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Thursday, September 22, 2011

Somalia: Hell On Earth As The Rest Of The World Forgets

"Is it because Somalia does not equate with Japan's status as being too glamorous to suffer a catastrophe? That the people of the Horn do not matter as much as people from traditionally 'important' nations?"

Djokovic had won his third slam in a year. "Mad Men" dominated the Emmys in the nth year running. The pop world goes gaga over Lady Gaga, until when, I have no idea.. And Sarkozy came to Tripoli and treated like a rock star. Yet there is no dearth of sobering news as the world economy is in tatters, at least in the West, for now. More and more Americans are getting poorer. Greece is likely to be tossed off of the EU for its irreparable economy that further sends the bloc into economic doldrums. The world has plenty to talk about - mostly those that titillate our senses, and sending others of importance to oblivion.

Had it not been for Gadhafi, the world would have completely lost account  of what is happening in Africa. News that centered around the tyrant's demise albeit virtually had all media outlets around the world screaming in unison. For all its oil's worth and  bisexual innuendos pertaining to one of Gadhafi's sons, even the resignation of Steve Jobs from Apple's top echelon, was poised to upstage even the more hellish scenario further east at the Horn of Africa. Still few would choose to read or google about the famine in Africa.

These are not scenes told with exaggeration. It will break your heart. Somali families trek through the desert for weeks to get to the nearest UN refugee camp on Kenyan border some 50 miles away. Babies born along the way had their baptism of life's cruelty the moment they emerge from their mothers' wombs. Lucky if they make it through arduous journey and if their mothers are strong enough without having to eat anything to continue the journey. And my eyes welled up on this one - a mother had told of her little boy she left on the desert road because he was too weak to walk because she knew then he wouldn't survive. She had to be strong for her other children whom she thought stood a chance to survive in a long journey that took them forever.

Carcasses of dead animals along every single patch is a sight in ubiquity. As both humans and animals struggle to stay alive, there is nowhere near a tiny hint of vegetation that can bring them little hope. People fight off one another for a scant supply of drinking water. Given the situation, children and weaker ones do not stand a chance to survive longer. Even when herdsmen wish to sell off at knock-down prices what is left of their livestock, nobody would buy them for chances are they would soon be dead. A man who along with his family survived the trek to the refugee camp swears he used to be rich in their community but has given up little hope, looking at the loosed skin hanging from his emaciated son.

Some survivors who made it to the camp  have brought with them harrowing tales to tell.  Other families according to them were being stopped by Al Shabab militia  on their way to Kenya, telling them to go back and pray to Allah for rain. "For there is dignity dying in your own country than in another land", the militia's leader preaching at them. And for all its notoriety, it is hideous to think that this terrorist group is preaching dignity to its people when for all other reasons, this group has created famine for not allowing aid agencies to function in its own country so that thousands of lives could be saved in the process.

It's been two years running that drought has gobbled up the livelihood of people in Somalia, Sudan, Ethiopia and parts of Kenya and Djibouti. Save for Somalia, the aforementioned countries have tackled their problems without so much chaos because there exist a functioning government in those states. By contrast, Somalia has had no functioning government since 1991 that paved the way for anarchy to rule, compounded by the Al Qaeda- linked militia Al Shabab's presence that has virtually taken over the control of most of the country. 

The drought at the Horn of Africa is said to be the worst in over 60 years. Its natural arid land somehow has taught the people how to cope with scarcities from rain, but a prolonged dry spell unprecedented in the region has caused international aid agencies to sound an alarm of a looming humanitarian catastrophe. It's been three or four months that various aid agencies had unanimously asked world donors especially rich countries, to take seriously if not prioritize the widespread humanitarian catastrophe besetting the region. Indeed,  bulks of aids came trickling albeit haphazardly, but not in a manner tangible enough to cope with the needs of the refugees. Given the scale of this humanitarian disaster, sadly some rich countries do not seem to see it as emergency.

For God's sake, thousands are dying and will surely be dead if the UN fails to respond appropriately. How many rich countries have so far pledged to make a difference in the lives of those still living that refuse to die just yet? Okay, even rich nations have their own share of problems ranging from inflation to unemployment, or perhaps a regular movie ticket that has gotten more expensive, but seeing a tent city supposedly for the living  juxtaposed in an equally crowded burial ground for the unlucky, does that not bother them? Is it because Somalia does not equate with Japan's status as being too glamorous to suffer a catastrophe? That the people of the Horn do not matter as much as people from traditionally "important" nations?

Why all this time only one famous celebrity in Yossou N'Dour, himself an African has come forward to rally  support from his continent out of compassion for the needy? Has George Clooney ultimately grown weary of rallying support from Hollywood, that none from among the megastars seems to be aware of what is happening to another class of human beings down there at the Horn? 

Don't get me wrong, famous celebrities are not bound by any contract to use their fame and power to be able to raise awareness on any world problem. And if anything, that is the least they could dispense from their wealth to save others from perishing. They have the power to effect change and be a catalyst for the world to act. But judging on a slow and disappointing response, it is very discouraging that very few people actually know the real situation, with which to some extent they describe it as "hell on earth".

Obviously, the miseries of others easily get swept under the rug,  for we are not in any way affected by their plight. That is the coldest and most irresponsible reaction any sane human being could demonstrate towards a fellow human being. And if  the scenes of  untold of miseries unfolding on television  do not rend our hearts, and instead we opt to hop on another feel-good channel for us to escape reality, and still we unhesitatingly parade our left-overs in a fast-food chain for all to see, so that we escape being branded as glutton in public, then shame on us, because we heap scorn on ourselves.

How many people around us have the temerity to flaunt their wealth and excesses, yet their next door neighbor hardly had a meal on their table? How many people we know that easily forget their humble beginnings when luck comes by, so that they readily had a bout with amnesia? Yes, life is truly unfair. Some have the gall to show off their fortune, others their so-called fruits of their labor, but just the same there is no dignity gained from a lavish display of ostentation when most people around us die of deprivation

Jesus in his teaching has warned, "For what profit is it for a man if he gains the whole world but loses his own soul?" (Mark 8:36) And in Luke 12:15 he warned his disciples, "Watch out! Be on your guard against all kinds of greed; a man's life does not consist in the abundance of his possessions." And for the least of our brothers, he declares, "I tell you the truth, whatever you did not do for the least of these, you did not do for me." Then they will go to eternal punishment. - Matthew 25:45,46.

Each one of us is human enough not to be moved by the conditions of our fellow human beings in Somalia. It is a feeling that we all should embrace and not turn a blind eye to. So, if your conscience dictates you to bless others and be blest, you may click HERE to donate a little of what you can share, or at any link located on the side bar of this blog. Thank you.


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