Drought in Somalia brings devastation

By Finn McKenna

Somalia is currently experiencing its worst drought in four decades. According to NASA, the Horn of Africa is suffering its worst drought ever. Somalia has a population of 17 million and just under half are suffering food shortages, with 1.5 million children acutely malnourished. Internal displacement is an ever-growing feature of the disaster, affecting over 1 million people.

Climate change effects

In 2011, 260,000 Somalis perished due to a drought. A similar hellscape is facing the Somali people today unless essential products such as medicine and food are acquired from outside of Somalia, where the earth is scorched and with it livestock and crops turn to dust.

The global C02 output, which the African continent contributes to the least, is resulting in fundamental shifts in wind and rain patterns off the coast of eastern Africa. The people there are paying a devastating price for the actions of the major industrial and imperialist states, and their pursuit of profit. The rain season has failed to come to Somalia for four consecutive years.

Civil war

Civil war in the past three decades has seen the almost complete disintegration of the Somali state. The military junta under Siad Barre, which was USSR-aligned in the 1980s before turning towards US imperialism, was ousted by various clan-based rebel militias in the early 1990s. These militias soon thereafter turned the guns on each other. Ever since, a protracted civil war has ensued.

The contending war-lords (some backed by Western imperialists, others are Islamic extremists), are attempting to dominate and control aid as part of their power struggle.

World must respond

Military intervention by surrounding states or anyone else can bring no solutions to the conflagration experienced by Somalia’s people. Nor can any capitalist forces resolve the crisis.

The workers’ and trade union movement internationally must respond to this catastrophe and find ways to transport essential food and medical supplies to the Horn of Africa. And also, crucially, to support a movement of working-class and poor people that breaks with the rule of capitalism and imperialism as the only way out of this horror.

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