The desperate situation in Somalia and in refugee camps in Kenya filled to beyond overflowing with starving men, women and children cries out for a response. And yet how to respond? "Regular" people feel powerless to help. Our donations cannot be put to effective use due to the iron-fisted control over the region by the Islamic terrorist group that is keeping its own people from from getting the help they need.
The world powers, the United States and others, must step up and say enough is enough. Or have we reached a point where we are willing to admit that pirates and terrorists have claimed this country for their own and we are powerless to stop it and save the hundreds of thousands of lives that now hang on the brink? Surely we are not there yet.
Even aid organizations like Catholic Relief Services have their hands tied because they cannot work in a place controlled by a recognized terrorist group. So they work around the requirements as best they can, but they cannot do what they do best: help people become self-sufficient.
In a CNS story, Sean Callahan, executive vice president for CRS' overseas operations, explained:
"We've been in and out of Somalia over the years. We consult with Bishop (Giorgio) Bertin (apostolic administrator of Mogadishu) on how we should act and what we should do, and through him we are funding some projects addressing hunger there. He has advised us to be very cautious about going into Somalia, and currently, given the U.S. position on it, we can't," he said.
Read the entire CNS story (and photo) by Paul Jeffrey, chronicling one family's dangerous 32-day trek out of Somalia in a desperate attempt to get to a camp and save their children. It is heartbreaking:
DADAAB, Kenya (CNS) -- It took 32 days for Fatima Mohammed to make it from her drought-racked farm in Somalia to the relative safety of a sprawling refugee settlement in northeastern Kenya. There were days, she recalled, when her children were so thirsty that they could not walk and the men in her family would ferry them ahead, returning to carry two more children in their arms.
Fatima Mohammed told Catholic News Service that her family had lived through drought before, but that support from aid agencies helped them survive until the rains returned.
"This time, al-Shabaab won't let them in," she said, referring to the Islamist group that controls portions of Somalia. "So when our animals started dying, our only choice was to stay and die ourselves, or else start walking for Kenya."
They trekked across the desolate stretch of African bush, all 11 members of the family, often walking with other families in large groups to dissuade attacks from wild animals and bandits. They arrived in Dadaab at the end of May.
As the world has watched, in recent weeks the three camps that make up the Dadaab refugee complex have swollen to barely manageable proportions. Originally designed for 90,000 refugees when it opened two decades ago, the complex today host upward of 390,000 refugees, plus at least 60,000 people who have fled Somalia but are not yet officially registered with camp managers. United Nations officials say 1,300 newcomers arrive every day.
Continue reading HERE.