An SOS for Somalia

A dying nation has apparently been assured of a summit meeting.

The African Union’s decision to host a conference of continental leaders is appreciated, but it shouldn’t merely come as a media and academic exercise. The need of the hour is provision of succour to the people of Somalia who are facing the worst-ever drought in decades. The famine across the Horn of Africa is a test case of conscience not only for the African leaders but the world at large. The crisis is intensifying with each passing day and more than 12 million people in Somalia, Kenya, Djibouti and Ethiopia are living a life in misery and distress.

If aid agencies reports are any criterion, tens of thousands have already died and hundreds and thousands are starving. This despicable situation gets more compounded as collapse of law and order and lack of effective governmental machinery pushes the people on the brink. The Horn of Africa has a serious governance problem and could only be addressed if its social mosaic is dealt with on a war-footing basis. Temporarily feeding of mouths hasn’t solved the problem, as drought, famine and contagious diseases have been around for centuries. Apart from climatic change, as the region has been the worst-hit by global warming, the more to impact it adversely are real-politick considerations leaving little room for credible avenues of development.

Scrambling for power and resources and then intervening for fighting out militants, who had taken refuge in the Horn benefiting from its pathetic civil order, has literally unnerved the region. We have been here. This is why it is argued that before the situation gets out of proportion, the hungry mouths are in need of being fed and subsequently rehabilitated. The intervention process should not stop here, as has been the convention of aid agencies and concerned governments worldwide, but made to ensure that the root cause of the problem is addressed in totality.

The West has to revisit Africa. But this time around the intention should be to share the bounties of prosperity and not to fleece or bleed it. Whatever is happening in Somalia is just the tip of the iceberg, as there are many more flashpoints that are lawless to the core and at the same time deep in famine and desperation. The forthcoming summit should prove to be an SOS for a long-term solution.

Khaleej Times

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