Thursday, September 27, 2007

Somalia: Worse Than Darfur

I am always astonished at the amazing and bright colors that people in far away lands dress.

They are truly beautiful people, all of them, every single precious soul

Of course, I wonder why the Somalia story pops up all of a sudden, but....

Maybe you want to check a memory hole for context?

"Somalia Tallies the Plagues, Fearing What’s Next" by JEFFREY GETTLEMAN

JOWHAR, Somalia, Sept. 26 — The instant the sack of grain fell off the truck and thumped down on the ground, it was enveloped in a whirl of dust, fists and knees.

The crowd of hungry people, who had been baking for hours in the brutal heat at an emergency distribution center on Wednesday, were in no mood to negotiate. One man whipped out a footlong machete, another a dagger, a third a handgun, which he waved menacingly in the air.

“My food, my food, my food!” they all yelled, tussling over the sack.

It has been nine months since this country went through its biggest political change in 16 years, but surprisingly little has changed.

Hundreds of thousands of people are still on the verge of starvation, pirates still roam the seas, teenage gunmen still roam the streets, and the promise of a functioning government remains a vapor.

[Because of what the US did!

Somalia only in news when bombing for "CIA-Duh" or Islamists get too close to power!


The Transitional Federal Government of Somalia, a United Nations creation that was always considered a shaky, short-term compromise, was finally installed in Mogadishu, the capital, in December, but it, like many Somalis, is now teetering on the edge of survival. A raging insurgency has confined the government to a handful of heavily fortified buildings in Mogadishu, while the rest of the country suffers.

Jowhar, a town of donkey carts and dust storms about 50 miles north of Mogadishu, has been recently hit by a devastating mix of drought and floods, and a huge influx of needy people. The intensifying street fighting in Mogadishu has driven thousands from their homes and many showed up here, just when the local crops failed.

“There is nothing to eat,” said Binti Olo Ahmad, 40, who trudged out of the capital two weeks ago with eight children and now lives in a tent made from twigs and garbage bags. She laughed a short, throaty laugh when asked if the anarchy of the 1990s, when warring clans tore Somalia apart after the central government collapsed, were any worse.

“No way,” she said. “I’ve never seen war like this.”

United Nations officials are increasingly concerned. All the signs of a famine are on the horizon: food prices have nearly doubled in some areas, the cereal harvest was the worst in 13 years, malnutrition rates are sharply rising and the long-term forecast indicates that the rains this fall will be disappointing.

“Thousands of people are marching right up to the edge of a crisis,” said Peter Goossens, the director of the World Food Program in Somalia. “Any additional little thing, any little flood or drought, will push them over.”

The World Food Program is feeding 1.2 million people in Somalia, more than 15 percent of the population. Already, some people have starved.

“This poor country keeps taking one blow after another,” Mr. Goossens said. “Ultimately, it will break.”

Many Somalis feel that has already happened. A multimillion-dollar clan-reconciliation conference ended last month, and some elders later traveled to Saudi Arabia to sign a ceremonial agreement. But the myriad clans are still not at peace, and even the transitional government is showing worrying cracks.

This week, Ali Mohamed Gedi, the prime minister, and Abdullahi Yusuf Ahmed, the president, got into a standoff over whether some of Mr. Gedi’s allies should face corruption charges. The two leaders are from rival clans, and some Somalis fear that unless the dispute is quickly resolved it could spell an end to the thin veneer of cooperation between the men and possibly turn into a clan war.

Government officials in Jowhar admit there are serious challenges. Ministries are not functioning, the transitional government is running out of money and all the recent turmoil has created overwhelming needs, said Hussein Hassan Mahamoud, the deputy governor in Jowhar.

“But we are trying,” he said. “We just need time.”

The question is, How much time is there before the insurgency causes such serious divisions in the government that it falls apart? On Sunday, more than a dozen government soldiers were killed in a single raid. Hit-and-run attacks like this one started when Ethiopian troops invaded in December to oust an Islamist movement that had briefly ruled much of the country and to shore up the transitional government, which has never enjoyed a lot of support. Now the Islamists have regrouped in the thickly forested areas of southern Somalia, where they operate with virtual impunity. Mogadishu, meanwhile, has become a Baghdad-like mess of suicide bombs, roadside bombs and assassinations.

This month the insurgents, a mix of clan and Islamist militias, held their own reconciliation conference in Asmara, Eritrea. They formed the Alliance for the Reliberation of Somalia, a movement openly dedicated to overthrowing the transitional government.

[That's why the Somali suffering reappears, not because the racist, Zionist Times cares about the starving and suffering of black people.

Otherwise, the stories would never go away, and they would stop shoveling so much political shit on their pages!]

Not all the country is up in flames, though. Jowhar is relatively stable. Girls flock to school in bright yellow veils. Battered old taxis glide down the streets. Tensions like the ruckus over the sack of grain that fell off the food aid truck are usually solved the Somali way.

[You know what? That's a GREAT IDEA!!!!!


Without SHITHOLE INTERFERENCE from the fucking United States of Amurka or stinkfuck Israel!]

As soon as the man yanked out his pistol, three heavily armed militiamen in wraparound sunglasses surrounded him. Facing superior firepower, the pistol-wielder smiled, shook his head and tucked his gun back into his waistband.

The sack of grain was then tossed back on the truck, which sputtered on, like most of this country."

