May 26, 2008


Somalia on the verge of collapse, aid officials and residents say : On top of a growing insurgency and a government void, the nation's fragile economy is disintegrating. (Abukar Albadri and Edmund Sanders, 5/26/08, The LA Times)

Along the ghostly streets of Mogadishu, just about the only traffic nowadays consists of starving cats and goats searching for food. They race toward the occasional pedestrian, crying for scraps.

Their owners fled the city's violence long ago, leaving more than half of Somalia's capital deserted. Shops are closed. Burned-out cars sit abandoned by the side of the road. Other than soldiers and militiamen, only the most desperate of people frequent the streets, including orphans and old women who sometimes are forced to compete with the strays for food.

Most others leave their homes only when necessary. In venturing outside, they hurry to their destinations in silence, heads down, avoiding eye contact with strangers. Few dare use cellphones lest they fall victim to thieves or be accused of spying. There's no socializing because it's too risky to stop for chitchat and no one knows whom to trust.

After 17 years of civil war, it's hard to imagine Somalia could get any worse. It has.

These days, this Horn of Africa nation appears on the verge of a total breakdown, aid officials and residents said.

In addition to a growing insurgency, clan warfare and the lack of a functioning government since 1991, Somalia's fragile economy is now disintegrating amid hyperinflation and the local effects of a global food crisis that sparked riots this month.

This one we needlessly broke.

Posted by Orrin Judd at May 26, 2008 11:32 PM
Comments for this post are closed.