The drought in the Horn of Africa that is causing a severe food shortage for 10 million people across the region should act as a rallying call for the international community to bring in food, shelter and supplies.
But is their fear of terrorism and the growing influence of Al-Qaeda in Somalia slowing these efforts?
The UN has requested $545 million in aid for the stricken country but only 50% of this total has so far been pledged by the international community. The Fund for Peace, that only last week ranked Somalia as No. 1 in its failed state index for the fourth year in a row, said the country is a danger due to “widespread lawlessness, ineffective government, terrorism, insurgency, crime, abysmal development and piracy.”
When asked about the U.S. administrations foreign aid intentions Joint Chiefs of Staff Admiral Michael Mullen said “we will be sending less money, because we have less money” but it clear to many observers that the U.S. is reluctant to send more aid money to Somalia for fear that it will fall into the hands of terrorists.
This is a legitimate concern, however, the international community must stop thinking of aid spending simply as a hand-out and think about it in the context of a wider foreign policy, and anti-terrorism strategy.
Yes it is a leftie view, but helping countries like Somalia during a time of crisis could help to foster better relations between impoverished peoples and the rich western countries that, let’s face it, could do with an image overhaul in many parts of the world.
Sending food, shelter and supplies would stop people looking for these essentials from well-financed terrorist elements that have infiltrated the country.
And it is the right thing to do. People are starving and if politics truly does stop at the water’s edge then there should be no dispute as to the morality of sending aid, no matter what the arguments on Capitol Hill.
There are no military strategies to solve the problem of failed states, only humanitarian solutions. It is time the international community woke up to this and get on with the job of helping those in need.