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Somali Muslims Are Dying of Starvation

By Latheef Farook

Al-Jazeerah, CCUN, August 1, 2011


Muslim world with immense wealth remains indifferent.
What happened to their conscience leave alone religious obligations?
Somalia in the Horn of Africa is a Muslim country. Somalis are pious and god fearing   people with their own tradition and culture. They are so religious that most Somalis in the south memorize the Holy Quran, Hafiz, when they are around 12 or 13. They learn Quranic verses written on huge trees and their classes are around these trees. 
Though the people were poor Somalia is blessed with oil wealth. Thus the vultures – oil companies, weapons industries, financial oligarchy and the Jewish lobbies- which rule United States decided to destabilize to loot the oil wealth.
They overthrew President Said Barre in January 1991, armed rival tribes and triggered a civil war which turned this once peaceful country into a killing field causing death, devastation and immense sufferings .The anarchy continued unabated. Today Somalia is divided into lawless autonomous statelets. US oil companies entered the country are awaiting the opportunity to loot the oil wealth.
Today Somalis are experiencing the worst ever famine in the worst ever drought in 60 years. Across Somalia, about 3.7 million people, half the population, are facing starvation, with an estimated 2.8 million of them in the south.
Andrew Mitchell, the UK's international development secretary, said: "In Somalia, men, women and children are dying of starvation. If a concerted effort is not made to save the situation thousands are bound to die within a month or two. Already tens of thousands of people have died of starvation during the past few months.
The crisis is not something unexpected. Aid agencies and governments have known for almost a year that food would run out by now. But it is only now, when the children begin to die and the cattle have been sold or died that the global humanitarian machine has moved in, with its TV shows, co-ordinated appeals and celebrities.  
A father   of three walked almost a month to reach a camp in Kenya. On the way all three children died one after the other due to heat, lack of water and food. He had to bury his own children and by the time he dragged himself to the camp his wife too died of starvation.
Declaring South Somalia as a famine stricken area on 21 July 2011, the UN Secretary General Ban Ki moon said: Across the Horn of Africa, people are starving. A catastrophic combination of conflict, high food prices and drought has left more than 11 million people in desperate need. The UN has been sounding the alert for months. There is famine in parts of Somalia. And it is spreading. This is a wake-up call we cannot ignore. Every day I hear the harrowing reports from our U.N. teams on the ground.  Somali refugees, their cattle and goats dead from thirst, walking for weeks to find help in Kenya and Ethiopia. Children who arrive alone, terrified and malnourished, their parents dead, in a foreign land.
He added that “from within Somalia, we hear terrible stories of families who watched helplessly as their children died, one by one. One woman recently arrived at a U.N. displacement camp 87 miles southwest of Mogadishu after a three-week trek. Halima Omar, from the region of Lower Shabelle,was once considered well-off. Today, after three years of drought, she barely survives. Four of her six children are dead.
"There is nothing in the world worse than watching your own child die in front of your eyes because you cannot feed him," she said of her ordeal. "I am losing hope."

Even for those who reach the camps, there is often no hope. Many are simply too weak after long journeys across the arid land and die before they can be nursed back to strength. For people who need medical attention, there are often no medicines. Imagine the pain of those doctors, who must watch their patients perish for lack of resources.

As a human family, these stories shock us. We ask: How is this happening again? After all, the world has enough food. And yes, economic times are hard. Yet since time immemorial, amid even the worst austerity, the compassionate impulse to help our fellow human beings has never wavered.

That is why I reach out today: to focus global attention on this crisis, to sound the alarm and to call on the world's people to help Somalia in this moment of greatest need. To save the lives of the people at risk — the vast majority of them women and children — we need about $1.6 billion in aid. So far, international donors have given only half that amount. To turn the tide, to offer hope in the name of our common humanity, we must mobilize worldwide.   
The United States which annually gives billions of dollars of tax payers’ money to Israel, killing machine in the Middle East, gave a pittance of $28million while European countries are yet to respond. European countries met in Rome. However nothing substantial came out.
In the oil rich Gulf, blessed with abundant wealth, where regimes spend billions of dollars in buying weapons,    helping weapons industry in the West to flourish, only Kuwait has been dispatching plane loads of food and medicine. Saudi Arabia invested $60 billion on purchasing weapons from West can save these unfortunate Somalis only by giving a billion dollar. However, so far, there were no signs of such human kindness. Saudi allocation  is reported to be $ 50 million.
Where are the billionaire princes and sheikhs who have turned to West to hide their wealth? On the whole the response of the Muslim world is absolute disgrace. Wealth made them blind to their religious obligations.
Bitterly criticizing the indifference British politician Paddy Ashdown said” in todays newspapers – from front to back – I was hoping to see the media use their power and influence to tell this story. I hoped to see headlines shouting that millions of women and children in Somalia, and across the entire Horn of Africa, are struggling for survival and need the British public to help. But I didn't. Instead, my eyes were blurred with articles of shaving foam and hacking scandals, as talk about the dire need for nutritional supplies for children who need their lives saved slipped into the footnotes.  
In fact this is a manmade disaster .To understand the causes it is necessary to race back the roots of the problem to colonization and imperialism, political economic and social policies pursued in post-colonial times which perpetuate recurring famine and crisis and the crucial  role of the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund. Ends
Latheef Farook, a Sri Lankan ,worked for  Ceylon Daily News and Ceylon Observer for almost a decade before  leading a team of   journalists to Dubai in February 1979 where he re launched Gulf News. After living and working   in the Gulf for almost a quarter century he is now based in Colombo.





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