Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

8 Other African Nations Mimic Somalia's Problems

Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

8 Other African Nations Mimic Somalia's Problems

Article excerpt

THE AGENCY THAT warned the world about Somalia, only to be ignored for months while thousands of Somalis died, believes eight other African nations need the same help.

Somalia's disproportionate share of the global aid effort has forced nations and private groups into a dilemma: Whether to cut back in Somalia and risk a return to starvation in order to help the other "Somalias."

"Somalia was the priority, is a priority, but there are now many priorities on this continent," said Jean-Daniel Tauxe, head of the International Committee of the Red Cross in sub-Saharan Africa, the group that alerted the world to Somalia's straits. "It is impossible to cope with all these situations at the same time."

He said Somalia, the focus of the world's humanitarian efforts for a year now, must slide down the priority list on a continent bristling with factional violence, political chaos and an influx of weapons from abroad.

Tauxe said Rwanda, Burundi, Zaire, South Africa, Liberia, Sierra Leone, Sudan and Angola now equal or exceed Somalia in terms of need, with 10 more African nations involved in armed civil conflicts slightly less debilitating.

The United States led a multinational force to Somalia one year ago today to protect food distribution to a nation that famine, clan warfare and looting ravaged.

The relief operation was considered a success. But repeated clashes in Mogadishu, the capital, with militias loyal to clan leader Mohamed Farrah Aidid have left hundreds of U.N. soldiers - including 32 Americans - and Somalis dead. The United States plans to pull out its 20,000 military personnel by March 31.

This Horn of Africa nation sank into chaos after the rebellion in January 1991 against dictator Mohammed Siad Barre. About 350,000 died from warfare and famine, although Tauxe of the Red Cross said the figure was probably closer to 500,000. …

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