Somalians watch as food aid arrives for distribution (AP).

Somalia Entrenched in Cycle of Severe Famine

June 06, 2008 08:04 AM
by Sarah Amandolare
Chronically chaotic, Somalia once again falls victim to famine and Islamic extremism, but increased aid and an international peacekeeping presence could turn things around.

30-Second Summary

Millions of Somalis are at risk for starvation from food and water shortages, leaving them dependent on humanitarian aid, according to the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC).

Pascal Hundt of the ICRC’s Somalia delegation said, “The Somali people are going through unbearable hardship.”

Somalia appears stuck in a cycle of severe famine. From 1991 to 1993, the country’s ravaged crops resulted in the deaths of close to a quarter of a million people, and the displacement of nearly two million.

Recovery often seems hopeless for this war-torn nation in the horn of Africa, lacking a stable government and freckled with violent Islamic extremists. But some experts are advocating for increased foreign aid and peacekeeping troops in order to establish stability. They face an uphill battle.

In December 2006, turmoil boiled in Somalia after the Islamist movement at the helm of the country abandoned its bases in Mogadishu. Since then, a Transitional Federal Government has been in place, and has faced considerable challenges from opposition clans and Islamist terrorists.

In recent years, foreign aid workers have been targeted by Islamic extremists as revenge for U.S. air strikes aimed at terrorist suspects, prompting withdrawal of humanitarian organizations like Doctors Without Borders.

Somalia’s unrest is a huge deterrent, but without the presence of UN peacekeeping troops, the spiral of inhumanity may never end.

Headline Links: Famine resurfaces in Somalia

Background: Somalia’s shaky government

Related Topics: Foreign aid workers deterred

Opinion & Analysis: Instability and how to fix it

Reference: Somalia’s contemporary history


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