Friday, April 10, 2009

The Fat, the Dying and the Helpless of Somalia

The political,social ,and economic situation in Somalia is deteriorating day after day. Everything else is in short supply except cellphones, bullets and guns. Despite the abundance of untapped natural resources, there is hardly a town or village that has clean running water; poor sanitation is the cause of various contagious diseases; there is shortage of medicine in the remaining few ramshackle hospitals, clinics, and pharmacies; schools and Madrasah's are in deplorable states if not nonexistent in many towns and villages; women, children, and the elderly are dying in great numbers because of shortage of food, clean water, and shelter.

At present, the population of Somalia may be divided into three categories: the fat, the dying, and the helpless. The fat are a group of men who represent the mass in manipulating the nation's executive, legislative, and judicial sectors of the otiose Transitional National Government hereafter referred to as the TNG. They are hale and healthy; they fly executive jets, hold dual citizenship, dine on French gourmet, wear three-piece suits and are well-paid. They reside in posh hotels in Dubai, Nairobi, Addis Ababa, Djibouti, USA, UK, and other European countries. Their wives and children enjoy safe haven outside of Somalia and survive on foreign taxpayer money. When they arrive Mogadishu, they are accorded total protection by the African Union peace keeping troops who are armed with armored-personnel carriers, rocket-propelled grenades, bazookas, and other assortment of weapons, heavy and light. These fat men who number 550 are the so-called democratically selected (not elected by popular vote) parliamentarians of Somalia. They have big, fat bellies; some are clean-shaven with secular thoughts and western leanings, others are bearded Mullahs driven by religious fervor and fundamentalist ideologies. They hardly intermingle with the rest of society for fear they may contract deadly viruses or get killed unsuspectingly.

Inside Somalia, fragmentation along clan and religious lines have created a breed of bare-footed, scantily-dressed youthful fundamentalists dressed up like the Taliban of Afghanistan who brandish swords of divine annihilation. Some have been indoctrinated into Saudi Wahhabi ideology, others are ardent followers of Usama bin Laden's Al-Qaida. There is the Al-Shabab, the Al-Islah, the Islamic Courts Union, the forces of Ras Kiyamboni, and a cornucopia of hyphenated movements and religious sects. They wage war against each other like hyenas fighting over decaying carcass. They are led by semi-literate Mullahs eying the highest seat of the land-the Presidency. Almost all wish for the creation of a caliphate encompassing the entire Horn of Africa and even beyond. They feel they can bring down empires, command the seas, impose their brand of religious fanaticism, and afflict resounding blitzkrieg to any nation that opposes their style of governance.

The dying are those at the brink of death within Somalia borders. They are either victims of gunshots or bed-ridden by devastating diseases or lack basic care and live in the open if not in dilapidated shelters. Of the dying, some are guilty of genocide and crimes against humanity because, at one time they were the warlords' gun-totting, marauding hooligans who caused Somalia's initial collapse. Others are innocent civilians caught in the quagmire. They remain entangled in a never-ending senseless cross-fire whose end remain unpredictable.

The helpless are the women, children, and the elderly whose living conditions are no better than the dying. They are either refugees cramped into refugee camps in neighboring countries or are internally displaced persons living in decrepit conditions without sufficient food, medicine, water, shelter, and other amenities. Women remain the most vulnerable because of their exposure to the vagaries of war. Social stigma, rape, and other forms of abuse deprive them of their human dignity. Female genital mutilation, an ancient surgical procedure that involves the removal of either the labia minora or the labia majora or both, and clitoridectomy, remain a menace to their mental faculties as many suffer symptoms of stress-related illnesses, depression, psychotic disorders, urinary tract infections, pregnancy complications or death.

Somalia's helpless children are either orphans whose parents perished in the war or simply died as a result of natural causes. There are those who were abandoned by their parents intentionally or accidentally. The number of children without basic education run into the millions. In order to survive, adolescents have taken guns to the battle fields or are wrecking havoc in the towns and villages by setting up illegal road blocks. Some are wading through the coastlines as pirates holding hostage foreign merchant ships plying Somalia waters and demanding ransom. Somalia's elderly are the most neglected and the most susceptible to disease, hunger, and deliberate aggressions.

The suffering in Somalia can only come to a halt when the men with the big, fat bellies renounce their aggressions and model a form of government befitting the people of Somalia.

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