Is it Al-Shabab or Drought Responsible for the Famine and Dying Children? By Abdullahi Hassan Mohamed

More than 13 Million people in the Horn of Africa are experiencing unprecedented and worst drought-induced starvation, in 60 years, according to the UN report. The Situation of humanitarian Crisis and its magnitude, is particularly precarious and dire for Somalia, where more than 3.7 Million Somalis, almost half of the Somali population have been exposed to acute famine and starvation, Following loss of their assets-livestock due to the combination of recurrent drought, the ruined consequences of the devastating civil war, which destroyed basic social and economic services and infrastructures, natural resources and absence of effective government in the war-ravaged country.

Where Somalia stood first in the annual list of the failed states’ ‘index’.
Consequently, United Nations has declared state of famine in Somalia, where malnutrition rate has reached at 50 percent, which is not acceptable to the international community.

So far, Forty Thousands of people have died and Thirty Thousands of the dead, are children under Five Years, while the majority of the rest are Women and aged people; as a result of the famine-induced malnutrition and starvation according to the UN report.This grave situation has been aggravated by Al-Shab’s intentional ban on food aid and other live-saving operations.

What is most frightening thing is that lives of hundreds of thousands of internally displaced Somali population and Somali refugees in Dadab and Dolo Ado Camps in Kenya and Ethiopia, are at risk, as a result of food shortages, malnutrition, infectious and respiratory diseases, absence of potable water, sanitation facilities, shelter, and lack of Medicines.

It has been learned that the security measures and bureaucratic bottlenecks are hampering overall humanitarian relief operations in Somalia.
Who is to blame for the humanitarian tragedy and continuing death of Somali children for starvation?

I think everybody would agree with me that Al-Shabab, is to blame directly for the appalling humanitarian crisis, continued death of children for starvation and collective punishment of the Somali population, by imposing a ban on aid agencies and preventing the affected people from leaving its controlled areas, so as to not get access to food, water and medicines, which are necessary for saving their lives.

What are the most shocking and saddest incidents in this regard are the unprecedented tragedies of two Somali Mothers who have ten and four children respectively. The former has buried eight of her children in short period, while the latter buried all four of her children in one tomb in one time, due to starvation and malnutrition, Following Al-Shabab’s ban on aid agencies.
Actually many sad and terrifying incidents of such kind are occurring on daily basis in Somalia. No doubt that the barbaric and criminal acts committed by Al-Shabab against the famine-affected population, are totally flagrant violations of human and civil rights of the Somali people.
Thus, the compassionate international community and philanthropic individuals have the moral and humanitarian obligation to save lives of hundreds of thousands of the famine-stricken populations in Somalia and refugee camps in Kenya and Ethiopia.

What are the advantages of starving the Somali population?
First of all, we should understand that Al-Shabab is facing, a number of financial, political, social and religious problems and predicaments, firstly, Al-shabab has lost its huge financial contributions and remittances from Somali communities and supporters in America, Europe, Middle East and Africa, as a result of the preventive various security measures taken by American Government, as well as the well coordinated exchange of intelligences and strong cooperation between America and those countries to stop and dry up Al-Shabab’s financial sources and its money laundering activities; on the basis of the common struggle against terrorism. The said cooperation has also succeeded in depriving Al-Shabab from potential suicidal youth bombers, through different mechanism for fighting terrorism, including awareness raising programmes for Somali teenagers and youths in America and Europe, in collaboration with parents, American and European Somali civil society and religious organizations.

Secondly, Al-Shabab is suffering from growing internal rifts, within the militant group, where it is divided in to two groups, Jahadists’ group and pragmatists camp; The sign of the said rift has been observed during released Al-Shabab’s contradictory statements on “lifting the ban on food aid, then denied it has not lift the ban”. It is clear that the Jahadists are not interesting in the humanitarian crisis which was created by them in Somalia, while the pragmatists desire to help the affected people gain access to food aid.
Obviously, the Jahadists who are led by the Al-Qaeda’s foreign operatives have the upper hand in the militant group. It is clear that the withdrawal of Al-Shabab from its positions in Mogadishu is another clear evidence of Al-Shabab’s weakening military capacity, due to financial constraints and existing rift within the extremist group.
Thirdly, Al-Shabab doesn’t have any support from all segments of the Somali people, owing to its brutal and dehumanizing policy for killing, amputating, torturing, terrorizing, starving, displacing and kidnapping the people, and as well as consequences of its blind involvement in ruining the country’s natural resources historical, cultural, social and religious heritages and shrines.

Remember, the aim of preventing hungry population from accessing to food aid, is to get many hungry children and teenagers to recruit them as soldiers and suicide bombers, by giving them handouts in return, so as to avoid paying regular salaries.
Note, it is a customary policy for militant group to engage in systematic use and recruitment of children of 8-17 years old, as soldiers and suicide terrorist bombers, through kidnapping children from schools, play grounds and homes. The extremist group is also forcing girls to marry its soldiers. Various local, regional and international human rights organizations have condemned and continue to condemn these gross human rights violations, committed by the militant group against the affected populations.

The Al-shabab’s deepening predicaments may offer a hope and opportunity for encouraging real national dialogue, which could put an end to the ongoing intractable conflict and the current humanitarian crisis in the war-ravaged country.

What are the viable alternative solutions to the ongoing intractable conflict and appalling humanitarian crisis in Somalia?

It is a plain fact that the ongoing humanitarian crisis is one of series of tragedies faced Somali people during the past two decades. And the international community’s backed Transitional Government (TFG), which is divided in to two camps of two Sharifes, is accused of engaging in deep rooted corruption and nepotism at all levels. Where Somali people lost confidence in the TFG due to abovementioned problems and TFG’s complete failure to deliver security and basic social services to the affected population. The TFG has also been accused of violating human rights of its citizens, through arbitrary arrests and detentions.

If the Somali politicians and leaders are really interesting in solving the man-made humanitarian crisis, and raging conflict in their country, they should first eradicate the deep rooted culture for corruption and quick richness practices, at the expense of the Somali people and nation.The TFG is required to determine to improve and defend the security of the famine-affected population.
I think political willingness commitment and deep patriotism by the part of the Somali leaders, and involvement of traditional and religious leaders and civil society organizations in the national reconciliation process, are prerequisite for achieving real peace, political settlement and national unity and ending the ongoing humanitarian crisis, through forming effective, viable and inclusive national unity government in Somalia.
There is no doubt that the Al-Qaeda induced conflict in Somalia would pose a dangerous security threats to the international community. Consequently the international community in general and U.S, and its western allies in particular, are required to give more and serious attention to the Somali conflict and humanitarian crisis, by providing meaningful development, technical, material, political and diplomatic aids, to TFG and African peace keeping forces in Somalia, with the objective of defeating Al-Shabab, and helping the affected populations in Somalia and Horn of Africa, recover from the crisis, through undertaking integrated livelihood and recovery programmes at village levels.

The writer can be reached at prosperity2000@hotmail.com

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