Tuesday, May 6, 2008

Somalia today: Food Riots with Fatalities

"I've never demonstrated before, but I'm not ashamed because if you can't eat, you will do whatever you can," said Abdullahi Mohammed, 57, of Mogadishu. "Before I was eating three times a day, but now sometimes it's not even once."

This quote from the LA Times coverage of today's food riot in Somalia really leapt out at me. The food riots have started and are well underway in the developing world. Today, the issue was that shops refused to accept the Somali shilling, preventing citizens to buy food with the only currency they could hold. Gunfire and grenades were used upon the looting protesters in Mogadishu. I am heartbroken considering that more of the same is sure to come. I think of the irritability I feel when I fast. I think about the love I have for my children. I think about how small my fasting irritation would be in comparison to the desperation and unfocused wrath I would feel if extreme hunger were coupled with watching my beloved starve. I think I might be out burning tires as well and (if I thought I could get away with it to feed my children)...looting. Not the most moral admission, but an honest one.

France said that it would double it's food aid to Somalia. I don't know what that amount would be, but it is a call for all of "developed nations" to live up to our Millennium Development Goal commitments. We said we would help and we didn't. And now there are people dying in the streets over rice. It won't be fast enough to help the people in Somalia in the short term, but passage of the Global Poverty Act is critical...not only to get our ball rolling in providing more and better poverty-focused development assistance, but to tell the rest of the world we give a damn about people besides ourselves.

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