All Articles Tagged "Somalia"
Perhaps one thing the mayor of Lewiston, Maine has yet to learn is to keep his personal feelings at the door.
Somali immigrants and their supports are asking for an apology and a letter of resignation from Lewiston mayor Robert MacDonald after an interview he did with British Broadcasting Corp saying that Somalis in the town and neighboring towns should “accept our culture and leave yours at the door.” On Thursday, protesters set up shop outside of City Hall in a rally to show their outrage. They also came armed with over 1,400 petitions to support their argument for Mayor MacDonald’s resignation.
Mayor MacDonald made a slight attempt to clarify his comments by saying that all he meant was that immigrants should try to assimilate into American culture. Further, he said his comments were taken out of context and he’d never make derogatory statements about Somalis.
Unfortunately, Lewiston’s Somali community has been the subject of many inflammatory comments over the last 10 years. Former mayor Larry Raymond wrote a letter in 2002 stating that the Somali population in 2002 was growing too fast and made a plea to Somali leaders that they discourage their friends and family from moving there because the city’s resources have been “maxed out.”
This also isn’t the first time Mayor MacDonald has come under fire with his comments. In a local newspaper, he once wrote that “submissive Somali women turn into obnoxious customers at the grocery store cash register.” He also told a reporter at a later time that immigrants shouldn’t “insert your culture, which obviously isn’t working, into ours, which does.”
I know, it’s Maine, so we shouldn’t be surprised. This is a state where 94 percent White – Lewiston is actually 86 percent White – and so maybe it shouldn’t come as a surprise that some of the political leaders there feel this way. But to openly make comments like that? Something is totally wrong with this picture.
Have you ever or do you currently live in a town where you feel that you have to “keep your culture in check?”
Somalia has struggled with turmoil for most of its recent history. The country has existed without a stable government since 1991 and this year, another crisis has impacted the lives of millions: famine. The disastrous combination of drought, war, famine and limited aid, has pushed some 12 million Somalis and others in East Africa into “crisis” and in need of food aid. Over the past few months alone, 29,000 children have perished. It is said that over a billion dollars in aid is necessary to aid the dire situation. With that large of a number, it’s going to take more than just government intervention to meet the need, and that’s where celebrities provide the biggest power: in raising awareness about different campaigns and programs.
In the case of Somalia, a few celebrities have takennotice and have been called to action. Here is our list of “do something” celebs:
Beyonce, Jay-Z, and Lady Gaga support the “I’m gonna be your friend” movement as part of the Save the Children network. The movement is in tune with the Bob Marley & The Wailers’ 1973 track, High Tide or Low Tide. The single has been released as a download together with a powerful film – to raise awareness and much needed funds. They solicit donations through the website http://www.imgonnabeyourfriend.org/ as well as a campaign on twitter.
This has been the worst drought the region has faced within 60 years and it appears that it is far from over. While 12.4 million people across the Horn of Africa have been affected by the drought – Somalia has taken the brunt of its devastation.
Mark Bowden, the U.N.’s Humanitarian Coordinator has declared the Bay region an official famine area. Not only that, out of the hundreds of people dying every day, nearly half of them are children. With the child malnutrition rate in the Bay region hovering at 58 percent – aid organizations have become concerned that the percentage will increase drastically before adequate help can arrive.
A report issued by the Famine Early Warning Systems Network has noted that due to the two consecutive poor harvests grain prices have skyrocketed – leaving poor families in a bind. Even if the January harvest comes out normal – which is hard to gauge, until after the rainy season in October – it will take months for poor families to feel stable again.
“This crisis is not going away any time soon and we are still looking at, over the next 12 months, acute numbers of population in need. Part of the reason we are facing the situation that we are in now is that we didn’t get the money at the beginning of the year when we warned of the famine.” Grainne Moloney of the U.N.’s Food Security and Nutrition and Analysis stated.
