Tommy Tiernan in Somalia: We can do better – and we must

I left Luuq, a town in Gedo region in southern Somalia, at noon. Twenty-four hours later I was on the M50 in Dublin. I’m not sure how many thousands of miles I travelled but I do know the length of time it took me to do it. A day. Everything that I saw is just a day away.

I was in a hospital and I saw a woman come in and lay her baby on a bed. A doctor came over and we were asked to leave. Word came through later on that the child had died. From hunger.

We were taken to an area outside the town where tens of thousands of people were camped. Their crops had failed and their animals had died so they’d walked for days to get here. A man I was talking to had buried one of his kids by the side of the road during the journey knowing that if they’d stopped to grieve properly more of his children would die. Digging a hole into the dirt with his bare hands. His family watching. The child wrapped in a cloth. Two of his other small children on the verge of severe malnutrition. His wife unable to breastfeed them because her milk has dried up.

An old man said to me: “It has never been as bad as this. All I do is think of the past.” I asked him did he blame anyone and he said: ‘No, it is God’s will and only God can save us.’”

I passed the entrance of a tent and a baby lying on the ground looked like the one I’d seen in the hospital earlier that day. He was lying in the shade with his mother, on the edge of death. A victim of logistics.

Hundreds of thousands of children may die before the year is out and they will all be victims of logistics. There is food, there just isn’t the global will to get it to them. Governments have other priorities.

The Irish Emergency Alliance, which includes Trócaire, has launched an appeal for the Horn of Africa. Donations to this urgent appeal can be made through or by calling 1800 939 979

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