The Washington Post on Wednesday published a leadership roundtable on U.S. aid and Somalia, featuring the following five opinion pieces:
Food Security and Nutrition
UNICEF on Tuesday “appeal[ed] to the air transport sector to provide free and discounted cargo space to bring emergency food supplies into the region,” the U.N. News Centre reports (8/2). UNHCR, the U.N. refugee agency, warned in its latest situation report that “[c]hild mortality rates among Somali refugees in Kenya are on the rise and there are ‘alarmingly high rates’ of malnutrition,” according to Deutsche Presse-Agentur/M&C (8/3).
The Obama administration on Tuesday issued new guidance stating “the U.S. would not prosecute relief agencies for delivering aid to parts of Somalia controlled by the Islamist insurgent group al-Shabab, despite concerns that unrestricted aid in the failed state would be diverted to the wrong hands,” Inter Press Service reports (Hough, 8/2).
With the State Department’s reassurance to aid groups on Tuesday that they “will not face prosecution if they are forced to pay bribes to al-Shabab or if militants divert some food supplies,” organizations still have “the problem of gaining access to famine victims and ensuring the safety of their personnel, a number of whom have been murdered by the militants,” a Washington Post editorial says. “But the crisis may be causing al-Shabab’s cohesion to break down; some commanders have been cutting deals with aid organizations to receive food supplies,” the editorial states.
“[A]s the worst drought in 60 years again devastates the Horn of Africa, throwing as many as 12 million into desperate hunger â€¦ there are hopeful signs that today’s drought need not result in the tens of thousands of deaths that we saw in earlier decades,” World Food Programme Executive Director Josette Sheeran writes in the Reuters blog “The Great Debate.”
“Scientists have identified an emerging ‘superbug’ strain of salmonella that is highly resistant to the antibiotic Ciprofloxacin, or Cipro, often used for severe salmonella infections, and say they fear it may spread around the world,” according to a study published online Tuesday in the Journal of Infectious Diseases, Reuters reports (Kelland, 8/3).
The famine in the Horn of Africa is getting worse, and unless there is “a massive increase in the response, the famine will spread to five or six more regions” in Somalia, Valerie Amos, the U.N. under-secretary-general for humanitarian affairs, told reporters on Monday, Reuters reports. Amos said the U.N. needs an additional $1.4 billion to help those in need and that the African Union would soon hold a funding conference, the news agency notes (Charbonneau, 8/1).
The following opinion pieces address the drought and famine situation in the Horn of Africa:
The “crisis in southern Somalia is expected to continue to worsen through 2011, with all areas of the south slipping into famine,” according to a U.N. Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) report for countries sending aid to the region, Reuters reports.
For the first time since the food crisis in the Horn of Africa began, a U.N. plane carrying 10 tons of food aid for children landed in the Somali capital, Mogadishu, on Wednesday, “as aid groups warned of a growing influx of hungry families from the famine-hit south of the country,” Reuters reports (Sheikh, 7/27).