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 A famine in Somalia, and a chronic political failure........ 
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Post A famine in Somalia, and a chronic political failure........
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A famine in Somalia, and a chronic political failure on humanitarian aid
By Bill Shore, Updated: Wednesday, August 3, 5:34 AM

This piece is part of a leadership roundtable on U.S. foreign aid, in light of the crisis in Somalia — with opinion pieces by Sen. John Kerry, Fletcher School Professor Astier M. Almedom, Share Our Strength Founder Bill Shore,Wharton School Professor Stuart Diamond, and Executives Without Borders CEO Robert Goodwin.

Twenty-seven years ago this month, a headline in the Washington Post warned that 200,000 were likely to perish from famine in Ethiopia. It prompted me to call my sister Debbie and urge that we try to do something about it. We had both worked in the presidential campaign of then Colorado Senator Gary Hart. But the 1984 Democratic convention had just nominated Walter Mondale. We ended up starting an organization, Share Our Strength, to fight hunger internationally and in the U.S. We were out of work, but not out of ideas or ideals.

Today the world is bearing witness to the horrors of another famine in the Horn of Africa. This past weekend, Debbie e-mailed me that “we gotta do something for those facing starvation and walking 100 miles from Somalia to Kenya.” Could it be that in nearly three decades, little has changed? Are there not better early warning systems and strategies for stockpiling food supplies? Have there not been improvements in agriculture and development to reduce the severity of such shortages?

There has been much progress over the years, but one thing hasn’t changed: Humanitarian relief efforts still require vast amounts of private support when governments across the globe fail to respond sufficiently. That represents a chronic and collective failure of political leadership. It is an especially sad statement about the strength, vision, independence and courage of those we entrust to help navigate America through a dangerous and troubled world.

As if those struggling to stay alive needed any more misfortune, the current famine in East Africa intersects squarely with the U.S. debt ceiling crisis. As a result, the U.S. political establishment is in no mood to meet even the most urgent need with increased assistance. In fact the House Appropriations Subcommittee on Foreign Operations approved legislation to make deep cuts in foreign assistance spending. Two programs critical to alleviating suffering among the women and children who are victims of Africa’s famine – the Migration and Refugee Assistance Program and the Disaster Assistance Program – would both be cut by tens of millions of dollars.

Almost by definition, leaders help others to get somewhere that they would otherwise not get on their own. That means having the courage to be out in front of them, and the wisdom to advocate for investments that may not pay off until the long term.

Humanitarian organizations have become skilled in the art of moving individuals to contribute in the immediate aftermath of an earthquake, tsunami or famine. But the greater need is for national leaders willing to use some political capital to marshal support for the long-term efforts that might prevent disaster in the first place. It is our political leaders, not our nongovernmental organizations, that are in the best position to educate citizens on the relationship between this long-term development and our economic and national security interests.

When our government forfeits that role, sometimes to Angelina Jolie, Sean Penn and other celebrity activists, no matter how well-intentioned and generous their philanthropy may be, we forfeit our claim to moral leadership in a complex and interconnected world.

Another thing that never changes from one tragic famine to the next is that the most vulnerable around the world remain the most voiceless. Their distance, invisibility and struggle to simply stay alive preclude the kind of political action to which Congress, in other circumstances, might typically respond. The victims of famine belong to no organizations, make no campaign contributions and, with few exceptions, have no lobbyists.

A situation such as the one in East Africa demands compassion, far-sightedness and generosity of spirit from a nation and its leaders – a lot more than Washington was able to muster during the current debt ceiling debacle. But those are the qualities of leadership required for any group trying to find its place in the world in a way that is sustainable and truly worth living.

Bill Shore is founder and executive director of Share Our Strength, an organization working to end childhood hunger in America.

http://www.washingtonpost.com/national/ ... story.html


How can a civilized species allow this to happen to each other?

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August 3rd, 2011, 12:00 pm
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Post Re: A famine in Somalia, and a chronic political failure....
TheRealWags wrote:
How can a civilized species allow this to happen to each other?


Great question Wags and this is very sad indeed. I think, once again, we tend to opt for handouts - give them food and water. To quote a Chinese proverb - Give a man a fish and you feed him for a day. Teach a man to fish and you feed him for a lifetime.

The last paragraph says, "East Africa demands compassion, far-sightedness and generosity of spirit from a nation" - but IMO the most compassionate and generous thing we can do is use far-sightedness and teach them how to take care of themselves in a sustainable fashion. Just like at home, you only mask the problem with handouts - they must become accountable to themsleves or the problems only get worse over time.

Charities (like govt's) need to become focused on sustainable solutions, not short term handouts. Otherwise, these Africans continue to remain the "most vulnerable" and "most voiceless".

