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

Will Cuba Follow the Southeast Asia Model?

Decision to restore ties between US and Cuba has some debating whether it will lead to enhancement or regression of democracy for Communist island nation More

Kenyan Designer Finds Her Niche in Fashion Industry

‘Made in China’ fabrics underlie her success More

Report: CIA, Israel's Mossad Killed Senior Hezbollah Commander

The Washington Post story says Imad Mughniyah was killed instantly by a bomb "triggered remotely" from Tel Aviv by Mossad agents 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.
Jefferson's Library Continues to Impress, 200 Years Lateri
X
Deborah Block
January 31, 2015 12:12 AM
Two hundred years after the U.S. Congress purchased a huge collection of books belonging to former President Thomas Jefferson, it remains one of America’s greatest literal treasures and has become the centerpiece of Washington’s Library of Congress. VOA’s Deborah Block reports.
Video

Video Jefferson's Library Continues to Impress, 200 Years Later

Two hundred years after the U.S. Congress purchased a huge collection of books belonging to former President Thomas Jefferson, it remains one of America’s greatest literal treasures and has become the centerpiece of Washington’s Library of Congress. VOA’s Deborah Block reports.
Video

Video Egypt's Suez Canal Dreams Tempered by Continued Unrest

Egypt plans to expand the Suez Canal, raising hopes that the end of its economic crisis may be in sight. But some analysts say they expect the project may cost too much and take too long to make life better for everyday Egyptians. VOA's Heather Murdock reports.
Video

Video Threat of Creeping Lava Has Hawaiians on Edge

Residents of the small town of Pahoa on the Big Island of Hawaii face an advancing threat from the Kilauea volcano. Local residents are keeping a watchful eye on creeping lava. Mike O’Sullivan reports.
Video

Video Pro-Kremlin Youth Group Creatively Promotes 'Patriotic' Propaganda

As Russia's President Vladimir Putin faces international pressure over Ukraine and a failing economy, unofficial domestic groups are rallying to his support. One such youth organization, CET, or Network, uses creative multimedia to appeal to Russia's urban youth with patriotic propaganda. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports.
Video

Video Filmmakers Produce Hand-Painted Documentary on Van Gogh

The troubled life of the famous 19th century Dutch painter Vincent van Gogh has been told through many books and films, but never in the way a group of filmmakers now intends to do. "Loving Vincent " will be the first ever feature-length film made of animated hand-painted images, done in the style of the late artist. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Issues or Ethnicity? Question Divides Nigeria

As Nigeria goes to the polls next month, many expect the two top presidential contenders to gain much of their support from constituencies organized along ethnic or religious lines. But are faith and regional blocs really what political power in Nigeria is about? Chris Stein reports.
Video

Video Rock-Consuming Organisms Alter Views of Life Processes

Scientists thought they knew much about how life works, until a discovery more than two decades ago challenged conventional beliefs. Scientists found that there are organisms that breathe rocks. And it is only recently that the scientific community is accepting that there are organisms that could get energy out of rocks. Correspondent Elizabeth Lee reports.
Video

Video Paris Attacks Highlight Global Weapons Black Market

As law enforcement officials piece together how the Paris and Belgian terror cells carried out their recent attacks, questions are being asked about how they obtained military grade assault weapons - which are illegal in the European Union. As VOA's Jeff Swicord reports, experts say there is a very active worldwide black market for these weapons, and criminals and terrorists are buying.
Video

Video Activists Accuse China of Targeting Religious Freedom

The U.S.-based Chinese religious rights group ChinaAid says 2014 was the worst year for religious freedom in China since the end of the Cultural Revolution. As Ye Fan reports, activists say Beijing has been tightening religious controls ever since Chinese leader Xi Jinping came to office. Hu Wei narrates.
Video

Video Theologians Cast Doubt on Morality of Drone Strikes

In 2006, stirred by photos of U.S. soldiers mistreating Iraqi prisoners, a group of American faith leaders and academics launched the National Religious Campaign Against Torture. It played an important role in getting Congress to investigate, and the president to ban, torture. VOA's Jerome Socolovsky reports.
Video

Video Former Sudan 'Lost Boy' Becomes Chess Master in NYC

In the mid-1980’s, thousands of Sudanese boys escaped the country's civil war by walking for weeks, then months and finally for more than a year, up to 1,500 kilometers across three countries. The so-called Lost Boys of the Sudan had little time for games. But one of them later mastered the game of chess, and now teaches it to children in the New York area. VOA’s Bernard Shusman in New York has his story.
Video

Video NASA Monitors Earth’s Vital Signs From Space

The U.S. space agency, NASA, is wrapping up its busiest 12-month period in more than a decade, with three missions launched in 2014 and two this month, one in early January and the fifth scheduled for January 29. As VOA’s Rosanne Skirble reports, the instruments being lifted into orbit are focused on Earth’s vital life support systems and how they are responding to a warmer planet.

Circumventing Censorship

An Internet Primer for Healthy Web Habits

As surveillance and censoring technologies advance, so, too, do new tools for your computer or mobile device that help protect your privacy and break through Internet censorship.
More

All About America

AppleAndroid