It must be bad when the International Herald Tribune actually mentions US involvement-
United Nations officials said that Somalia has higher malnutrition rates, more current bloodshed and many fewer aid workers than Darfur, which is often publicized as the world’s most pressing humanitarian crisis and has taken clear priority in terms of getting United Nations-backed peacekeepers.
The relentless urban combat in Mogadishu, between an unpopular transitional government — installed partially with American help — and a determined Islamist insurgency, has driven waves of desperate people up the Afgooye road, where more than 70 camps of twigs and plastic have popped up seemingly overnight.
The people here are hungry, exposed, sick and dying. And the few aid organizations willing to brave a lawless, notoriously dangerous environment cannot keep up with their needs, like providing milk to the thousands of babies with fading heartbeats and bulging eyes.
United Nations officials working on Somalia are trying to draw more attention to the country’s plight, which they feel has fallen into Darfur’s shadow. They have recently organized several trips, including one on Monday, for journalists to see for themselves.
But unlike Darfur, where the suffering is eased by a billion-dollar aid operation and more than 10,000 aid workers, Somalia is still considered mostly a no-go zone….recent surveys indicate the malnutrition rate is 19 percent, compared with about 13 percent in Darfur, with 15 percent being the emergency threshold.
United Nations officials now concede that the country was in better shape during the brief reign of Somalia’s Islamist movement last year. “It was more peaceful,” Laroche said. “And much easier for us to work. The Islamists didn’t cause us any problems.”