Socialist Worker

Man-made famine hits Horn of Africa

by Ken Olende
Issue No. 2259

The Horn of Africa is facing its worst drought in 60 years, and the United Nations says ten million people could face famine.

The drought is affecting Djibouti, Ethiopia, Kenya, Somalia and Uganda. Ethiopia and especially Somalia are threatened with devastation.

Already tens of thousands of starving people have walked to overcrowded refugee camps in northern Kenya.

The Independent newspaper reports that 1,200 children are arriving at the camps every day.

The largest camp was intended to house 90,000 people, but there are currently 370,000 people living there.

The British government has pledged £38 million in food aid to Ethiopia. But the country is still burdened with an external debt of £2.5 billion.

The truth is that in the modern world, famines are caused by politics, not nature.

People are starving not because there is no food, but because they cannot afford the food that is there.

Countries caught up in recent imperialist intervention are suffering the most.

Somalia was establishing a government under the Union of Islamic Courts in 2007, but it didn’t meet with US approval.

The US military sponsored and supported an Ethiopian invasion that was disastrous for both Ethiopia and Somalia.

Trade

US secretary of state Hillary Clinton visited three African countries in June calling for further opening up of trade.

Last week unmanned US military drones, costing nearly £3 million each, attacked the city of Kismayo in southern Somalia.

The US was trying to assassinate local Islamist leaders.

The Hellfire missiles frequently used in such attacks cost £42,000 each.

The US-funded Famine Early Warning Systems Network said the famine’s impacts have been “exacerbated by extremely high food prices”.

Food prices in Kenya have risen by 80 percent, while in Ethiopia they have jumped by 41 percent.

The fluctuations in food prices are pushed by the neoliberal policies of the International Monetary Fund (IMF).

The IMF forces economies to open up to free trade, rather than concentrating on food security for local populations.

During the current financial crisis, food speculation has made the problem far worse.

Figures from the World Development Movement reveal that hedge funds, investment bankers and pension funds have poured over £125 billion into food markets since the financial crisis, betting on the rising price of food.

The system is responsible for starvation. Getting rid of the system is the way to end it.


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International
Tue 5 Jul 2011, 16:31 BST
Issue No. 2259
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