How to Help Somalia

July 25, 2011

By Gilbert Martin, Somalia Country Specialist for Amnesty USA

A mother and child in the Bulo Jawaanley camp for the internally displaced in Somalia. © UNHCR/B. Bannon

The Amnesty report  on Somalia’s Children under Attack released last week reflects the despair already engulfing what is being called a Failed State.

You’ve read the reports and seen the images: continued fighting with no end in sight;  more victims – the lucky ones living to tell of their ordeals; the teeming refugee camps across the Kenyan border; all  compounded by the severe region wide drought and, now, famine.

None of us can do a whole lot about this deplorable situation, right? The Somalis have been at war for a couple of decades, seemingly fighting over dust and rubble (and as to the drought – well, what can we do about that when we can’t even agree as a government about whether or not global warming is influenced by human behavior?)

Turns out Amnesty provides a list in our report (p. 73) of what can be done by our government and others in the international community which, if implemented, would probably eventually have some favorable impact on the situation on the ground: it is the usual sensible mix of targeted assistance, appropriate training, and respect for the arms embargo,  as well as for international norms and humanitarian law relating to child soldiers and others. You may wish to write to your elected representatives in support of these recommendations.

But what can you do – today – that will have a concrete and positive impact on the lives of Somalis in the weeks and months to come? Dig into your pockets and help fund the work of one of the organizations working on the ground in Somalia. Your assistance can even get to some of the people in areas controlled by the Islamist rebel group Al-Shabab, which had previously halted food aid by some western NGOs.

Here is a list of aid groups working in Somalia from the Huffington Post.  Inclusion on the list is not an endorsement by Amnesty International.