Somalia is Not So Far Away {part one} August 29 2011, 1 Comment

I am a mother. I have three children under the age of ten. They are healthy and growing. They have never heard gun-shots or been afraid for their lives. They drink water from our sink. They flush their waste down the toilet. When they are sick, they can get medicine. When they are hungry, they can have food. When they are hot, they can get cool. When they are cold, they can get warm.

Not so in Somalia. Already, 30,000 children have died. Did you hear that? 30,000 children have died. Imagine an epidemic or natural disaster that killed 30,000 American children. Our heads would be spinning and we would spring into action.

If the West does nothing, over 500,000 more children will die in the next few months.
Last week, my husband, who works for an International Aid Organization called Medair, was on a conference call with Dr. Jill Biden, Senator Frist, and a dozen others. The call was organized by The White House Office of Public Engagement and the Office of Faith-based and Neighborhood Partnerships. Here are some of the quotes he heard: 

“The magnitude is great. 2.5 million malnourished children in the horn of Africa, and the majority of those in Somalia….UNICEF estimates that half of those will die without help in the next few weeks. The increasing need is outstripping even the support that’s already come in.”

“Drought is mother nature, famine is man-made. And if it is man-made it can be undone by human action. We have a call to action to un-do it.”
 Senator William Frist, M.D.

“It’s a moral crisis and a humanitarian crisis of the first order.” Dr. Jill Biden (wife of our Vice President)

“The challenge of getting food and other help into Somalia is very significant…especially efforts like therapeutic feeding of children.” Eric Schwartz, Assistant Secretary of State

What is happening in Somalia? Famine.

The July 30, 2011, issue of The Economist (p.46) says, “Famine has a technical meaning these days.  It is declared when 30% of children are acutely malnourished, 20% of the population are without food, and deaths are running at two per 10,000 adults, or four per 10,000 children per day.  Famine Early Warning Systems Network (FEWS Net) conducted surveys across southern Somalia this month and found that malnutrition exceeded 38% in most areas – a catastrophic rate. About 2.8 million people are thought to need immediate life-saving help.”

This is not the first time. I remember as a young girl watching footage on the news about the famines of the early 1990's when civil war broke out in Somalia. Since then Somalia has had a central government. I remember cutting out pictures from National Geographic magazines and making a poster to take to school.

Then I don’t remember what happened. The news stopped covering the famine and so did I. {read part two}