News / Africa

    Foreign Military Actions Seen Worsening Somalia's Humanitarian Problems

    U.N. agencies, aid groups and analysts say foreign military actions currently taking place in Somalia are worsening humanitarian problems for victims of the ongoing famine.

    In a report issued this week, the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs said it was deeply concerned over the potential impact of the escalating conflict in southern Somalia, where, since last month, Kenya’s military has been fighting against al-Shabab Islamic extremists.

    The agency said the hostilities were threatening the lives of those already in crisis.

    Because of Kenyan aerial strikes into al-Shabab strongholds, Africa analyst with the Washington-based Atlantic Council, J. Peter Pham says many famine victims are unable to reach aid camps across the border in Kenya.

    “They are now blocked in an area without food but no way of crossing over to where they might get some relief so in the short term, it is really going to increase the hardships,” Pham said.

    Even though rains have started up again, aid workers from the British-based group Oxfam say that farmers are too afraid to go to their fields to plant seeds which were given to them.

    Kenya’s military has said it is going after al-Shabab in reprisal for a series of cross-border kidnappings. It is calling on Somali civilians to stay away from al-Shabab fighters.

    Al-Shabab has denied a role in the kidnappings, and is trying to use the current Kenyan operations as a way to boost its own recruiting.

    Somalia’s Transitional Federal Government which is supported by African peacekeepers initially opposed the Kenyan action, but then said it was behind it if the aim was to destroy al-Shabab.

    Richard Downie with the Center for Strategic and International Studies in Washington says he hopes the Kenyan military incursion does not end up like Ethiopia’s own military effort to wipe out Islamic militants in Somalia several years ago.

    “I think the longer it stays in Somalia, the bigger the risk becomes. We saw this back in 2006 when Ethiopia invaded Somalia. It was not very clear on its long term military objectives.  It hung around for too long and it sparked a major insurgency which we are still having to deal with today,” Downie said.

    The U.S. State Department has designated Al-Shabab as a terrorist organization since 2008.

    Ken Menkhaus, a Somalia expert at Davidson College in the United States, also sees a potential problem with U.S. drone attacks, which are being launched into southern Somalia from a base in Ethiopia.

    “They had better be confident that they are targeting extremely important top Shabab or al-Qaida figures or they risk actually producing more problems than they solve,” Menkhaus said.

    Menkhaus says with the region still reeling from its worst drought in 60 years, he would hope policy makers would focus first on the humanitarian situation.

    “When you have got a humanitarian crisis of this magnitude, we need to be devoting all of energies temporarily toward saving lives. These other objectives can be put on the back-burner temporarily while we do all we can to make sure that as many Somalis survive this terrible drought as possible,” Menkhaus said.

    In July, the United Nations declared parts of southern Somalia as famine zones.  U.N. officials say famine has claimed the lives of tens of thousands of Somali children.

    In addition to the conflict, U.N. officials say heavy rains and al-Shabab fighters have also been restricting access to aid.  They say food aid is getting to just over half of the four million Somalis who need it.

    The U.N. Children’s Fund is warning more than 150,000 acutely malnourished children under the age of five in Somalia could die within weeks.

    You May Like

    Video As Refugees Perish, Greek Graveyards Fill

    Before burial at overflowing cemeteries, unidentified dead being swapped for DNA, in case some day relatives come to learn their fate

    Russian Opposition Leader Sues Putin for Conflict of Interest

    Alexei Navalny tells VOA in exclusive interview why transfer of $2 billion from country’s wealth fund to company with ties to President Putin’s son-in-law triggered lawsuit

    Clinton, Sanders Fight for African American Votes

    Some African American lawmakers lining up to support Clinton in face of perceived surge by Sanders in race for Democratic nomination in presidential campaign

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

    By the Numbers

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    As Refugees Perish, Greek Graveyards Filli
    X
    Hamada Elsaram
    February 11, 2016 8:01 PM
    Aid workers on the Greek island of Lesbos say they are struggling to bury the increasing number of bodies of refugees that have been recovered or washed up ashore in recent months.  The graveyards are all full, they say, yet as tens of thousands of people clamor to get out of Syria, it is clear refugees will still be coming in record numbers. For VOA, Hamada Elrasam reports from Lesbos, Greece.
    Video

    Video As Refugees Perish, Greek Graveyards Fill

    Aid workers on the Greek island of Lesbos say they are struggling to bury the increasing number of bodies of refugees that have been recovered or washed up ashore in recent months.  The graveyards are all full, they say, yet as tens of thousands of people clamor to get out of Syria, it is clear refugees will still be coming in record numbers. For VOA, Hamada Elrasam reports from Lesbos, Greece.
    Video