"Somalia's humanitarian crisis escalates; Malnutrition, disease rage amid civil war" by Edmund Sanders/Los Angeles Times September 27, 2007

JOWHAR, Somalia - Five months old and weighing less than 10 pounds, Shukri Mohammed stretched her tiny mouth to scream when a health worker measured her limp arm for malnutrition.

But scarcely a sound escaped from the baby's throat, and she sank back exhausted into her mother's arms.

It's been a struggle since the day Shukri was born. The next morning, her mother walked three days to escape shelling in Mogadishu that had killed her husband. Now settled with her mother in a displacement camp in Jowhar, north of Mogadishu, Shukri is likely to die quickly unless admitted to a hospital.

[As the tears roll, I wonder what the fuck kind of world is it when WE ALLOW LITTLE BABIES TO DIE?!?!

Whatever it is, it is the kind of world to which I OBJECT!!!!!]

As attention focuses on the Darfur region of Sudan, Somalia is quietly disintegrating into Africa's worst humanitarian emergency, according to analysts.

Last week, John Holmes, United Nations emergency coordinator, said conditions in Somalia had eclipsed those in Darfur and Chad as the most pressing African humanitarian crisis. Malnutrition and disease are soaring in Somalia amid political insecurity and a string of natural disasters, including flooding and drought.

With many Western charities afraid to work in the dangerous country, the transitional government is struggling to cope but lacks experience and funding. Recently, aid groups contend, the government exacerbated the crisis by attempting to tax incoming humanitarian assistance, setting up roadblocks that hinder food deliveries, and intimidating charities and the displaced by accusing them of supporting terrorists.

[Yup, the government AmeriKa installed after it ran out the peace-loving, liberating Islamics!

Did you go down the
memory hole, reader?]

About 350,000 Somalis remain refugees from fighting earlier this year in Mogadishu between government soldiers, supported by thousands of Ethiopian troops, and an insurgency consisting of antigovernment clans and Islamist fighters. About 1.5 million people require humanitarian aid, an increase of 50 percent in recent months.

Malnutrition rates are skyrocketing
. About 17 percent of children nationwide, or 83,000, are malnourished, according to UNICEF. Some 13,500 children, including Shukri, are so severely malnourished that they are at risk of starvation.

After 16 years of civil war and clan fighting, Somalis are accustomed to hardship. There hasn't been a fully functioning government since 1991. But the displacement crisis and natural disasters are pushing the emergency to a new level and into new areas.

[Are you fuckin' shitting me? Who the hell ever gets "accustomed" to hardship?

If you fight back, you are what, a "TERRORIST?"

What shit reporting!]

Jowhar had long been an island of stability and agricultural prosperity in southern Somalia. Now, the nation's breadbasket requires food assistance itself for the first time since a nationwide famine from 1991 to 1993. Nearly 8,700 children are at risk of starvation, according to UNICEF.

"Around here we've never seen this," said Owliyo Moalim, 44, a mother of five, as she lined up Monday with hundreds of other local women to receive a World Food Program distribution of corn, beans, and oil.

Her family used to harvest crops every three months, but consecutive floods have prevented harvesting since October 2005, she said.

Somalia is also paying the price of years of anarchy, some residents said.

In the village of Boodle, south of Jowhar, children escaped the heat Tuesday by splashing in a giant lake. But the newly created body of water sits atop the flooded ruins of the town's crops, immersed two months ago when the banks of the Shabelle River overflowed after years of neglect and erosion.

"We tried to maintain the banks, but it requires bulldozers and tractors," said Hamdi Musei Osman, chief of the village. "When we had a government, they would do it. But we can't do it ourselves."

[We sort of know how that feels here in AmeriKa, too.

Let's see, flooding, fires, Katrina, bridges, need I go on, readers?]

More than 22 villages, with about 8,000 people, have been affected. The food is running out, and many children show early signs of malnutrition, including swollen limbs and orange-tinted hair. Fifteen have been hospitalized in the past month for malnutrition, Osman said. The stagnant water is also causing a surge in malaria, which has killed nine villagers in the past two months.

[The children, the children! Oh, the poor young ones!

An indictment of humanity, folks!]

Government officials say they are overwhelmed. After seizing control of Mogadishu in December from an alliance of Islamist leaders, officials have struggled to maintain control. Though regional administrations and federal ministries have been established, they lack funding, equipment, and experience.

"We don't have the power and the resources to manage this kind of crisis," said Qamar Adan Ali, Somalia's health minister. "We even depend on foreign donors for our salaries."

Critics accuse some government officials of aggravating the problem through such resoundingly criticized ideas as the tax on humanitarian aid, which was dropped early this year amid protests. Nonetheless, scores of government checkpoints still dot the roads, often charging $500 before allowing food trucks or aid vehicles to pass.

The United States has provided $120 million in humanitarian aid to Somalia in the past 12 months.

Foreign aid groups also have been slow to respond, to UNICEF's Somalia representative, Christian Balslev-Olesen. Several well-known charities, both from Western countries and the Arab world, do not maintain operations in Somalia, largely because of the ongoing violence. Last week, a driver for the Somali Red Crescent Society was shot during a hijacking by three gunmen.

But, Balslev-Olesen said, the need for additional international aid agencies is critical."

[Naw, we'd rather spend billions on war and killing, rather than feeding little babies!]