘Worst Humanitarian Disaster’ About Which Too Few Are Talking
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
- The Huffington Post’s Ongoing Coverage
- CBS News Complete Coverage
- BBC News Complete Coverage
- TIME Magazine “For Somalis Fleeing Famine, A New Crisis at Refugee Camps.“
- TIME Magazine “Famine in Somalia: How Do You Feed Four Million Hungry People?“
- NYT “Somalis Starve as Shabab Militants Bar Escape from Famine.“
- The New Yorker complete coverage.
- NPR “Somalia: A Nation in Tatters“
- Action Aid USA
- American Jewish World Service
- Save the Children
- Mercy Corps
- International Rescue Committee
- Oxfam America
- World Food Programme
- World Vision
- Doctors Without Borders
- International Medical Corps
- Action Against Hunger
- Catholic Relief Services