24 Jul 2011
The United Nations has called an emergency meeting to discuss the Horn of Africa drought, which it says has already claimed tens of thousands of lives. Famine was declared in two regions of Somalia on Wednesday where 3.7 million people are in need of urgent humanitarian assistance. Another eight million people need food assistance in neighboring countries including Kenya and Ethiopia.
United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon calls the situation a "catastrophic combination of conflict, high food prices and drought" and has appealed for immediate aid. Democracy Now speaks with Kiki Gbeho of the U.N. Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs in Nairobi and Christian Parenti, author of "Tropic of Chaos: Climate Change and the New Geography of Violence."
"This was predicted long ago by people on the ground," Parenti says. “It’s a combination of war, climate change and very bad policy, particularly an embrace of radical free market policies by regional governments that mean the withdrawal of support for pastoralists, the type of people you saw with their dead cattle."
On a broader international stage, there’s the tolerance for really rank speculation in the food market by firms like Glencore and Cargill, which have a lot to answer for in terms of this famine, contends Parenti.