News / Africa

AU Blames International Indifference for Somalia Famine Deaths

Jean Ping (L), chairman of the Commission of the African Union, visits wounded Transitional Federal Government soldiers at the African Union Mission in Somalia Level II hospital, at the operation's headquarters in Mogadishu, Somalia, August 20, 2011. (fil
Jean Ping (L), chairman of the Commission of the African Union, visits wounded Transitional Federal Government soldiers at the African Union Mission in Somalia Level II hospital, at the operation's headquarters in Mogadishu, Somalia, August 20, 2011. (fil

An African Union report says many people are dying in famine-stricken Somalia because of international indifference to their plight. AU officials are urging the United Nations and the donor community to move quickly now that Somalia’s al-Qaida-linked militants are in retreat.

African Union Commission Chairman Jean Ping said Somalia’s famine is needlessly claiming lives that could have been saved if early famine warnings had been heeded.

In a report to the AU Peace and Security Council, however, Ping said recent security improvements in Mogadishu present a fresh opportunity to act on both the humanitarian and security fronts.

Aiding Somalis most in need

Briefing journalists after a council meeting Tuesday, Peace and Security Commissioner Ramtane Lamamra said he is encouraged by a surge in attention to Somalia, beginning with a U.N. Security Council meeting scheduled this week. He said the world body must take the lead in creating humanitarian corridors that would allow aid to reach Somalis trapped in the famine zone.

"It is politically necessary and technically doable. We need to put our minds together with a number of key players at the United Nations," said Lamamra. "U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon is convening a summit on Somalia on 23rd September and that would be the right place to consider all related issues. Humanitarian corridors are necessary given the risk of further degradation of the situation at the humanitarian level."

Lamamra said the Security Council should seize the moment created by last month’s retreat of al-Qaida-linked fighters from Mogadishu to take the kinds of action that could defeat the militants and allow distribution of life-saving food in the famine zone.

UN no-fly zone, maritime blockade

"We’ve been calling for more than a year for the U.N. Security Council to take steps to enforce a no-fly zone and maritime blockade in the territorial waters of Somalia," he said. "We… believe the time has come to take measures to implement those measures, which are likely to change the dynamics of the situation in Somalia. And also now that we have this pressing emergency in terms of assisting the people, they will not feel they are marginalized and are being ignored by the rest of the world."

Lamamra said five African countries are ready to send troops to Somalia to boost the AU’s AMISOM peace force from its current strength of 9,500 to 12,000 by the end of the year. He said the only thing preventing deployment of as many as 16,000 troops is the equipment, training and logistics, which must come from donors such as the United States and Europe.

"I think both Burundi and Uganda are ready to contribute the extra units that will take overall strength to 12,000, while Djibouti, Guinea-Conakry and Sierra Leone are also ready to provide troops," said Lamamra. "The pressing issue is for our traditional supporters, in terms of supplying equipment to move as fast as they could so battalions are properly trained and equipped for urgent deployment."

Adding reinforcements

Lamamra said improved security in Mogadishu highlights the need for deployment of international police units to replace AMISOM troops, who he said could then move forward to open up humanitarian corridors. He said a pledged battalion of Djiboutian police officers would be particularly welcome, since they can communicate with Somalis in their language.

The commissioner has in the past voiced disappointment at the world body’s failure to accept African recommendations aimed at defeating al-Shabab. But on Tuesday he expressed hope that this time, the urgency of the famine may finally tip the scales in favor of action that could not only save lives, but give Somalia’s feeble transitional government a chance to establish control after 20 years of anarchy.

You May Like

Photogallery Oxfam: Ebola Could Be 'Disaster of Our Generation'

Meanwhile, Fidel Castro, the former leader of Cuba, says the Caribbean island nation will 'gladly cooperate' with the US in the fight against Ebola in West Africa More

Multimedia Kobani Fighting Sends 400,000 Refugees to Turkey

Refugees receive help from Turkish authorities and individuals, but say much more is needed More

India’s Ruling Nationalist Party Makes Gains in Regional Elections

Bharatiya Janata Party’s huge margin over its rivals puts it on course to form governments in the northern Haryana and western Maharashtra states More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Exclusive: American Joins Kurds' Anti-IS Fighti
X
Zana Omer
October 18, 2014 6:37 PM
The United States and other Western nations have expressed alarm about their citizens joining Islamic State forces in Syria and Iraq. In a rare counterpoint to the phenomenon, an American has taken up arms with the militants' Syrian Kurdish opponents. Elizabeth Arrott has more in this exclusive profile by VOA Kurdish reporter Zana Omer in Ras al Ayn, Syria.
Video