It also doesn’t help that the al Qaeda affiliated group, al Shabaab is controlling the food shipments into the South, allowing aid agencies to only deliver food to 1 million of those currently suffering. In an attempt to make things better, agencies have turned to using food and cash vouchers, which families use in exchange for supplies at their local markets.
“We must remember that time is not on our side. Every minute, more people, mostly women and mostly children, are dying. They’re becoming sick. They are fleeing their homes. We must respond. We need to rise to the level of this emergency by acting smarter and faster than we have before to achieve both short-term relief and long-term progress,” Secretary of State Hillary Clinton commented.
As it stands, the people living in the Horn of Africa will need about $2.5 billion dollars to make it out of this crisis. Currently, $1 billion has been pledged. The African Union has also committed to another $350 million, which marks the first time the union has come forward in this particular way.
The United States has pledged $600 million in aid, along with providing emergency help by securing long-term development assistance through the Obama Administration’s, Feed the Future.
Cynthia Wright is an avid lover of all things geeky. When she isn’t freelancing, she can be found on her blog BGA Life and on Twitter at @cynisright.
Soon after joining the African Union, the controversial South Sudan’s People’s Liberation Army (SPLA) went under a complete reconstruction in order to become a more modern and conventional army. Afterwards, the reformed militia plans to contribute to the peacekeeping missions of the United Nations and the African Union. At the same time, an offering such as this can be seen as two-fold being that the offering of troops to peacekeeping missions happens to be a good way for some countries to earn more foreign currency.
Army spokesman Philip Aguer released a statement late on Monday, where he detailed that the SPLA would soon be ready to go anywhere and help out as much as possible.
Even though, the UN has several peacekeeping missions around the world, the AU chips in to handle the missions in Somali and Sudan’s Darfur region. The South Sudan’s army would be a welcome contribution to the AU and Somalia with the SPLA averaging around 180,000 fighters. Yet, Aguer has also stated that the sending of South Sudanese troops is not “an immediate possibility.”
Sadly, for Somalia, that reasoning has been nothing new with few African nations willing to contribute troops to the 9,000 AU force permeating their country. With Somalia being upfront with needing 20,000 troops in order to detain the Islamist, group, al-Shabab, what will happen still remains a mystery.
Being that, Al-Shabab – a devout Islamic group with ties to al-Qaeda currently controls a large portion of south and central Somalia (which happens to include those locations adversely affected by the drought) – the situation is already in dire straits.
At the same time, South Sudan’s foreign officer, Deng Alor Kuol admitted that the new state was more than willing to lend a hand despite what others might think.
“It is part of our responsibility to help our Somali brothers and sisters to achieve peace,” Kuol told the BBC’s Focus on Africa program.
Last year, the UN Security Council approved 12,000 AU troops to enter Somalia, even though the AU specified that they needed 20,000. Even with that, there has been no word on whether that request will ever be fully granted. With Somalia being one of the few countries willing to lend support with Malawi and Nigeria both failing to fulfill obligations due to not wanting to be dragged into the long-standing Somalia and al-Shabab feud. With how it stands today, all the troops deployed in Somalia are made up from citizens of Uganda and Burundi.
Unfortunately, the issues surrounding Somalia seem to be ever growing, being that the country has been without a stable central government since the Siad Barre regime failure in 1991. Now that the country lacks sufficient military care, along with handling a severe famine since June, there appears to be no end in sight.
Cynthia Wright is an avid lover of all things geeky. When she isn’t freelancing, she can be found on her blog BGA Life and on Twitter at @cynisright.
There were other things in the news this week besides the debt ceiling deal, believe it or not. Here’s a few things that you may or may have not missed.
“I don’t want to be associated with him. It’s like touching a tar baby and you get it, you’re stuck.”
-Colorado Congressman, Doug Lamborn, on his dealings with President Obama. He had since apologized for those controversial comments but seriously, what gives with all these loose lips in the GOP?
by Selam Aster
It’s officially the worst drought to hit Somalia in 60 years, according to the United Nations. It has been reported that in the past three months, 29,000 children under 5 have perished due to the famine affecting their home country. One third of the Somali population – 3.7 million – is at risk for starvation.
