"Millions May Starve, but Ethiopian Regime Bids to Control," Wall Street
(Summary by Harminder Bhullar)
Connell, alongside another article appearing in this same issue of The Wall Street Journal (“Murder by
Hunger”), probes the roots of the famine deep within rural Eritrea and northern
Ethiopia, where nearly 6 million people, many too weak to walk, face death by
starvation because the bulk of these famine victims receive less than 5% of the
aid that is channeled through government-controlled relief centers. However,
drought is only part of the problem. Wars between nationalist guerillas and the
Ethiopian government have divided the worst hit areas into separate
“territories,” with opposition in the
Connell points out that the Ethiopian government continues to systematically cover-up the fact that it lacks access to most of the natives starving in the countryside in fear of the political implications of its excessive loss of territorial control. And “the U.N., among others, is complicitous in this cover-up by remaining silent about it.” As a result, food aid has become a powerful political weapon used by the government in the control of the region, at the expense of the hundreds of thousands of innocent civilians that are dying. Even private agencies working under the government auspices cover-up by omitting such key facts from their reports.
“To ignore these facts is to consign hundreds of thousands of innocent civilians to invisibility and almost certain death.”
Meanwhile, the wars continue
between the guerillas and the government, taking even more innocent lives.
Soviet-supplied MiGs bomb refugees, killing 18 and wounding 561 at an attack
Connell states that what is needed now is “immediate and full disclosure of the political dimensions of this crisis by aid agencies, governments, U.N. organizations, and media alike.” Such actions would at least open the way to two essential first steps. First, “the safe passage of relief supplies under neutral international supervision to the hungry across battle lines through airlift and truck.” Second, “an even distribution of aid to famine victims wherever they are to be found, according to objective assessments of need regardless of political consideration.” Furthermore, these actions are fruitless unless coupled with substantial economic and social rehabilitation.
He concludes by saying, “a halt to the political manipulation of this terrible tragedy is long overdue. All those in position to foster peace and an equitable distribution of aid must now step forward—there is simply no longer an excuse to stay quiet.”