This week, the United Nations declared that the food crisis in southern Somalia meets the criteria of an official famine. With the announcement comes the hope that the wealthier countries of the world will open their aid purses and send relief. But, the above Canadian Broadcasting Corporation (CBC) news story shows that the response has been tepid at best. One UN worker, interviewed earlier this week on CBC radio, suggested that a long-term, slow developing crisis like a famine does not produce the same emotional outpouring as a sudden disaster such as the earthquakes in Haiti or Japan. Others are pulling out the well-worn mantra of `donor fatigue`.
The responses on the discussion board on the online story paint a different picture. I was shocked and saddened to read the comments. Many are overwhelmingly adamant in their belief that we should not send aid to Somalia. (Check the `like, dislike` figures for the comments.) The rational voices, speaking out for generosity and compassion, are being voted down. Of course, this is just one discussion on one article, but the tone is worrying.
Here are some of the arguments cited against giving relief…
- Somalia has a long history of violence, war, and corruption. There is no guarantee that aid will not end up in the hands of the war-lords who rule the country.
- The strict Islamist rule in Somalia should not be supported.
- Support for Somalia should come from the oil-rich Moslem states.
- Aid relief should be taken from the ill-gotten gains of Somalian pirates.
- It is time to stop the band-aid measures of food relief, and put resources into the root of the problem.
- The famine is an over-population issue.
- There is an increasing distrust of many charitable organizations.