We’ve been hearing lots lately about the mass influx of Somalis into Kenya, desperately seeking help in their flight from devastating drought that threatens 3-million people with starvation, made worse by Islamic terrorism. It’s estimated that 29,000 Somali children under five have starved and that another 640,000 Somali children are severely undernourished. Though we’re talking of Somalia, portions of Kenya and Ethiopia are also experiencing sustained drought, the worst since the El Nino gyrations of the 1970s.
Things are likely to get worse in the Horn of Africa. In just the last two decades, herders in Ethiopia, Sudan, and Somalia have lost 80% of their stock due to starvation and disease.
But it isn’t simply climate change that’s the culprit here. Somalia is a failed state with no functioning government, characterized by an unstinting flow of weapons, piracy, and Islamic militants. Much of its chaos draws upon its colonial past and Ethiopian aggression that swallowed up the Somali populace, dividing them into five jurisdictions. On receiving independence in 1960, only the areas under British and Italian rule were reunited, the other Somali-speaking areas incorporated into Kenya, Djiboui, and Ethiopia. In turn, Somalia became an extension of the Cold War, as the U. S. and the Soviets competed for influence. The flow of weapons began and its violent aftermath continues in Somalia.
Somalia’s attempts to regain its land from Ethiopia resulted in the disastrous Ogaden conflict of the late 70s, destroying its economy. Somalia hasn’t seen a functioning government since 1991 and the legacy of Cold War arms into Somalia has made Somalia a seminal trouble spot in East Africa. Some of this weaponry has fallen into the hands of al Qaeda linked militants such as Al Shabab, which has denied a famine exists and considers Western food aid a plot.
In a subsequent post, I’ll touch on the growing refugee crisis across the world, not just Somalia, that promises to become one of humanity’s greatest challenges as global warming converges with failed economies, radical religion, and corrupt government to exact unprecedented suffering.