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

Obama: Alaskans Feel Signs of Climate Change

They're seeing bigger storm surges as sea ice melts, more wildfires, erosion of glaciers, shorelines More

1855 Slave Brochure Starkly Details Sale of Black Americans

Document lists entire families that were up for sale in New Orleans, offering graphic insight into the slavery trade More

Katrina Brought Enduring Changes to New Orleans

The city’s recovery is the result of the people and culture the city is famous for, as well as newcomers and start-up industries 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.
Colombians Flee Venezuela as Border Crisis Escalatesi
X
August 27, 2015 2:08 AM
Hundreds of Colombians have fled Venezuela since last week, amid an escalating border crisis between the two countries. Last week, Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro ordered the closure of a key border crossing after smugglers injured three Venezuelan soldiers and a civilian. The president also ordered the deportation of Colombians who are in Venezuela illegally. Zlatica Hoke reports.
Video

Video Colombians Flee Venezuela as Border Crisis Escalates

Hundreds of Colombians have fled Venezuela since last week, amid an escalating border crisis between the two countries. Last week, Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro ordered the closure of a key border crossing after smugglers injured three Venezuelan soldiers and a civilian. The president also ordered the deportation of Colombians who are in Venezuela illegally. Zlatica Hoke reports.
Video

Video Is China's Economic Data Accurate?

Some investors say China's wild stock market gyrations have been made worse by worries about the reliability of that nation's economic data. And some critics say the reports can mislead investors by painting an unrealistically-strong picture of the economy. A key China scholar says Beijing is not fudging ((manipulating)) the numbers, but that the economy is evolving quickly from smoke-stack industries to services, and the ways of tracking new economic activity are falling behind the change. V
Video

Video Next to Iran, Climate at Forefront of Obama Agenda

President Barack Obama this week announced new initiatives aimed at making it easier for Americans to access renewable energy sources such as solar and wind. Obama is not slowing down when it comes to pushing through climate change measures, an issue he says is the greatest threat to the country’s national security. VOA correspondent Aru Pande has more from the White House.
Video

Video Shipping Containers Provide Experimental Housing

Housing prices around the San Francisco Bay area are out of reach for many people, so some young entrepreneurs, artists and tech industry workers are creating their own houses using converted shipping containers. But as VOA's Mike O’Sullivan reports from Oakland, the effort requires ingenuity and dealing with restrictive local laws.
Video

Video Arctic Draws International Competition for Oil

A new geopolitical “Great Game” is underway in earth’s northernmost region, the Arctic, where Russia has claimed a large area for resource development and President Barack Obama recently approved Shell Oil Company’s test-drilling project in an area under U.S. control. Greg Flakus reports.
Video

Video Philippine Maritime Police: Chinese Fishermen a Threat to Country’s Security

China and the Philippines both claim maritime rights in the South China Sea.  That includes the right to fish in those waters. Jason Strother reports on how the Philippines is catching Chinese nationals it says are illegal poachers. He has the story from Palawan province.
Video

Video Technique May Eliminate Drill-and-Fill Dental Care

Many people dread visiting dentists because they're afraid of drills. Now, however, a technology developed by a British firm promises to eliminate the need for mechanical cleaning of dental cavities by speeding a natural process of tooth repair. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video China's Spratly Island Building Said to Light Up the Night 'Like A City'

Southeast Asian countries claim China has illegally seized territory in the Spratly islands. It is especially a concern for a Philippine mayor who says Beijing is occupying parts of his municipality. Jason Strother reports from the capital of Palawan province, Puerto Princesa.
Video

Video Ages-old Ice Reveals Secrets of Climate Change

Ice caps don't just exist at the world's poles. There are also tropical ice caps, and the largest sits atop the Peruvian Andes - but it is melting, quickly, and may be gone within the next 20 years. George Putic reports scientists are now rushing to take samples to get at the valuable information about climate change locked in the ice.
Video

Video French Experiment in Integrating Roma Under Threat

Plans to destroy France’s oldest slum have sparked an outcry on the part of its Roma residents. As Lisa Bryant reports from the Paris suburb of La Courneuve, rights groups argue the community is a fledgling experiment on integrating Roma who are often outcasts in many parts of Europe.
Video

Video Kenyans Turn to Agriculture for Business

Each year Kenyan universities continue to churn out graduates for the job market despite the already existing high rate of unemployment among youth in the country. Some of these young men and women have realized that agriculture can be as rewarding as any other business or job, and they are resorting to agribusiness in large numbers as a way of tackling unemployment. Rael Ombuor reports for VOA.
Video

Video First Women Graduate Elite Army Ranger School

Two women are making history for the U.S. Army by proving they are among the toughest of the tough. VOA's Carla Babb reports from Fort Benning, Georgia as 94 men and those two women rise as graduates of the difficult Ranger school.

VOA Blogs