Mogadishu, the Somali capital. Food crisis, insecurity, corruption and bankruptcy of a country
September 25th, 2011


Charity Business in Mogadishu After the withdrawal from Mogadishu of the al Shabaab rebels, Somalia finds itself in an apocalyptic situation. Drought, famine, bankruptcy 12.4 million people are affected throughout the Horn of Africa. The UN has declared a state of famine throughout Somalia and in the capital. At the hospital of Benaadir in Mogadishu, seven children die each day from malnutrition, cholera, and malaria. Over 4 million Somalis are living in distress, 750,000 could die in the next four months.

The crisis reached a critical level in Somalia after 20 years of civil war and clan conflicts. Part of the country is controlled by al Shabaab, Islamist allies of Al-Qaeda, and part by militias affiliated with the "transitional government, which has struggled to take control and provide services. General poverty affects 73 percent of households, but it reached 80 percent in rural and nomadic populations. The Somalis are facing their worst humanitarian crisis in eighteen years.

The Islamist movement Al Shabaab prevents the delivery of
food aid, partly to divert it to their advantage, but also for ideological reasons: they are wary of any Western influence.

In government-controlled areas, goods are taxed and diverted by opportunistic businessman to be sold. The humanitarian NGOs working on "remote control" are leaving 80 percent of the goods in the hands of what is essentially a local mafia network. It is not uncommon for traders to resell the food bags of the international community on the capital markets. The situation is complicated and disturbing.

In the market, food is available but too expensive. Rice and
water have become unaffordable for families who have steadily depleted their savings over the months. For some foods, inflation is over 300 percent.

Gulf countries are now sending their own NGO representatives, determined to invest in the country on their own terms. Suitcases of banknotes in hand, and delivering tons of food, they try to show their support for fellow Muslims. In exchange for the aid, they hold prayer services in Arabic (Somalis do not speak Arabic, but Somali) on vacant lots for displaced people and promote a prayer "for the rain that falls at our feet quickly. The rainy season starts in November.

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