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Somalia Is Dying. Why Don’t We Care?

Somalia Is Dying. Why Don’t We Care?

 

The United Nations warned Friday that all of Southern Somalia is in danger of slipping into famine. The number of people needing food is now at 12.4 million. Routes out of Somalia towards refugee camps are being called “roads of death” because of the bodies of those who starved to death along the way — particularly children — left by the roadside.

In the last week, since the Canadian Government announced that they would match all donations made to famine relief in Somalia and other parts of Africa, Canadians have donated — but not much. Since the announcement of donation matching, Canadians have donated $2.9 million to the Humanitarian Coalition, a group of charities that includes the Red Cross, Medecins Sans Frontiers and World Vision.

In contrast, in the week after an earthquake and subsequent tsunami devastated parts of Japan on 11 march, Canadians donated over $10 million to disaster relief, despite the fact that Japan is a wealthy, first world country with plenty of resources of its own. Why the discrepancy?

The issues are complex. Individuals may feel that donating to famine relief in the Horn of Africa is a waste of money, particularly since it is well known that aid agencies are having a very difficult time getting assistance directly to those who need it. Warlords and corruption are both having enormous impacts on how much aid is actually able to reach those in need.

Canadians also have a troubled history with Somalia. During a peacekeeping mission in 1993, a Somali teenager was killed at the hands of Canadian soldiers — a scandal that had deep and far-reaching implications for the Canadian military and left many Canadians wary of peacekeeping missions overall.

In addition, the media coverage of  Somalia is patchy. The story is not even current top news on CBC, CTV, BBC or CNN. The disaster in Japan, on the other hand, was immediate, widely broadcasted, repeated frequently and was immediately, viscerally devastating.

Finally, with the debt crisis in the US, political intrigue in Ottawa and July holidays being in full swing, people may simply be distracted. Life is busy, after all, and the suffering and deaths of thousands of Africans is incredibly difficult to comprehend and thus is hard to keep on our radars.

But even if it’s not on the news, it doesn’t mean it’s not happening. People are dying. Children are too malnourished and weak to even try to feed from their mothers or take in any food that might come their way. Mothers are leaving the bodies of their babies by the side of the road when they cannot reach a refugee camp in time — and even if they reach the camp, there’s no guarantee there’s enough space or food.

Canadians can donate to the Humanitarian Coalition at the website Together.ca. All donations made until September 14 will be matched by the Canadian government.

You can also sign the Care2 petition, telling President Obama and his administration to make aid to Somalia a priority.

 

Related Stories:

Actress Kristin Davis Breaks Down Over Conditions in Somalia

Thousands of Children Die as They Flee Somalia’s Drought

Somali Refugee Camps “Barely Fit For Humans”

 

 

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Photo Credit: Oxfam East Africa on Flickr

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176 comments

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2:25PM PST on Nov 30, 2011

I wonder what percentage of the ransoms collected by Somali pirates who place no value on the lives of their victims is directed towards the sustenance of their countrymen, women, and children!

4:31AM PDT on Oct 30, 2011

very sad... Europe, USA, etc always have so much food, and so much which is thrown away every day. And other countries have famines, wars, catastrophes,... they would be happy if "we" could give them the overabundance.

"Only when the last tree has been cut down; Only when the last river has been poisoned; Only when the last fish has been caught; Only then will you find that money cannot be eaten."
(Native American proverb)

"We have learned to fly the air like birds and swim the sea like fish, but we have not yet learned the simple art of living together as brothers." (Martin Luther King)

4:15AM PDT on Oct 30, 2011

very sad... Europe, USA, etc always have so much food, and so much which is thrown away every day. And other countries have famines, wars, catastrophes,... they would be happy if "we" could give them the overabundance.

they are dying because "we" in our progressive "world" are full with egoismn, only thinking about money, career, sexual and other things; "our" so called fun - society. And "after us the flood" as the biblical flood.

"Only when the last tree has been cut down; Only when the last river has been poisoned; Only when the last fish has been caught; Only then will you find that money cannot be eaten."
(Native American proverb)

"We have learned to fly the air like birds and swim the sea like fish, but we have not yet learned the simple art of living together as brothers." (Martin Luther King)

7:07PM PDT on Oct 17, 2011

What an awful situation. They need our help.

3:50AM PDT on Oct 3, 2011

Signed on July 29, 2011. with hope...
Can we make a difference (17,016,447 members)?!

12:48PM PDT on Aug 22, 2011

Please help Somalia.

10:01PM PDT on Aug 19, 2011

help somalia please.

10:41AM PDT on Aug 14, 2011

I personally have thousands in debts because I was out of work for almost two years. But despite having two kids and no husband, I care. I donated $350. My kids ARE NOT STARVING TO DEATH - meaning I can afford to help. Having trillions in debt as a country is not excuse for a person living there not willing to help save lives. And comparing children starving to death in thousands to "taking food out of out mouth"?! Unbelievable, not only heartless, but not smart.

7:22AM PDT on Aug 13, 2011

Would you call sending $125 million over there not caring??? We don't have it to spend, we need it ourselves because we are trillions in debt, but out government will gladly take the food out of our mouths to give to others so that "we" look good to the world.

4:48AM PDT on Aug 13, 2011

Blaming the Somalian people for the situation they are in is like blaming the Africans who were forcibly brought to the US for their own slavery. Or for a child who was brutality raped for not stopping what was going on. The ones to blame are the CAPTORS of the people!

So many on this board are saying that Somalia is corrupt, people are tired of donating, they need to help themselves, America has its own problems, blah blah blah. Lame excuses from countries who have so much. Those of you who are religious- how do these excuses fit into your beliefs? These excuses would be made if the country was not a black or Muslim country. Just more of the same, blame the victim, so I don't feel bad about not doing anything, mentality.

We sure do care about "Bringing Democracy" and "Human Rights Violations" in countries who have OIL. Should we say, it the Somalian's fault they don't have OIL, because if they did, we could help them? The people of Somalia probably wish they had a government who was trying to build Nuclear Weapons, because then the rest of the world would care if they were stable or not.

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