At a time where many Muslims are embarking on the fasting month of Ramadan, where many people will not be eating during daylight hours, it is important to put to one side the message of British social mobility that our site promotes to discuss the drought and subsequent famine in the Horn of Africa. A problem on an unimaginable scale, where human beings like you and I have died and will continue to die. A problem that doesn’t register in the minds of many in the West, specifically the younger generations, and which doesn’t even make the top ten “read” stories on the BBC News website.
Perhaps I am being unfair. Britons have in fact donated £42m to the aid effort, though we are still over 50% short of the UN international target of £1.5bn. 10.7 million people are in desperate need of humanitarian assistance. In the most base and harrowing language possible, to get any attempt at a relative scale, it would be comparable to the entire city of London, its suburbs and estuaries being food insecure. These people need literal help, or they will die.
Some people are in fact so desperate to escape the famine that they are now heading in their droves to the hellfire of Mogadishu, a city where power is constantly changing hands, and a war has been ongoing for almost two decades. A place probably left off the maps of any budding “travellers” who wish to broaden cultural horizons during gap years and the like.
So what can be done? Firstly, any monetary aid, or food shipments etc. will of course only be short-term solutions. This problem is one of entrenched inequality which can be attributed to a number of key players across the pond in the States, to us and the never-ending hangover of our colonial rape of the continent as a whole, to Europe and its antiquated CAP. However, long-term solutions need to be thrashed out by African governments in due course, with help (in an economic sense) from the G20 in dropping African debt. The glorified international loan shark (known to the West as the IMF) need not get involved. They are not a long-term actor.
In the meantime, aid has to arrive now. This becomes a major problem when the militant Islamist group Al-Shabab prove to be an immovable and stubborn obstacle. Al-Shabab controls much of Somalia, and the UN’s flagship World Food Programme (WFP) has had to withdraw from Al-Shabab controlled areas in the past, in large part fuelled by death threats etc. This immense tragedy in the Horn of Africa should be met with an overwhelming and united show of humanism. Whether Christian or Muslim or Atheist, the pictures of the malnourished children, the desperate mothers, the crying fathers… they should be sufficient to push an “enough is enough” attitude and to do whatever possible to end this tragedy, if only for the short term.
I just wish it was more of a prevalent issue in the minds of the youth in the UK, as I am sure it dominates the minds of many Somalian children.