We all get caught up in living our personal lives — the kids, work, the house, the car and the like. While we are busy with what seems to be so important in our own lives, the United Nations (UN) has recently declared drought and famine in parts of Somalia as being the worst in over 60 years.
This is hard to imagine when living as we do in a wealthy society, but the crisis has reached alarming levels. The UN’s Food Security and Nutrition Analysis Unit has ranked the crisis in Somalia as the worst food security situation in the world today with an estimated 310,000 people now suffering from malnutrition.
The International Committee of the Red Cross reports that one in ten children there is at risk of starving to death. The pictures of emaciated babies are everywhere in the media. How could it be that such deprivation in Somalia co-exists with sheer abundance and comfort in other parts of the world?
Again, it is hard to fathom the hunger and deprivation in Somalia in comparison with high levels of consumption and indulgence that are taken as normal in the developed world. The fact that we take so much for granted is regrettable.
Nevertheless, during this holy month of Ramadan, we are encouraged to look beyond our own comfort. We are expected to reflect on the needs of those less fortunate and question ourselves on how we can help. We must push ourselves to look at the unpleasant reality in Somalia and be moved to action.
The UN says the number of persons in need in Somalia has increased by one million over the last six months. That makes this Ramadan especially important. Somalia should be at the top of our mind during this holy month, and humanitarian aid should be our focus.
Somalia can no longer be viewed from a political viewpoint when deciding whether or not to help; it has gone far beyond this political debate over the last few weeks and months. The magnitude of the catastrophe is becoming clearer by the day, even to world leaders who until a few weeks ago were silent on the topic of aid. Politics must be put aside and support must begin to flow into the Horn of Africa in an attempt to avert a much bigger disaster.
The UN refugee agency (UNHCR) recently made its first airlift of aid into Mogadishu in the past fiver years. Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan said, only two days ago, that he and his family would visit Somalia this week to draw international attention to the East African country’s plight.
The United States recently announced that it had given $580m in aid as of August 8, 2011 and an additional $17m was announced by Secretary of State Hillary Clinton on Thursday.
Unfortunately, so far no government in the Gulf region has officially committed to lending financial support to those affected. Humanitarian aid agencies, like the Qatar Red Crescent, are fully engaged in providing aid to Somalia. QRC, in fact, has a long ongoing project in the country.
It is now a purely humanitarian crisis where innocent children are dying every day. It has become a public health disaster unfolding before our very eyes. Leaders must be galvanised to act and support this humanitarian effort.
Will world leaders facilitate enough aid to make a difference, and will we, as fellow humans, take up the cause and lend a helping hand to the poor, the sick, the weak, the displaced and the dying in Somalia?
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