News / Africa

US Accused of Politicizing Somalia Famine Aid

Women and Children holding their pink tickets queue for the evening meal at the Dollo Ado transit center in Ethiopia, October 26, 2011.
Women and Children holding their pink tickets queue for the evening meal at the Dollo Ado transit center in Ethiopia, October 26, 2011.
Nico Colombant

The U.S. government is defending itself against new accusations that it has politicized aid to victims of Somalia’s ongoing famine, as well as failed to help the long-term situation in the conflict-wracked country.  U.S. officials blame the al-Qaeda linked al-Shabab group for restricting outside aid.

While the United States has been one of the world’s leading donors in trying to help ease the effects of the devastating drought in the Horn of Africa, critics are saying it has failed victims in Somalia.

Such criticism was made frequently at a forum in Washington called “Famine in the Horn: Assessing the U.S. Response.”

Bronwyn Burton is with the Atlantic Council. “There are still 750,000 people who still really need help urgently in Somalia or they are going to die and most of them are women and children, tiny babies who absolutely no role in the conflict that we are witnessing in Somalia," said Burton. "The thing I would like to point out here is that while we have important interests that are not humanitarian interests in the country, we in the United States have done a very poor job of managing those interests and balancing them against the humanitarian needs of the Somali people.”

Burton pointed out that the United States gave more money to Somalia in humanitarian assistance in 2008 when there was no famine, than in 2011 when there is a famine, but when al-Shabab controls lots of territory.

She called on the U.S. Africa military command, Africom, to play a role in helping deliver food in areas with security challenges.

Other criticism came from John Norris, from the Center for American Progress.  Norris said if the United States is really serious about helping people in Somalia, it should be serious about diplomatic efforts and figuring out a long-term solution. He said lots of money has been spent on humanitarian endeavors in perpetually unstable Somalia since the early 1990s, to little effect.

“How do we get off this hamster wheel of perpetual crisis and why are we in a position 20 years after Somalia was dominating headlines to find ourselves in a situation that is every bit if not more dire," said Norris. "I think that is because we have had a very hard time thinking down the chess board. We have been very willing as a country to spend hundreds of thousands of dollars, millions of dollars, billions of dollars in responding to Somalia but if you look at the amount of high-level diplomacy that has been directed toward it, it is a relative pittance.”

A representative for the U.S. government Nancy Lindborg, from the U.S. Agency for International Development, vigorously defended U.S. aid efforts, and said the problem was access to al-Shabab areas, not resources.

She said famine was being averted in other parts of Somalia, as well as Kenya and Ethiopia, because of cooperative authorities there and the success of development projects.

The U.S official wanted to focus on some of the positives, and said this crisis showed more and more countries and diverse organizations were now helping in such situations.

“More and more countries step up to this role of being humanitarian responders," said Lindborg. "We have the opportunity to help that feel more inclusive and cooperative. And so as you see, more Islamic groups and a huge Turkish response in Somalia, there is an opportunity to deepen our ways to cooperate together and use the imperative that they can bring to offer access.”

Panelists did agree ineffective security at refugee camps for civilians, and especially women, fleeing drought conditions, was a major concern. They also said the current Kenyan military operations into Somalia could worsen the immediate plight of drought victims in al-Shabab controlled areas.

Kenya sent troops into Somalia earlier this month following a series of cross-border kidnappings blamed on al-Shabab.

The radical Islamic group has waged a four-year campaign against Somalia’s United Nations and U.S.-backed government, which is widely viewed as corrupt and ineffective. Al-Shabab controls most of central and southern Somalia, including the only areas declared by the United Nations to be experiencing famine in the drought-ravaged Horn of Africa.

You May Like

Photogallery Pistorius Sentenced, Taken to Prison

Pistorius, convicted of culpable homicide in shooting death of girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp, will likely serve about 10 months of five-year sentence, before completing it under house arrest More

UN to Aid Central Africa in Polio Vaccinations

Synchronized vaccinations will be conducted after Cameroon reports a fifth case of the wild polio virus in its territory More

WHO: Ebola Vaccine May Be in Use by Jan.

WHO assistant director Dr. Marie Paule Kieny says clinical trials of Ebola vaccines are underway or planned in Europe, US and Africa 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.
After Decades of Pressure, Luxembourg Drops Bank Secrecy Rulesi
X
October 21, 2014 12:20 AM
European Union finance ministers have reached a breakthrough agreement that will make it more difficult for tax cheats to hide their money. The new legislation, which had been blocked for years by countries with a reputation as tax havens, was approved last week after Luxembourg and Austria agreed to lift their vetoes. But as Mil Arcega reports, it doesn’t mean tax cheats have run out of places to keep their money hidden.
Video

Video After Decades of Pressure, Luxembourg Drops Bank Secrecy Rules

European Union finance ministers have reached a breakthrough agreement that will make it more difficult for tax cheats to hide their money. The new legislation, which had been blocked for years by countries with a reputation as tax havens, was approved last week after Luxembourg and Austria agreed to lift their vetoes. But as Mil Arcega reports, it doesn’t mean tax cheats have run out of places to keep their money hidden.
Video

Video Kobani Refugees Welcome, Turkey Criticizes, US Airdrop

Residents of Kobani in northern Syria have welcomed the airdrop of weapons, ammunition and medicine to Kurdish militia who are resisting the seizure of their city by Islamic State militants. The Turkish government, however, has criticized the operation. VOA’s Scott Bobb reports from southeastern Turkey, across the border from Kobani.
Video

Video China Political Meeting Seeks to Improve Rule of Law

China’s communist leaders will host a top level political meeting this week, called the Fourth Plenum, and for the first time in the party’s history, rule of law will be a key item on the agenda. Analysts and Chinese media reports say the meetings could see the approval of long-awaited measures aimed at giving courts more independence and include steps to enhance an already aggressive and high-reaching anti-corruption drive. VOA’s Bill Ide has more from Beijing.
Video

Video US ‘Death Cafes’ Put Focus on the Finale

In contemporary America, death usually is a topic to be avoided. But the growing “death café” movement encourages people to discuss their fears and desires about their final moments. VOA’s Jerome Socolovsky reports.
Video

Video Ebola Orphanage Opens in Sierra Leone

Sierra Leone's first Ebola orphanage has opened in the Kailahun district. Hundreds of children orphaned since the beginning of the Ebola outbreak face stigma and rejection with nobody to care for them. Adam Bailes reports for VOA about a new interim care center that's aimed at helping the growing number of children affected by Ebola.
Video

Video Young Nairobi Tech Innovator on 'Track' in Security Business

A 24-year-old technology innovator in Nairobi has invented a tracking device that monitors and secures cars. He has also come up with what he claims is the most robust audio-visual surveillance system yet. As Lenny Ruvaga reports from the Kenyan capital, his innovations are offering alternative security solutions.
Video

Video Latinas Converting to Islam for Identity, Structure

Latinos are one of the fastest growing groups in the Muslim religion. According to the Pew Research Center, about 6 percent of American Muslims are Latino. And a little more than half of new converts are female. VOA’s Carolyn Presutti travelled to Miami, Florida -- where two out of every three residents is Hispanic -- to learn more.
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 North Carolina Emerges as Key Election Battleground

U.S. congressional midterm elections will be held on November 4th and most political analysts give Republicans an excellent chance to win a majority in the U.S. Senate, which Democrats now control. So what are the issues driving voters in this congressional election year? VOA National Correspondent Jim Malone traveled to North Carolina, one of the most politically competitive states in the country, to find out.
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.

All About America

AppleAndroid