Once again news has broken of human tragedy on an almost unimaginable scale, this time in the horn of Africa. UNHCR and BBC reports amongst others, have described that as many as 10 million people are currently experiencing malnutrition and starvation, as a result of the combination of severe drought and fighting across this area.
It could be very easy to default to `compassion fatigue` as we are presented with yet more appalling images of Somali children in Kenyan refugee camps, dying in front of our eyes. We may not like what we see, but as we already give so much in austere times there`s a limit to our resources, and anyway, what can we do ? The problem in this area will never go away, and has little to do with us.
To say that Somalia is in turmoil is something of an understatement. Comprehending reasons, beyond the climatic, can prove unfathomable, particularly for those in the west. The following quote from a recent Guardian newspaper story on the country shows the confusion; `....the Islamist government of Sharif Ahmed is locked in an attritional struggle with Al-Shabab , a radical off-shoot of the Islamic Courts Movement, the alliance of tribal Sharia courts which once controlled most of southern Somalia. The government is also under attack from Hizb Al-Islam, a Somali franchise of Alqaida...' http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2010/jun/07/somalia-civil-war-al-qaida
Not the easiest of explanations to western eyes. Being charitable in such trying circumstances, it might therefore be thought, would be wasteful or worse still, counter-productive.
Yet even the briefest resume of the history of Somalia would place this civil war raging since 1991, within something of a continuum-after all, the land has been fought over (and some would say exploited) variously for centuries, by both middle-eastern and western powers.Some would argue that the European creation of national boundaries in the late nineteenth century exacerbated tribal and religious differences.Even today, we learn of US and UK `drone` activities within the country, in the `fight against terrorism`. So like it or not, western fingerprints, amongst others, are arguably to be found within the seeds of this crisis. Put bluntly then ,even if we cannot be convinced on a human level of the need for aid and charitable donation, perhaps we can consider a historical responsibility and a current (anti-terrorism) `self-interest` ?
Whatever our stance, whatever the reasons for the suffering, unless money is urgently made available for those best placed to support in this tragedy, thousands of people, the majority of them children, are likely to die within the next few weeks. Our own contributions can therefore help provide short-term relief to such intolerable human suffering. And maybe our watchfulness,prayer, and petitioning can subsequently go some way to alleviate an apparently intractable problem. Surely we can but try ?
There are many sites for those who may be considering donations, for example;