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Aid delivery remains a central obstacle in Somalia's famine

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“The international response to date has been shockingly inadequate not just because funds for humanitarian aid have fallen short, but because of the absence of political will to take bold diplomatic action to remove impediments to the delivery of aid,” Menkhaus wrote in a paper published by the Enough Project yesterday.

The 2011 Somalia famine – the worst in 60 years – currently threatens three-quarters of a million people. Nearly half of the country’s population needs emergency assistance. The region is inherently more prone to drought than almost anywhere else in the world, but war and the absence of a functioning government has shredded Somalis’ ability to cope and survive, Menkhaus told Enough in an interview last month.

Despite the long lead-time the international community had to prepare for famine this time around, and years of experience providing relief in this part of the world, assistance fails to reach those who need it most because of blockages and diversions by both the militant Al Shabab group and its sworn enemy, Somalia’s UN-backed Transitional Federal Government, or TFG. As a result, the bulk of the assistance can only get as close as the Kenyan border region, a walk of several days. Writes Menkhaus:

This is not a famine relief strategy – it is a macabre game of “Survivor,” rewarding those lucky and strong enough to straggle across the border with a prize of shelter, food rations, and the prospect of being warehoused in a refugee camp for the next 20 years.

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