Clinton Announces $17 Million in Aid to Somalia


As conditions worsen by the day in drought-ravaged Somalia, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton announced that the United States would provide $17 million in emergency food aid to the Horn of Africa, with $12 million allocated for humanitarian efforts in Somalia.  The aid pledge came after President Obama approved a $105 million relief package earlier this week, bringing total United States contributions to the famine crisis to $508 million.

Clinton, though, warned that a long-term solution is necessary, adding to other voices who wonder whether Western aid can really help Somalia.  ”Though food shortages may be triggered by drought, they are not caused by drought, but rather by weak or nonexistent agricultural systems that fail to produce enough food or market opportunities in good times and break down completely in the bad times,” she said.

In other words, while aid may be a temporary bandage for the dire conditions in Somalia, in the long run, negotiating with militant groups like al-Shabaab about how and when to contribute humanitarian relief could simply legitimize and enable their ongoing role as manipulative, violent opportunists.

Sarah Kenyon Lischer, a professor at Wake Forest University, warns of the dangers of unconditional support in a piece for the Huffington Post.  ”The aid – including Land Rovers, laptops, and satellite phones – can support a war economy if it is diverted by militants,” she writes.  ”Local and international workers face high risks of murder, abduction, and assault when working in such hostile areas. In the worst case, aid actually contributes to the prolongation of war and suffering.”

Other activists underscored the importance of prevention, especially with natural disasters like drought.  The first alert for worsening food conditions was put out a year ago by climate scientists, who say that cuts to programs like Food for Peace could hurt the international community’s already limited ability to act quickly in times of crisis.

Apart from showing that slashing our international aid budget is a bad idea, the crisis in Somalia also illustrates the need to acknowledge the deep disasters that can be caused by climate change.  Work to prevent a spiraling famine in a politically fragile area like the Horn of Africa should begin before, not after, the devastation begins.

Related Stories:

Militants Stop Aid from Reaching Dying Somali Citizens

Somalia is Dying. Why Don’t We Care?

Women Raped as the Food Crisis Expands in East Africa

Photo from Oxfam East Africa via flickr.

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Lynda H.
Lynda Harrison4 years ago

How very generous of this Government to give to another country who will, no doubt, be in a similar situation a few years down the road, money the U.S. has borrowed at a high rate of interest. Is that their version of financial fitness?

Elizabeth K.
Elizabeth K.4 years ago

Wow Jane, hard to answer to that one.

Kate plus 8?


15 Kids and Counting?

Stones and glass houses and all that.

Jane R.
Jane R.4 years ago

Yes they need help!! However they should stop breeding like rats. Not all of these starving children came to be from rape!!

ana p.
ana p.4 years ago

$17millions : 310millions inhabitants of the USA = $ 0,05483871


ana p.
ana p.4 years ago


S F.
Sandi F.4 years ago

John W
"The children saved now will be the international problems of the future as they turn to piracy, military insurgency, terrorism and endless famines as the earth gets warmer." and
"Africa just cannot support the populations it has now. The only way to stop the cycle of death and destruction is to allow the natural downsizing of the people now"

Wow, that is a whole lot of self centered, bull&hit. Another member of the party of ME. I mean the party of TEA.

Are you suggesting that people who are unlucky enough to live where the climate is being affected the greatest are expendable? Because the rest of us are living in selfish ways that is making the climate the way it is. So you are really saying, Africans should have to pay with their life for the greedy, environmentally selfish ways of the rest of us.

Winn Adams
Winn Adams4 years ago

There are many organizations who will help but I do agree Doctors Without Boarders is an excellent choice to contribute to. I know I have in the past and will do so in the future.

John W.
John W.4 years ago

Birth control is not a consideration when being raped:

But some may think that rape is no worse in Africa than the rest of the world?

Yet the Somalis have a way to stop unwanted babies:

Robert O.
Robert O.4 years ago

Good news. It's not much but hopefully it will do some good since the situation there is very dire.

Roger Monk
Past Member 4 years ago

All donations gratefully received, I'm sure. But it's little enough for a country the size of the US.