Transporting aid to certain regions of the country has been complicated by the fact that “al-Qaida-linked militants” in Somalia have blocked the efforts of the World Food Program. The fighting between these militants and the government is exasperating the plight and conditions.
Although international efforts are underway to raise money, the UN says that efforts need to be accellerated. To donate, you can access the list organized by the global non-profit organization InterAction.
Did you know that 800,000 children are in danger of dying of starvation in the coming weeks if aid is not delivered to the Horn of Africa immediately? If you didn’t, it’s not your fault. The famine destroying the lives of east Africans is just now making it into the mainstream papers. Our nation’s media has been so focused on the debt ceiling debacle and the phone hacking scandal that pleas by aid organizations for funds have gone unheard. In fact, only one American news organization, ABC News, has a journalist on the ground in the area — now dubbed the Triangle of Death by aid workers stunned by the catastrophic suffering. Yahoo News reports:
ABC claims that it is the only American news network to have a reporter in Mogadishu, Somalia—the epicenter of Africa’s deadly and increasingly violent famine.
But that may soon change.
On Monday, the New York Times ran a heartbreakingly powerful image taken by photographer Tyler Hicks of a starving Somalian child on its cover, above-the-fold.
Until now, the media—the Times included—has been distracted by phone hacking and debt ceiling coverage to focus on the crisis there.
“The famine in Africa has had to compete with the wrangling over the debt ceiling, the mobile phone hacking scandals in Britain, the killings in Norway and, in Africa itself, the birth of a new country, the Republic of South Sudan,” Stephanie Strom writes.
Aid workers have been warning the international community for some time that the ongoing war in the region combined with a worsening drought were destined to cause the massive food crisis now affecting 12 million individuals. It is a pathetic excuse to blame events of recent weeks for letting what some have called a man-made disaster progress to the point of costing almost one million innocent lives.
But more important than placing blame is focusing on what we can do now.
Organizations like British relief group Oxfam are stressing more than ever the urgent need for the public to donate funds — and for governments to follow through on their pledges. In addition, experts have underscored that organizations like the U.N. must work with local groups on the strategic delivery of support in war torn areas to side-step violent rebels.
It is unclear whether those seeking to ameliorate the devastation are being heard. Despite continuing requests for action, governments have been delayed in responding to the suffering bringing millions the brink of extinction.
In one startling example, The Washington Post revealed that recently “a donor conference [hosted by the African Union] to raise money for Somalia famine victims has been postponed for at least two weeks.” The reason for the postponement? Poor planning.
The region has suffered enough from the poor planning of world leaders, who keep pushing preventing the imminent deaths of millions to the bottom of their to-do lists. Many children in Somalia and Kenya do not have two weeks to live. The time is literally now or never, as the U.N. reports that the under-five death rate in Kenya is sharply rising.
In the midst of addressing our debt ceiling debate, President Obama admitted that this tragedy “hasn’t gotten as much attention here in the United States as it deserves.” If the American news media is culpable for failing to provide the necessary awareness, it is more important than ever for concerned citizens to make a grass roots efforts to assist the starving.
The New York Times has (finally) created a list of organizations working to provide aid to the Horn of Africa. It is important for us all to use this list to give what we can, in addition to pressuring world leaders to work intelligently to protect aid workers and refugees traveling through dangerous territories.
Rape is among the many dangers faced by Somalian women walking to refugee camps through areas studded with militants, and living on the outskirts of camps out of fear for their safety within them. The hell people are going through there is evident. The innocent are oppressed from all sides. Our insensitivity to their pain must end, regardless of the slow movements of those in power.
You have the power now to make a difference. Donate money, send emails to elected officials. Through our collective action, we might be able to prevent further calamity.
by L. N. Rock
I’ve been wondering why are Black Americans are so quiet about the “Triangle of Death in the horn of Africa”.
