Sustainable Progress for the Deepening Somali Conflict
By Communications Task Force Blogger Tyler S. Bugg
At a recent regional summit in Kenya, Ethiopian Prime Minister Meles Zenawi pushed for creating “corridors of humanitarian assistance” to the aid of Somalian instability. Political instability, longstanding absences in rule of law, and tight control from Islamist al-Shabab militia groups have been undermining the successful delivery of aid packages to some of the most famine-hit regions of Somalia. After the United Nations formally recognized the spreading of serious famine in parts of Somalia, al-Shabab rebel groups have continued imposing stringent restrictions on the delivery of food aid to regions of Somalia. Aid is not reaching enough people.
The tensions in the face of humanitarian and peackeeping efforts in Somalia beckon other questions: What is humanitarian aid? What does it hope to accomplish? It is working?
Even though the crisis in Somalia continues to struggle with what is now known as a decade-long conflict, pledges of humanitarian aid to the country have seen just as much time. Aid from the African Union, several NGOs, and even the United States, have oftentimes never materialized, being driven out of the region after continued threats from Al Shabab and similar groups. Zenawi’s messages for rush-assistance is more of the same; it’s much of why al-Shabab aid interception and political backlash has been reignited.
Continued steps at help have, so far, largely been ineffective. Response to the intensifying Somalian conflict has been, at best, tactical. Food aid is not enough.
To create progress in Somalia, more substantive strategy is needed. Emergency assistance, while perhaps helpful, is only temporary; putting the redevelopment of Somalia’s political, economic, and social infrastructures back in the hands of Somalians is vital to fostering faster and greater progress. Support of initiatives like the soon-to-be Nairobi Action Plan— investing in the most drought-effected areas with long-term, sustainable livestock-keeping communities– is a step in the right direction. It’s a step that solutions to conflict local and community-felt. It’s support for their own rights, their own progress.
The more time we waste by avoiding long-term strategy, the more expansive al-Shabab and ally networks spread throughout the globe, and the more the Somali crisis deepens. Somalia needs humanitarian aid of definitions much broader than food; it needs the pressure of knowledge, willpower, and sustainability to make substantive progress. Pushing the United States and other members of the international community to actively support a collaborative and cooperative stance in creating sustainable economic and political growth can be the answer in returning Somalis to the rights and the country they deserve.
The opinions expressed here are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the position of STAND.