Foreign Policy Blogs

Are Politics to Blame for the Deaths of 30,000 Children in Somalia?

Are Politics to Blame for the Deaths of 30,000 Children in Somalia? In July, the UN declared a famine in two regions of Southern Somalia, the first such announcement in the region since the infamous 1984 famine in Ethiopia. Somalia continues to find itself gripped tightly by starvation; the famine has claimed the lives of some 30,000 children in the last 3 months alone. More than 12 million people are still at risk of losing their lives to hunger.  In Somalia, it is women and children who bear the brunt of the famine. Children are susceptible to malnutrition that decreases their ability to fight off disease, while women are unable to access the services they need, while they carry the responsibility of caring for their families.

Why is Somalia plagued by such an extensive and severe famine?
Somalia’s plight, part of larger famine throughout much of the Horn of Africa, is not simply the result of drought or poor harvest.  The true cause of the famine is the combination of a number of many complex variables.  As seen in Kenya and Ethiopia, sever famines can be prevented in times of extreme drought, but it takes the will of the government and international community. Unfortunately, the strategies necessary to sustainably end famine are not easy, especially in a country like Somalia.  In Somalia, drought was the spark that lit the fire, however, the fuel that feeds the current troubles is that which has impacted so many historical famines: politics!  First of all, many aid organizations were issuing alerts long before the international community took notice.  Many believe famine in Somalia is largely a political creation, due to factions that have actively prevented food and other aid from reaching drought victims. The famine is centered in Southern Somalia, where a failing government sits idly by, yet parts of the country are controlled by al-Shabaab, a terrorist group with ties to al-Qa‘ida. The problem has been compounded as Kenya has been refusing to let people cross into northern Kenya to seek safety and aid.

What can you do?
Fighting famine as an individual seems impossible, and while scouring the cupboards for cans of soup and dry goods isn’t going to do anything for the children of Somalia, you can still make a lasting impact.  Right now what we need is your voice and has recently released a thought provoking video, in response to what they call an “obscenity.”  The video is joined by a petition directed at Congress asking them to, “help keep our commitment to farmers in developing countries by fully funding Feed the Future- a life-changing USAID initiative that is investing in long-term agricultural development and could help put an end to famine for good.”   The main objective of the program is to make sustainable investments in areas where success has been proven, such as early warning systems, irrigation, drought resistant seeds, and peace and security.

You can also donate to organizations who are directly working on the famine relief across the Horn of Africa such as: UNICEF, World Vision, International Rescue Committee, InternAction and Food for the Hungry

Please see my previous posts:
Somalia’s Child Refugees Bear the Burden, Africa’s Children: Famine and Drought, UN Allows for Sanctions in Somalia Against Violators of Children, When will eyes of hope cast a glance at Somalia?, Will we remember Somalia? and Have We Forgotten Somalia?, for more on the continuous plight of the country’s children.



Cassandra Clifford

Cassandra Clifford is the Founder and Executive Director of Bridge to Freedom Foundation, which works to enhance and improve the services and opportunities available to survivors of modern slavery. She holds an M.A., International Relations from Dublin City University in Ireland, as well as a B.A., Marketing and A.S., Fashion Merchandise/Marketing from Johnson & Wales University in Providence, Rhode Island.

Cassandra has previously worked in both the corporate and charity sector for various industries and causes, including; Child Trafficking, Learning Disabilities, Publishing, Marketing, Public Relations and Fashion. Currently Cassandra is conducting independent research on the use of rape as a weapon of war, as well as America’s Pimp Culture and its Impact on Modern Slavery. In addition to her many purists Cassandra is also working to develop a series of children’s books.

Cassandra currently resides in the Washington, D.C. metro area, where she also writes for the Examiner, as the DC Human Rights Examiner, and serves as an active leadership member of DC Stop Modern Slavery.

Areas of Focus:
Children's Rights; Human Rights; Conflict

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