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The Scoop
July 22, 2011

Addressing the Causes is Tomorrow’s Problem. Somalia Needs our Help Today.

by
George Grant

Nobody is under any illusions as to the causes of the ongoing famine in East Africa, where over 10 million people are at risk of starvation after the worst drought in 60 years. It’s not just that the rains have failed. Rains fail in many countries, but that does not inevitably lead to famine.

Drought is the trigger. But the components that need to be in place to pull it are lack of proper infrastructure, poor governance, and frequently conflict. It is no surprise, therefore, that the famine is worst in southern Somalia, where a brutal internecine conflict has kept that place in a state of Hobbsean chaos for two decades.

Heart-rending stories are daily emerging of babies being left to die, whole villages migrating to towns in a forlorn effort to find food, and parents trying to kill themselves to escape the total loss.

Not until these failings are addressed will such catastrophes stop repeating themselves, but we must be frank. Whole libraries have been written on the problem of poor governance and failing states, and many libraries more will be written in the future. That is well and good, but it won’t help those starving to death in East Africa who need our help today.

Without doubt, the people of Somalia and the region will thank the international community for any progress it makes in helping address the root-causes that exacerbate droughts like this to such horrifying levels.

For now, though, our words matter little. The best thing we can do is to give. Urgently-needed donations to the Disasters Emergency Committee can be made here: http://www.dec.org.uk/donate_now/

George Grant

About George Grant

George Grant was a non-resident Associate Fellow at The Henry Jackson Society. Between 2009-2012 George was a full-time Research Fellow at HJS, before moving to Libya to become Deputy Editor of the Libya Herald, the first post-Gaddafi English-language daily, and Libya Correspondent for The Times. He returned to the UK at the start of 2013 owing to an abduction threat received following an investigation he was conducting into a death list in Benghazi. His most recent report, In Scotland's Defence? An Assessment of SNP Defence Strategy, provides a comprehensive analysis of the Scottish National Party's proposals for how they would defend an independent Scotland. A frequent contributor to mainstream newspapers and broadcasters, including the Daily Telegraph, the Guardian, Al Jazeera and the BBC, George has also given briefings and evidence to Parliamentary Select Committees, UK Government departments and the Royal Military Academy Sandhurst in the fields of foreign policy, strategy and defence. George holds Masters degrees in History from the University of Edinburgh and Investigative Journalism from City University, London. He is a keen squash player and runner, and an active member of his local Church in Wimbledon.

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