JAMES JENNINGS, jimjennings at earthlink.net
President of Conscience International, a humanitarian aid organization that worked during the worst of the Somalia famine in 2010-11 in the refugee camp at Bokolmayo on the Ethiopia-Somalia border as well as in the giant Daadab Camp for Somalia refugees in Kenya.
The group also has a representative on the ground in Peshawar, Pakistan where a reported 78 people have been killed at a bombing of All Saints Church, which Jennings is also familiar with.
He said today: “The terrorist attack at Nairobi’s Westgate shopping center was evidently a retaliation by al-Shabaab for the Kenyan military presence in Somalia since October, 2011 and a deliberate signal that they are still a force to be reckoned with. It represents a continuation of the violence that has swirled throughout East Africa in the wake of the disintegration of Somalia, a war now increasingly being exported across the region’s borders. The jockeying for power among Somali factions with its deadly combination of al-Qaeda-like extremism has been further exacerbated by the deadly 2010-2012 famine that killed 260,000 people and displaced an estimated two million.
“Large numbers of refugees have returned to Somalia since the fall of 2011, when Kenyan and Ethiopian troops moved against al-Shabaab strongholds in Somalia, supported by U.S. and French air and naval forces with tacit agreement by the Mogadishu authorities. The U.S. contributed naval forces as well as MQ-9 Reaper drones, reportedly flying out of a base at Arba Minch, Ethiopia. During the past year, al-Shabaab has been in decline, but the UN continues to accuse Eritrea of supplying weapons to al-Shabaab. Water, food, and peace are certainly in short supply in East Africa, but escalating the militarization of the region can only prolong the conflict.”