Last modified on Thu 15 Oct 2020 14.25 BST
It does not matter to a starving African child, or an expectant mother likely to die at childbirth, whether their only relief is coming dressed as British aid or colonialism (Zoe Williams, Opinion, 24 July).
Criticisms should be directed at African leaders who have proved unable to maintain peace and stability, and to provide their people with basic services, thus necessitating continued British aid almost 60 years since the end of colonial rule.
Living witnesses and documented records testify that during the colonial period, all African countries were meeting most if not all of the cost of their recurrent and development budgets without recourse to Britain. This was thanks to the rule of law, which protected or punished everyone without exception on ground of tribe, clan or religion.
But almost immediately after independence, tribalism, corruption, military coups and population growth triggered a vicious cycle of civil wars, famine and internal displacements.
The appalling increases in famine and deaths of migrants in the Mediterranean sea that we are witnessing today are not a result of British colonialism. They are a graphic and tragic demonstration of the failure of self-governance in Africa. The self-destruct wars in the Central African Republic, Burundi, South Sudan and Somalia, and the perennial crisis in Zimbabwe, are instructive.
Director, African Solutions to African Migration
The lack of public awareness about the devastating crisis unfolding across east Africa is not limited to Australia (This is not ‘natural selection’: east Africa is in the grip of a famine emergency, theguardian.com, 24 July).
While the British public and government responded generously to the Disasters Emergency Committee’s East Africa Crisis Appeal in March – allowing ActionAid UK and other agencies to increase emergency work in the region – there has since been little news coverage of the situation. Sharing Phoebe’s harrowing testimony is important. It shows the public how fragile and vulnerable large areas of east Africa are right now.
Though the humanitarian response has, so far, stopped several areas falling into famine conditions, hundreds of thousands still face hunger and loss of livelihoods in east Africa, spreading impoverishment’s net ever wider. Ironically, the humanitarian response may have succeeded in stopping things from becoming “bad enough” to grab headlines, but right now the women ActionAid works with in Kenya and Somaliland are telling us that this year’s rains are failing too. The clock is ticking on this crisis and the British public must be made aware.
Head of humanitarian response, ActionAid UK
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