Video Exclusive: American Joins Kurds' Anti-IS Fight

The United States and other Western nations have expressed alarm about their citizens joining Islamic State forces in Syria and Iraq. In a rare counterpoint to the phenomenon, an American has taken up arms with the militants' Syrian Kurdish opponents. Elizabeth Arrott has more in this exclusive profile by VOA Kurdish reporter Zana Omer in Ras al Ayn, Syria.
Video

Video South Korea Confronts Violence Within Military Ranks

Every able-bodied South Korean male between 18 and 35 must serve for 21 to 36 months in the country’s armed forces, depending upon the specific branch. For many, service is a rite of passage to manhood. But there are growing concerns that bullying and violence come along with the tradition. Reporter Jason Strother has more from Seoul.
Video

Video Comanche People Maintain Pride in Their Heritage

The Comanche (Indian nation) once were called the “Lords of the Plains,” with an empire that included half the land area of current day Texas, large parts of Oklahoma, New Mexico, Kansas and Colorado.The fierceness and battle prowess of these warriors on horseback delayed the settlement of most of West Texas for four decades. VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Lawton, Oklahoma, that while their warrior days are over, the 15,000 members of the Comanche Nation remain a proud people.
Video

Video Turkey Campus Attacks Raise Islamic Radicalization Fears

Concerns are growing in Turkey of Islamic radicalization at some universities, after clashes between supporters of the jihadist group Islamic State (IS) or ISIS, and those opposed to the extremists. Pro-jihadist literature is on sale openly on the streets of Istanbul. Critics accuse the government of turning a blind eye to radicalism at home, while Kurds accuse the president of supporting IS - a charge strongly denied. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video Syrian Defector Leaks Shocking Photos of Torture Victims

Shocking photographs purporting to show Syrian torture victims are on display at the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington. The museum says the graphic images are among thousands of photographs recently smuggled out of Syria by a military policeman-turned-defector. As VOA reporter Julie Taboh reports, the museum says the photos provide further evidence of atrocities committed by the government of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad against its own people.
Video

Video Drought-Stricken California Considers Upgrading Water System

A three-year drought in California is causing a water shortage that is being felt on farms and cities throughout the state. As VOA's Mike O’Sullivan reports, water experts, consumers and farmers say California needs to make changes to cope with an uncertain future.
Video

Video TechShop Puts High-tech Dreams Within Reach

Square, a business app and card reader, makes it possible to do credit card transactions through cell phones. But what made Square possible? VOA’s Adrianna Zhang and Enming Liu have the answer.
Video

Video Church for Atheists Goes Global

Atheists, by definition, do not believe in God. So they should have no need of a church. But two years ago, a pair of British stand-up comedians decided to create one. Sanderson Jones and Pippa Evans told the BBC they envisioned “something like church but without God". Their “Sunday Assembly” movement has grown from a single congregation in London to dozens of churches around the world. Reporter Mike Osborne visited with the members of a Sunday Assembly that now meets regularly in Nashville.
Video

Video Robot Locates Unexploded Underwater Mines

Many educators believe that hands-on experience is the best way to learn. Proving that the method works is a project developed by a group of students at the Stevens Institute of Technology, in Hoboken, New Jersey. They rose up to a challenge posted by the U.S. Department of Defense and successfully designed and built an underwater robot for locating submerged unexploded ordnance. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Liberia's JFK Hospital Reopens After Temporary Ebola Exposure

JFK Hospital is Liberia’s largest and one of its oldest medical facilities. The hospital had to close temporarily following the deaths of two leading doctors from Ebola. It is now getting back on its feet, with the maternity ward being the first section to reopen. Benno Muchler has more for VOA News from Monrovia.
Video

Video Hong Kong Protests Expose Generation Gap

Most of the tens of thousands of protesters in Hong Kong are students seeking democracy. Idealistic youths say while the older generation worries about the present, they are fighting for the territory's future. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports from Hong Kong.
Video

Video Liberians Living in US Struggle From Afar as Ebola Ravages Homeland

More than 8,000 Liberians live in New York City, more than in any other city outside of Liberia itself. As VOA’s Bernard Shusman reports, with the Ebola virus ravaging their homeland, there is no peace of mind for these New Yorkers.
Video

Video Kurds See War-Ravaged Kobani As Political, Emotional Heartland

Intense fighting is continuing between Islamic State militants -- also known as ISIS or ISIL -- and Kurdish forces around the Syrian town of Kobani, on the Turkish border. The U.S. said it carried out at least nine airstrikes against Islamic State positions Friday. Meanwhile the U.N. has warned that hundreds of civilians would be massacred if the town falls to the militants. Henry Ridgwell looks at the strategic significance of the city.

All About America

AppleAndroid