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

    Former US Envoys Urge Obama to Delay Troop Cuts in Afghanistan

    Keeping troop levels up during conflict with both Taliban and Islamic State is necessary to support Kabul government, they say

    First Lady to Visit Africa to Promote Girls' Education

    Michele Obama will be joined by daughters and actresses Meryl Streep and Freida Pinto

    Video NYSE Analyst: Brexit Will Continue to Place Pressure on Markets

    Despite orderly pricing and execution strategy at the New York Stock Exchange, analyst explains added pressure on world financial markets is likely

    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.
    Brexit Vote Plunges Global Markets Into Uncharted Territoryi
    X
    June 24, 2016 9:38 PM
    British voters plunged global markets into unknown territory after they voted Thursday to leave the European Union. The results of the Brexit vote, the term coined to describe the referendum, caught many off guard. Analysts say the resulting volatility could last for weeks, perhaps longer. Mil Arcega reports.
    Video

    Video Brexit Vote Plunges Global Markets Into Uncharted Territory

    British voters plunged global markets into unknown territory after they voted Thursday to leave the European Union. The results of the Brexit vote, the term coined to describe the referendum, caught many off guard. Analysts say the resulting volatility could last for weeks, perhaps longer. Mil Arcega reports.
    Video

    Video Orlando Shooting Changes Debate on Gun Control

    It’s been nearly two weeks since the largest mass shooting ever in the United States. Despite public calls for tighter gun control laws, Congress is at an impasse. Democratic lawmakers resorted to a 1960s civil rights tactic to portray their frustration. VOA’s Carolyn Presutti explains how the Orlando, Florida shooting is changing the debate.
    Video

    Video Tunisian Fishing Town Searches for Jobs, Local Development Solutions

    As the European Union tries to come to grips with its migrant crisis, some newcomers are leaving voluntarily. But those returning to their home countries face an uncertain future.  Five years after Tunisia's revolution, the tiny North African country is struggling with unrest, soaring unemployment and plummeting growth. From the southern Tunisian fishing town of Zarzis, Lisa Bryant takes a look for VOA at a search for local solutions.
    Video

    Video 'American Troops' in Russia Despite Tensions

    Historic battle re-enactment is a niche hobby with a fair number of adherents in Russia where past military victories are played-up by the Kremlin as a show of national strength. But, one group of World War II re-enactors in Moscow has the rare distinction of choosing to play western ally troops. VOA's Daniel Schearf explains.
    Video

    Video Experts: Very Few Killed in US Gun Violence Are Victims of Mass Shootings

    The deadly shooting at a Florida nightclub has reignited the debate in the U.S. over gun control. Although Congress doesn't provide government health agencies funds to study gun violence, public health experts say private research has helped them learn some things about the issue. VOA's Carol Pearson reports.
    Video

    Video Trump Unleashes Broadside Against Clinton to Try to Ease GOP Doubts

    Recent public opinion polls show Republican Donald Trump slipping behind Democrat Hillary Clinton in the presidential election matchup for November. Trump trails her both in fundraising and campaign organization, but he's intensifying his attacks on the former secretary of state. VOA National Correspondent Jim Malone reports.
    Video

    Video Muslim American Mayor Calls for Tolerance

    Syrian-born Mohamed Khairullah describes himself as "an American mayor who happens to be Muslim." As the three-term mayor of Prospect Park, New Jersey, he believes his town of 6,000 is an example of how ethnicity and religious beliefs should not determine a community's leadership. Ramon Taylor has this report from Prospect Park.
    Video

    Video Internal Rifts Over Syria Policy Could Be Headache for Next US President

    With the Obama administration showing little outward enthusiasm for adopting a more robust Syria policy, there is a strong likelihood that the internal discontent expressed by State Department employees will roll over to the next administration. VOA State Department correspondent Pam Dockins reports.
    Video

    Video Senegal to Park Colorful ‘Cars Rapide’ Permanently

    Brightly painted cars rapide are a hallmark of Dakar, offering residents a cheap way to get around the capital city since 1976. But the privately owned minibuses are scheduled to be parked for good in late 2018, as Ricci Shryock reports for VOA.
    Video

    Video Florida Gets $1 Million in Emergency Government Funding for Orlando

    The U.S. government has granted $1 million in emergency funding to the state of Florida to cover the costs linked to the June 12 massacre in Orlando. U.S. Attorney General Loretta Lynch announced the grant Tuesday in Orlando, where she met with survivors of the shooting attack that killed 49 people. Zlatica Hoke reports.
    Video

    Video How to Print Impossible Shapes with Metal

    3-D printing with metals is rapidly becoming more advanced. As printers become more affordable, the industry is partnering with universities to refine processes for manufacturing previously impossible things. A new 3-D printing lab aims to bring the new technology closer to everyday use. VOA's George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video Big Somali Community in Minnesota Observes Muslim Religious Feast

    Ramadan is widely observed in the north central US state of Minnesota, which a large Muslim community calls home. VOA Somali service reporter Mohmud Masadde files this report from Minneapolis, the state's biggest city.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora