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Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Aid to Somalia? Really?

Dozens of Christian humanitarian workers have been
beheaded by Somali Islamists in the past two years,  including
this man, but it is thousands of Muslims who starve as a result.

There is a picture that goes with the caption above. I cannot seem to be able to get the thing to post properly. When I can post the pic, I will. That being said, moments after it was taken, a small knife was used to saw, not slice cleanly and quickly, but saw into his throat and arteries. His blood gushed up in torrents and the gurgling blood filling his spasming lungs is enough to make decent people physically ill. Why was he killed? First, he was Christian, not muslim. Second, he was in Somalia to distribute food.  This is one of the publicized attacks against aid that al Shabab proudly displayed and distributed via the internet.

The UN has declared a famine in Somalia. CNN is cajoling people to donate in spite of al Shabab’s control over southern and central Somalia. Hillary Clinton has just promised to add another $28 million of our tax dollars (even though the budget has not been written and ratified, she is writing checks against it).

This is sick. It is a tragedy. I have nightmares about it! I have seen these vicious,  vile “people” dragging people through the streets from the back of a car simply because the victim was Christian.

The other point I want to make here is about the recruitment of child soldiers. Children are recruited by way of schools (madrasa for them), off the street, or kidnapped. Consider the schools. The only schools operating in Somalia for children are Islamic madrasa. The first step is mental/psychological indoctrination.  At this early stage children are used by Shabab as spotters for attacks, emplacers of IEDs, or, if they are not making the grade at school, media fodder. By media fodder I mean they are put in front of cameras to elicit aid from the world, as no one who is civilized wants to see a starving child. I certainly don’t. Another manifestation of media fodder is they are given a suicide task. The catch is that the child does not know he is about to die. The lifeless body of a child is then used to anger muslims and Somalis worldwide to come into Somalia to fight against infidels who are, by simply being there, causing the death of Somali children.

So, after aid workers had been slaughtered by Shabab, Hillary wants to spend more of our tax dollars to send food and non-islamic workers into an area where they are likely to die.

11:43 22 LUG 2011
(AGI) Mogadishu - Hard-line militant Islamists in drought-ridden Somalia are continuing to refuse international aid. They are accusing the UN of giving false information about the real situation in Somalia. This is a turn-around from a fortnight ago when the extremists announced that the ban on international agencies working in areas under their control, in place since 2009, had been revoked. .
UN officially declares famine in two regions of Somalia
US to send aid to areas controlled by Islamist group al-Shabab news services
The United Nations declared famine in two regions of southern Somalia Wednesday and said it could quickly spread unless donors took action.
Mark Bowden, humanitarian coordinator for Somalia, said southern Bakool and Lower Shabelle had been hit by the worst famine in the region for 20 years.
The U.N. is proposing "exceptional measures" of providing "cash relief" while it finds ways of getting larger volumes of food aid into southern Somalia, Bowden said. The U.N. is also appealing for $300 million over the next two months for Somalia.
"If we don't act now, famine will spread to all eight regions of southern Somalia within two months, due to poor harvests and infectious disease outbreaks," Bowden said.
"Every day of delay in assistance is literally a matter of life or death for children and their families in the famine-affected areas."
The U.N. said 3.7 million people across the war-ravaged Horn of Africa country, or almost half the population, were now in danger. Of them 2.8 million are in the south.
In the worst-affected areas, half the children are malnourished. "It is likely that tens of thousands will already have died, the majority of those being children," Bowden said.
Years of drought, that have also affected Kenya and Ethiopia, have hit harvests and conflict has made it extremely difficult for agencies to operate and access communities in the south of the country.
The south is controlled by al-Shabab Islamist insurgents, affiliated to al-Qaida, who are fighting to topple the Western-backed government. The group also controls parts of the capital Mogadishu and central Somalia.
In early July, the rebels lifted a ban on food aid which they had said created dependency. Some analysts say they are allowing aid in because they fear a public backlash if they do not. Others say the rebels want bribes.
The U.N. has said the inability of food agencies to work in the region since early 2010 because of the ban had contributed to the crisis.
"If cash is made available, that will enable the market to continue to function," said Luca Alinovi, head of the U.N.'s Food and Agriculture Organization in Somalia.
Roberto Schmidt  /  AFP - Getty Images
Two sisters hold hands as they follow their mother and brothers at the reception center of the Dolo Ado refugee camp near the Ethiopia-Somalia border.
A change in US policy
U.S. aid officials said Wednesday they would send help to the areas of Somalia under the control of al-Shabab, the BBC reported. But officials wanted assurance the aid wouldn't fall into the hands of the insurgents.
Al-Shabab is considered a terrorist group by the U.S. and last year the U.S. stopped sending aid to the areas of Somalia controlled by the group.
"What we need is assurances from the World Food Program and from other agencies, the United Nations or other agencies, both public and in the non-governmental sector, who are willing to go into Somalia who will tell us affirmatively that they are not being taxed by al-Shabab, they are not being subjected to bribes from al-Shabab, that they can operate unfettered," said Donald Steinberg, deputy administrator of the U.S. Agency for International Development, in an interview with the BBC.
The U.N. is working to improve its access to airstrips in al-Shabab-controlled territory so that it can import large volumes of food into the country, Bowden said.
Nearly 135,000 Somalis have fled since January, mainly to Kenya and Ethiopia. An average of 1,700 and 1,300 Somalis are arriving in Ethiopia and Kenya respectively each day.
The U.N. defines famine as at least 20 percent of households facing extreme food shortages, a crude mortality rate of more than 2 people per 10,000 per day and malnutrition rates of above 30 percent.
Reuters also contributed to this report

