Monday, August 22, 2005

Somalia

I like to look through the BBC website to see what news may be reported outside of the American media. It usually gives a very different perspective on the world, and there are stories available there that I do not hear anything about in this country. Today there was a troubling article about violence and a completely different way of life in Somalia. Did you realize that Somalia is the only country in the world without a functioning government, that this has been the case for the past fourteen years? There is no national currency, few national resources, and this country is one of the poorest and least developed in the world. More than 80% of its citizens are illiterate and there are no public schools. With the current anarchy there is little chance of this country getting back on its feet again -- and though a transitional parliament was sworn in a year ago, per the BBC article this has failed to end the anarchy. This is the fourteenth attempt to bring peace to this country. The previous thirteen have failed, and there does not seem to be a great deal of hope for this effort.

Somalis are being shot, stabbed and otherwise assaulted in a country that is not even at war. The victims are typically women and children, contributing to the high infant mortality rate. According to MSF (
Medecins Sans Frontieres, or Doctors Without Borders), "More than 10% of children die at birth and 25% of those who survive perish before they are five." The mothers in Somalia love their children the same way that I love my baby. The idea that she would have a one in four chance of dying before she reached the age of five is heartbreaking. To live in a country where there would be no police intervention, no governmental recourse to take... I cannot imagine how it would feel to be so powerless to stop such force against the ones you hold closest to your heart.

UN Food and Agriculture Organisation's Food Security Analysis Unit estimates that 919,000 people in Somalia are in need of immediate humanitarian assistance. I keep trying to think of what I can do to help this situation in my own small way. Some food donations appear to be stalled, held hostage in the port. I do not know if this is typical or if some donations are making it through. Donations to MSF will likely help the most, though writing to your senator or representatives in the house is a good habit to adopt. Please consider doing something, even something small, to change the lives of those you may never know. Their experiences are different and more desperate than we can imagine and it seems to me that we have a genuine duty as humans to do what we can wherever we are.

4 Comments:

At 8/23/2005 5:43 PM, Blogger mrsmogul said...

The UK and Europe is much more informed with world news then in America. The BBC can be a pain though. It you're watching a tv program or a movie, they interrupt for an hour and make you watch the news. I have mixed feelings on the BBC. They like to manipulate the public. They force their views out as the right way. They are too preachy.

 
At 8/23/2005 7:37 PM, Blogger Laura GF said...

mrsmogul: thanks for taking a moment to comment. I agree that news media, for all of their ideals of subjectivity, can manipulate facts and present only the selection of stories with which they feel comfortable. At the same time, I think there is definitely value in perusing stories from news sources around the world so that you can hear new perspectives and stories to which you might not have otherwise had exposure.

A great site for this is Today's Front Pages: http://www.newseum.org/todaysfrontpages/flash/
It includes front pages from around the world and you can surf by clicking on a map. If you check it out, I hope you enjoy it!

 
At 8/24/2005 12:16 AM, Blogger Mama M said...

I love that site! I am a former newscaster and of course the news is slanted. Just like magazines or a Web site, each media outlet has its niche and specific target audience they need to write for. I enjoy watching the BBC when I am overseas. Their newscasters are cheeky and get away with saying things you could never say on air in the US!

Thanks for this post. We often forget what happens outside of our own little walls and I always appreciate it when others bring up issues like Somalia. Puts America's anger about gas prices into perspective (not that I am happy about the cost of gas).

 
At 8/24/2005 9:12 PM, Blogger celeste said...

mama m is right. I becoming more and more aware of how selfish I can be when I complain about having to wear glasses! ....because there are so many people in the world that worry daily about just getting their basic needs met. I, thankfully, am blessed to enjoy food, shelter, love, and safety every day. Thanks again for this little reminder. How easily I forget.

 

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