Long term problems require long term solutions. Call me heartless, but it is a pattern drives me crazy because it is history repeating itself and we can't seem to learned from the failed policies of the past.

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August 3rd, 2011, 12:21 pm
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Post Re: A famine in Somalia, and a chronic political failure....
Easy question to answer...politicians are not a part of civilization. Politicians are the reason there are wars, the reason there is poverty and the reason why 95% of the corruption in the world exists.

Look at Jamaica....beautiful island, people that live there are wonderful. Their politicians on the other hand are nothing but criminals.

I've often considered that the pirates in Somalia are doing what they can because they have no other choice. But they've gone from just trying to make a dishonest living to being terrorists responsible for the murder of innocents. They've become no different than the politicians that make their country an impossible place to live and survive.

Politicians set themselves above their countrymen. That's what makes them UNcivilized.

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August 3rd, 2011, 12:31 pm
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Post Re: A famine in Somalia, and a chronic political failure....
Here's a question that relates, and I'm not trying to hijack this, so don't start pursuing the religious aspect.

When disasters come, Christians tend to respond in force with money, time and effort. In the Sudan, Christians did the same in the south, but is the Muslim community which has money hand over fist doing anything like that? They already control the area in a religious sense, but are they pumping millions of dollars, and expending the time and effort?

This is another case in point that highlight what is wrong with the thinking today. GOVERNMENT is not going to get it done! Government is impersonal, cold, and unfeeling, where as people who care to get involved are personally related and involved. This world is relying upon government to answer their needs for food, housing, medical, etc. and these governments can not and will not get it done.

Does anyone know how involved the U.N. is at actually delivering and distributing food aid to Somalia, instead of empty rhetoric?

Oh and don't the "pirates" receive millions of dollars from their criminal actions, are they doing anything to help their own country? Just asking

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August 4th, 2011, 8:56 am
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Post Re: A famine in Somalia, and a chronic political failure....
The UN could do their job for once...

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August 4th, 2011, 9:42 am
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Post Re: A famine in Somalia, and a chronic political failure....
steensn wrote:
The UN could do their job for once...


Whoa, whoa there........don't you know the UNs job is to make the rest of the world realize that the United States is the source of all their problems, and that the freedoms we enjoy are against their "world vision"?

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August 4th, 2011, 10:38 am
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Post Re: A famine in Somalia, and a chronic political failure....
Well... I do now...

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August 4th, 2011, 11:56 am
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Post Re: A famine in Somalia, and a chronic political failure....
And 90% of the UN's troops are American soldiers...


August 4th, 2011, 12:26 pm
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Post Re: A famine in Somalia, and a chronic political failure....
njroar wrote:
And 90% of the UN's troops are American soldiers...


As of June, 107 of the UN's 83,400 troups were American. But I guess 1/10th of 1% is pretty close to 90%... 8)

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August 4th, 2011, 12:37 pm
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Post Re: A famine in Somalia, and a chronic political failure....
Exactly WHY does the UN need a branch of armed forces? Ever ask yourself that question?

They have no territory or natural resources to protect. They have no citizens to defend against an invading force.

So why the hell to these egotistical power mongers have a fighting force at their disposal?

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August 4th, 2011, 12:52 pm
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Post Re: A famine in Somalia, and a chronic political failure....
Pablo wrote:
njroar wrote:
And 90% of the UN's troops are American soldiers...


As of June, 107 of the UN's 83,400 troups were American. But I guess 1/10th of 1% is pretty close to 90%... 8)


Yeah, I'm a little behind the times. My mind's still in the 90's. With Iraq and Afghanistan, we pulled all our troops for the time being.


August 4th, 2011, 1:01 pm
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Post Re: A famine in Somalia, and a chronic political failure....
AlJazeera wrote:
UN makes historic Somali aid drop
UNHCR airlifts drought supplies into Mogadishu for first time in five years after fighters abandon capital.
Last Modified: 08 Aug 2011 18:56

The United Nations' refugee agency has flown aid into the war-torn capital of Somalia for the first time in five years, as the country battles with a devastating famine.

The flight left from Dubai on Monday morning with 31 metric tons of emergency supplies and arrived in Mogadishu that afternoon, according to Andy Needham from the office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR).

He said there would be another two aid flights to Mogadishu - one on Thursday and another next week.

"The reason why we are doing this emergency airlift today is that because of the unprecedented situation, the massive levels of displacement of people by drought and famine into Mogadishu," Needham said from the tarmac of the airport in Mogadishu.

More than 12 million people in the Horn of Africa are in need of immediate food aid, including nearly half of Somalia's population.

The UN has declared five famine zones in Somalia, including the camps for displaced people in Mogadishu, the capital.

