In a part of the world where little attention is given beyond the briefest of news flashes, there is an ongoing famine impacting countless lives. Spurred in part by both drought and war, a famine is now casting its long shadow over millions of people across the Middle East and many parts of Africa.
Foreign interventionism, U.S. arms manufacturing and humanitarian aid that often comes too little and too late have helped twist a knife in wounds made by war and colonialism. This endless, man-made cycle continues to unleash devastating consequences.
Somalia, where the U.S. has been waging a covert drone war, is no stranger to famine. Between 2011 and 2012, over 260,000 died, half of them children under the age of 5, making it the worst famine in the last 25 years. Data from Somalia’s Food Security and Nutrition Analysis Unit (FSNAU) shows that 4.6 percent of the total population and 10 percent of children under 5 died in southern and central Somalia alone during that time.
The report argues that a combination of events led to the devastating famine, starting with weather conditions, which were the driest seen in the eastern Horn of Africa in 60 years. The organization found that “the result was widespread livestock deaths, the smallest cereal harvest since the 1991-94 civil war, and a major drop in labor demand, which reduced household income.”
In addition, the amount of humanitarian aid delivered to southern Somalia in 2010 and 2011 was exceptionally low, “especially compared to 2008-2009, when food aid accounted for a significant proportion of national cereal supply.” Not mentioned in FSNAU’s report is the U.S.-led “war on terror” and wider counter-terrorism policies, which have brought about the rise of extremist groups like al-Shabaab.