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Somalia famine: World's response 'unforgiveable'

22 September 11 18:15
Families from southern Somalia wait for food rations at Maalin refugee camp at Hawlwadag district in Mogadishu on 15 September 2011
By Andrew Harding
Africa correspondent

Take a look at this new report on Somalia's famine.

Calls to arms do not get much more urgent, or more emphatic.

Ken Menkhaus explicitly compares the current famine - and more specifically, the world's response - to the 1994 Rwanda genocide. Not surprising, you might say, given that he's writing on behalf of the American advocacy group, Enough.

Such shrill, provocative language may help, or may undermine his case - refer to the whole debate over Darfur and genocide - but it is encouraging to see him take aim, with such rousing vigour at all sides in Somalia's wretched status quo.

Nobody gets off lightly.

Somalia's Western-backed "slippery" transitional government is accused of "massive corruption and food aid diversion".

The Islamic world is urged to step up and put far more pressure on al-Shabab and its "non-negotiable moral obligation to open up… to unimpeded famine relief".

President Barack Obama is implicitly accused of dithering, and of allowing various competing wings of the US government to disagree over whether to prioritise humanitarian action, or counter-terrorism.

Borrowing loosely from Iraq, Mr Menkhaus calls for an international "diplomatic surge" to shame and force Somalia's leaders into giving unimpeded access to the starving.

If that fails - should the world sit back, or send in the troops?

Let me know what you think.

I've just left Libya but have been below the radar for almost a week after an unexpected detour to a Tripoli hospital - I'll write about that little adventure in the next day or so.

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