With 11.3 million people in need of help across the drought stricken regions of East Africa, I have been wondering: shouldn’t Black America just do something?
To better understand my question, I want you to know a bit about me. I grew up in segregated Boston, Massachusetts back in the early 70’s. I was a high school and college stude activist. I’m a black male graduate of the University of Massachusetts, College of Public and Community Service. I hold both an undergraduate and Masters of Education degree. I say all that to say… I guess I’m part of what W. E. B.Dubois called “The Talented Tenth.” No I’m not part of the “elite” who Dr. Dubois argued could pull the rest of the black population up by its bootstraps, but I am part of the educated black male class of Black America who has always been willing and able to change America and change the world. I’m an old school black brother who has never been afraid of organizing and demonstrating (even today).
Back in the day, I would go to demonstrations at the Boston Commons to stop the Vietnam war, stop apartheid, and raising money for Biafra. Even though Boston was/is a segregated town, we knew how to organize and demonstrate.
Back in the 70’s, we had our own issues at home but we also provided voice for the voiceless in both America and Africa. But that was then and this is now. Today I find it interesting that few if any African-American political leaders have staged demonstrations or held hunger strikes, like package Gregory and others would do back in the day.
African American indifference to the tens of thousands of Somalis who are dying in the world’s worst famine in decades is amazing and disappointing. There is no excuse for us saying ‘we didn’t know,’ because there are regular media reports regarding exhausted, rail-thin women stumbling into refugee camps in Kenya and Ethiopia with dead babies and bleeding feet, having left weaker family members behind along the way. This should be of more concern to so-called African American leaders.
There is also a haunting silence from the diaspora about the plight of the Somalian women and children. As an African American I don’t understand how so many African Americans or black Americans, if you will, continue to look away from mother Africa. I don’t get how African Americans can look away from the cataclysmic Triangle of Death in the horn of Africa, to which we are nothing less than boringly indifferent.
This is nothing new, black Americans have looked away from the murderous civil war in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), and genocide in other parts of Africa.
I also don’t get why black Americans are identifying less and less with mother Africa? Is it self hatred towards Africa? If it is not self hatred, when will the 21st Century “Talented Tenth” become concerned about Africa again?
Clearly those exhausted, rail-thin women stumbling into refugee camps in Kenya and Ethiopia with dead babies and bleeding feet don’t have time for the talented tenth, but the talented tenth sure could make some time for the.
L. N. Rock is a management consultant, Democratic strategist, and 2008 Democractic National Convention blogger. He blogs as African American Pundit.
(AP) — Refugee Barwago Mohamud huddles silently beneath a few blankets stretched over sticks at night, fearing for her life after a neighbor was raped, and a naked woman who had been kidnapped and gang-raped for three days in front of her terrified children was delivered to the medical tent next door. Only a few hundred feet away stands a newly built camp with a police station, toilet blocks and schools. Neat thornbush fences in the camp separate residential areas for families to move into. But all the facilities are empty. The Kenyan government is refusing to open the new Ifo 2 facility as part of the world’s biggest refugee camp, Dadaab, saying the desperate Somali refugees flowing into the country are a security risk.
(AP) — Mohamed Hassan gets emotional when he hears about the famine devastating Somalia, recalling his own months-long walk from Mogadishu to Kenya two decades ago as a teenager fleeing the civil war. Now Hassan and other Somalis here are digging deep to help. ”I’ve lived through starvations, hunger. I’ve lived in a refugee camp,” Hassan said. “Because of my relationship to the people of Somalia back home, but also because of past experiences, I feel the pain. I cannot afford to sit back and watch people go through these experiences.” From Facebook campaigns to car washes and concerts to local collection sites, Minnesota’s Somali community — the nation’s largest at an estimated 25,000 people — is raising tens of thousands of dollars to help the starving masses. Though an overall total isn’t known, Somalis have helped raised roughly $100,000 for the American Refugee Committee, including $47,000 at a single event last week. Another group, Amoud Foundation, reported raising $94,000 from the Twin Cities in less than two weeks.