Somali Militias Recruiting Child Soldiers, New Report Finds
Photo: AP
A young boy leads the hard-line Islamist Al Shabab fighters as they conduct military exercise in
Children as young as eight years old have been recruited to fight in Somalia's ongoing civil war, according to a report published by Amnesty International, Wednesday.
Recruiters lure or kidnap children
Amnesty says most of the young soldiers recruited are between the ages of 10 and 17. Some, it says, are lured from their homes by promises of gifts like mobile phones. Others, it says, are kidnapped.

Amnesty's Benedicte Goderiaux told VOA that one girl said her school was raided by the militant Islamist group al-Shabab.

“One child told us for instance that she was at school and her school was raided by armed groups  so that they could take children away, presumably to take them to a training camp and to train them into fighting. She said that one teacher who tried to oppose the abduction of children was killed,” Goderiaux said.

Basis for report

The 90-page report is based on 200 interviews with Somalis who had fled to neighboring countries.

Civil war and lawlessness have plagued Somalia since the fall of the last stable government in 1991.  The situation has been made worse by severe drought and high food prices that have led to famine conditions in parts of the country.

“A combination of conflict, drought, and lack of access to humanitarian aid is really making the situation absolutely unbearable for children,” Goderiaux explained.

The Amnesty report says most child soldiers are recruited by al-Shabab.  But it says the Transitional Federal Government, TFG, which is supported by the international community, also has children fighting for it.  The TFG denies this.

African Union

Roger Middleton, a Horn of Africa expert at the London-based research group Chatham House, says the African Union should use its influence with the TFG.  The AU Mission in Somalia, or AMISOM, is the only international peacekeeping force in Somalia.

“The AU needs to put as much pressure as it can on the TFG to make sure it is not recruiting child soldiers and to use its influence. Because the reality is if AMISOM were to leave - highly unlikely scenario, but if it were to leave -- that would be the end of the TFG,” Middleton said.

He says the broader international community, which funds the TFG, should also be making sure children are protected.  At this point though, he says, international governments have few options.

"The problem for the international community is that they do not have a Plan B beyond the TFG, they have not got that far. And they need to start thinking about it," he stated.

The Amnesty report cites the recruitment of children by armed groups as one of the reasons so many Somalis are fleeing southern and central Somalia

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