Famine can be declared only when certain measures of mortality, malnutrition and hunger are met. They are: at least 20 per cent of households in an area face extreme food shortages with a limited ability to cope; acute malnutrition rates exceed 30 per cent; and the death rate exceeds two persons per day per 10,000 persons.

Security concerns

"The situation is better in the Somali capital, where about half the city's 600,000 inhabitants are receiving aid," Mark Bowden, the UN's top humanitarian official for Somalia, said on a visit to Mogadishu on Monday.

Transport and security are the two main problems, he said, and it is unclear what the effect will be of the withdrawal of al-Shabab fighters from their bases in the capital on Saturday.

There have been several serious gunfights at aid distributions recently, and at least 10 people have been killed.

The African Union peacekeeping mission in the country has said it is confident that al-Shabab will not return to the capital.

The group was driven out of the area during heavy fighting on Friday night but it has vowed to change tactics and stage a comeback, though the AU has dismissed this as propaganda.

Biden visit

Amid the crisis, the US is preparing to announce $100 million in new famine aid.

To highlight the crisis, the wife of US vice-president Joe Biden visited a refugee camp on a patch of desert in eastern Kenya where tens of thousands of Somalis have massed.

A drought has turned into famine because little aid can reach the al-Shabab-controlled south-central of the country.

Jill Biden is the highest-profile US visitor to East Africa since the number of refugees coming across the Somali border dramatically increased in July.

More than 29,000 children under the age of five have died in the last 90 days in southern Somalia alone, according to US estimates.

The UN says 640,000 Somali children are acutely malnourished; suggesting the death toll of small children will rise.

USAID administrator Raj Shah, who accompanied Biden, said hundreds of thousands of children could die from the famine.

South Africa assists

The UN Office for the Co-ordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA), said that the appeal for funds to respond to the hunger crisis in the Horn of Africa region - including Ethiopia, Somalia, Kenya and Djibouti - are only 44 per cent covered, with an additional $1.4bn still required to cover unmet needs.

An estimated 12.4 million people in the entire region are in need of assistance, according to OCHA.

The South African government has donated about $290,000 (2 million rands) in food and monetary aid, said Clayson Monyela, the spokesman for the South African department of international relations and co-operation.

He said the country had developed a "co-ordinated and multi-pronged response" to the famine, which included working with the South African department of agricultural affairs to ask farmers to get involved in relief efforts.

Gift of the Givers, a South African-based humanitarian organisation, has also arrived in Somalia to assist with the crisis.

The team comprising of 20 medics and 12 journalists was part of an entourage that brought specialised paediatric ready-to-drink milk supplements, intravenous fluids, antibiotics, malaria medication, and other medical supplies.

http://english.aljazeera.net/news/afric ... 57878.html

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August 8th, 2011, 4:08 pm
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Post Re: A famine in Somalia, and a chronic political failure....
Just a note, the famine is also touching parts of Ethiopia and Kenya... both unable to really assist their own people. Somolia is hit hardest because many of the people are nomadic and can't be tracked for giving aid. Most of Kenya and Ethiopia are settled in villages, but it only helps tracking their needs. This is an area that I feel the world needs to assist. Either by finding better locations for people to live, transferring technology to build an infrastructure as we did in the west of the US that can send water to where it is needed, adoption, food aid, etc. Just sending food is actually hurting the locals as they cannot then survive on selling of the product.

As well, we all should be aware of fair trade coffee instead of letting the big companies make all the bank selling the poor laborers coffee. They produce 3-4% of the worlds coffee (actually a large % for a country) and their farmers don't see enough to live. Fair trade transitions the profit from the middle man (exporters) to the farmers through a co-op. I know it is easy to forget about it when faced with the price at the store... but it is worth the extra few cents to dollar to ensure the masses get enough food to eat. Anyone with Netflix check out http://www.blackgoldmovie.com/ if you really want to know what goes on with your coffee... if you have a heart you'll change your habits.

Africa will only prosper if we can transition technology. 1900's technology could save them and produce a large economy that would benefit the world...

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August 8th, 2011, 4:25 pm
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Post Re: A famine in Somalia, and a chronic political failure....
No, Africa's problem is corruption. They're used to a tribal system, which most still use even in a city society, and the wealth and power is held by very few. No matter how much aid or how much money we give, it only strengthens those in power. The aid and money has to go through the leadership that is causing the atrocities in the first place. When the UN does step in, they move people to refugee camps, but those then get taken over by the same cycle of corruption.

Nothing will change in those nations until the people stand up for themselves and redo everything.


August 8th, 2011, 6:20 pm
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Post Re: A famine in Somalia, and a chronic political failure....
I cannot argue with corruption... but not every single country is that way which shows the problem is bigger than just that.

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August 8th, 2011, 6:50 pm
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