FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
WASHINGTON – The international community must temporarily redirect the political pressure it is placing on Somalia’s Transitional Federal Government (TFG) to compel it to open humanitarian access to thousands of famine victims in its areas of control, according to a new policy paper by Ken Menkhaus for the Enough Project.
Menkhaus, a professor of political science at Davidson College and a specialist on Somalia, argues that the preoccupation with advancing Somalia’s political transition should be suspended in order to urge the TFG to act to alleviate the famine.
“The humanitarian crisis is taking a backseat to the political transition,” Menkhaus said. “In the context of a massive famine, preoccupation with politics is misplaced. To Somalis and many outside observers, it comes across as a case of rearranging the deck chairs on the Titanic. It diverts energy from the immediate crisis at hand.”
Many of the 750,000 Somalis at immediate risk of famine are in squalid camps clustered around the capital, Mogadishu, and under TFG control. Politicians have wasted time bickering over power and corrupt security forces have stolen food aid while the famine escalates.
The international community has focused its efforts on transforming the TFG into a viable government – a worthy goal, but one that should be temporarily redirected to concentrate on allowing aid to reach those most in need, Menkhaus said.
“The international community must pursue state-building in Somalia as if people mattered,” Menkhaus said. “The ultimate goal is a safe and secure environment for Somalis to live. Completing the political transition in Somalia will not be seen as much of an accomplishment if hundreds of thousands of Somalis die in the process.”
Menkhaus’ paper is part of a series of Enough Project reports that looks at a variety of possible solutions to the Somali conflict and its attendant humanitarian impacts.
“The Somali transitional government won’t take seriously U.S. exhortations about aid access until our aid and counter-terrorism engagement is conditioned directly on how the transitional government treats its own people,” said Enough Project Co-Founder John Prendergast.
Read the full report: “Somalia: State-Building As If People Mattered."
Enough is a project of the Center for American Progress to end genocide and crimes against humanity. Founded in 2007, the Enough Project focuses on crises in Sudan, eastern Congo, and areas of Africa affected by the Lord’s Resistance Army. Enough’s strategy papers and briefings provide sharp field analysis and targeted policy recommendations based on a “3P” crisis response strategy: promoting durable peace, providing civilian protection, and punishing perpetrators of atrocities. Enough works with concerned citizens, advocates, and policy makers to prevent, mitigate, and resolve these crises. For more information, please visit www.enoughproject.org.