Somalia has suffered a long history of failed governments, famine, wars, lootings, piracy, and bomb attacks. The 1991-92 famine killed over 240,000 people, and history is in danger of repeating itself. The current culprit is al-Shabaab, a hyper-violent ultra-extremist Somali jihadist group made up of mostly forced conscripts. Al-Shabaab refuses to allow food and humanitarian aid to starving Somalis, despite condemnations by the UN, western governments, the Somali Transitional Federal Government, or TFG, and Somali civic groups.
In June 2011, tens of thousands of Somali refugees flooded camps in Ethiopia and Kenya - at a rate of more than 3,000 new arrivals per day.
Three-quarters of a million people are at immediate risk of famine; another 750,000 are refugees in neighboring countries, and 4 million – half the total population – is in need of emergency aid. It is a calamity that could join the ranks of the Rwanda genocide and the Darfur crisis in terms of scale and human suffering.
As 2011 the crisis unfolded, the U.N.-backed Transitional Federal Government, or TFG — now in its seventh year of what was supposed to be a five-year transitional process — has spent the year focusing on power-sharing accords and implementation of transitional tasks, instead of prioritizing the unfolding crisis and gaining control over its predatory security forces and corrupt politicians so that food aid can reach the hundreds of thousands of displaced famine victims.