Peacekeeping: Starvation in Southern Africa


October 23, 2005: Starvation in southern Africa is leading to a peacekeeper crises. A protracted drought has seriously reduced crops yields in several countries in southern Africa. Mozambique, Lesotho, Swaziland, Zambia, Malawi, and Zimbabwe, are all affected. In Malawi and Zimbabwe, the problem has been exacerbated by serious political mismanagement and turmoil. The U.N. World Food Program has embarked on a fund raising program, having estimated that by Spring of 2006, some $200 million worth of aid will be required to avert famine in some areas. The results, however, have been poor, since the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, plus recent remarkable series of disasters - the December 2004 tsunami, several severe hurricanes in the Caribbean and Gulf of Mexico, Central America, and recent earthquakes in Asia, have already resulted in enormous outpouring of international aid, which has left few of the world’s traditional donor nations - notably the U.S., western Europe, and Japan - with much left to give.

As a result, the possibility of widespread famine looms over the region. Since several of the countries involved are beset of significant political turmoil or have only recently emerged from civil war, there is a great danger that this may lead to a revival of widespread disorders.

In this regard it is worth noting that South Africa, which is not affected by the drought and expects bumper crops this year, is committed to supporting the U.N. effort to get food to the stricken area, and is also restructuring its armed forces to serve more frequently as peacekeepers. The growing unrest to the north could mean even greater demands on South Africa for peacekeeping troops. The South Africans are regarded as the best trained and disciplined troops in Africa, and are eagerly sought after as peacekeepers. But the South Africans have limited resources, and there is already popular resistance to sending more peacekeeping troops north.


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