    Video To Fight Zika, Scientists Target Mosquitoes

    Mosquitoes strike again. The Zika virus outbreak is just the latest headline-grabbing epidemic carried by these biting pests, but researchers are fighting back with new ways to control them. VOA's Steve Baragona takes a look.
    Video

    Video Mosul Refugees Talk About Life Under IS

    A top U.S. intelligence official told Congress this week that a planned Iraqi-led operation to re-take the city of Mosul from Islamic State militants is unlikely to take place this year. IS took over the city in June 2014, and for the past year and a half, Mosul residents have been held captive under its rule. VOA's Zana Omar talked to some families who managed to escape. Bronwyn Benito narrates his report.
    Video

    Video Scientists Make Progress Toward Better Diabetes Treatment, Cure

    Scientists at two of the top U.S. universities say they have made significant advances in their quest to find a more efficient treatment for diabetes and eventually a cure. According to the International Diabetes Federation, the disease affects more than 370 million people worldwide. VOA’s George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video NATO to Target Migrant Smugglers

    NATO has announced plans to send warships to the Aegean Sea to target migrant smugglers in the alliance's most direct intervention so far since a wave of people began trying to reach European shores.
    Video

    Video Russia's Catholics, Orthodox Hopeful on Historic Pope-Patriarch Meeting

    Russia's Catholic minority has welcomed an historic first meeting Friday in Cuba between the Pope and the Patriarch of Russia's dominant Orthodox Church. The Orthodox Church split with Rome in 1054 and analysts say politics, both church and state, have been driving the relationship in the centuries since. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports from Moscow.
    Video

    Video Used Books Get a New Life on the Streets of Lagos

    Used booksellers are importing books from abroad and selling them on the streets of Africa's largest city. What‘s popular with readers may surprise you. Chris Stein reports from Lagos.
    Video

    Video After NH Primaries All Eyes on South Carolina

    After Tuesday's primary in New Hampshire, US presidential candidates swiftly turned to the next election coming up in South Carolina. The so-called “first-in-the-South” poll may help further narrow down the field of candidates. Zlatica Hoke reports.
    Video

    Video US Co-ed Selective Service Plan Stirs Controversy

    Young women may soon be required to register with the U.S. Selective Service System, the U.S. government agency charged with implementing a draft in a national emergency. Top Army and Marine Corps commanders told the Senate Armed Services Committee recently that women should register, and a bill has been introduced in Congress requiring eligible women to sign up for the military draft. The issue is stirring some controversy, as VOA’s Bernard Shusman reports from New York.
    Video

    Video Lessons Learned From Ebola Might Help Fight Zika

    Now that the Ebola epidemic has ended in West Africa, Zika has the world's focus. And, as Carol Pearson reports, health experts and governments are applying some of the lessons learned during the Ebola crisis in Africa to fight the Zika virus in Latin America and the Caribbean.
    Video

    Video Smartphone Helps Grow Vegetables

    One day, you may be using your smartphone to grow your vegetables. A Taipei-based company has developed a farm cube — a small, enclosed ecosystem designed to grow plants indoors. The environment inside is automatically adjusted by the cube, but it can also be controlled through an app. VOA's Deborah Block has more on the gardening system.
    Video

    Video Illinois Voters Have Mixed Emotions on Obama’s Return to Springfield

    On the ninth anniversary of the launch of his quest for national office, President Barack Obama returned to Springfield, Illinois, to speak to the Illinois General Assembly, where he once served as state senator. His visit was met with mixed emotions by those with a front-row seat on his journey to the White House. VOA's Kane Farabaugh reports.
    Video

    Video Exhibit Turns da Vinci’s Drawings Into Real Objects

    In addition to being a successful artist, Renaissance genius Leonardo da Vinci designed many practical machines, some of which are still in use today, although in different forms. But a number of his projects were never realized — until today. VOA’s George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video Heated Immigration Debate Limits Britain’s Refugee Response

    Compared to many other European states, Britain has agreed to accept a relatively small number of Syrian refugees. Just over a thousand have arrived so far -- and some are being resettled in remote corners of the country. Henry Ridgwell reports on why Britain’s response has lagged behind its neighbors.
    Video

    Video Russia's Car Sales Shrink Overall, But Luxury and Economy Models See Growth

    Car sales in Russia dropped by more than a third in 2015 because of the country's economic woes. But, at the extreme ends of the car market, luxury vehicles and some economy brands are actually experiencing growth. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports from Moscow.