Currently viewing the tag: "famine"

Current memorials were built with an implicit confidence in the future, expecting that the arc of history is bending towards justice and prosperity. In an era in which famines are returning, because political leaders don’t care enough about human life to take the elementary steps to prevent or prohibit starvation, the famine memorial needs to sting more. How to commemorate famine in an era when we seem prepared to tolerate starvation, I suggest, is a conversation that is needed today.

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The strategy of the coalition campaign against Yemen could have been lifted from a colonial blueprint: the aircraft strike military and civilian targets in equal measure, including among the latter: agricultural extension offices, irrigated farms, fishing ports and fishing boats, clinics and hospitals, markets and roads. The artisanal fishing on the Red Sea coast, formerly a major source of livelihood—fish exports used to be Yemen’s second biggest earner after oil—is now almost totally at a standstill. The bombing raids are augmented by a blockade, which includes commercial food imports in a country that was, immediately prior to the war, dependent on such imports for 80 percent of its grains. It is also amplified by an economic war, which involved moving the Central Bank from Houthi-controlled Sana’a to Aden, and halting all payments of salaries to civil servants.

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Starvation had utility for the Nazis. As indeed it had for colonizers before and since. Acts of colonial conquest, subjugation and extraction had created famine, from the East India Company in Bengal in the 1770s through the American settlers’ use of hunger to expropriate Native American lands, through the British concentration camps in South Africa. The 1863 Lieber Code that regulated the conduct of the Union armies during the Civil War infamously provided that ‘it is lawful to starve the hostile belligerent, armed or unarmed, so that it leads to the speedier subjection of the enemy.’ In his 1906 Handbook for Small Wars, Colonel Sir Charles Callwell advised his fellow officers that pacification operations would likely involve confiscating cattle and burning villages, ‘an aspect that may shock the humanitarian.’

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The synopsis taught in Irish schools of the demographic impact of the Great Hunger that devastated Ireland from 1845-52 is as follows: 1 million dead, 2 million emigrants. Is it a general rule that famines generate mass migration or was Ireland the exception? Remarkably, despite long-standing demographic research into famine and intensive current interest in migration, there is no definitive answer. But there is urgent policy interest in the link between mass starvation and migration. This article examines the causes and migration patterns of episodes of mass starvation from the 19th century onward and demonstrates the critical need for deeper research on the linkages between famine and migration. Among the unanswered questions: Does migration mitigate starvation or worsen it? Does it precede or follow famine? And how?

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The World Peace Foundation at The Fletcher School (Tufts University) has published a report by Professor Martha Mundy, The Strategies of the Coalition in the Yemen War,” that provides comprehensive analysis of patterns of targeting civilian, agricultural and fishing sites by the Saudi Arabia-led coalition in the on-going Yemen war. The Coalition is backing the internationally recognized government of Abd-Rabbuh Mansour Hadi, in the war against the “Houthi rebels” – the “Salvation/Rescue Government” of Ansarallah and its allies based in Sana’a. The war has brought Yemen to the brink of famine, with an estimated 22 million people in need of food aid.

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This month’s Employee of the Month comes to us via Annie Fairchild and Catriona Murdoch, both of our partner organization, Global Rights Compliance.

In light of the unanimous adoption of UNSC Resolution 2417, September’s Employee of the Month is Starvation, and specifically those political and military leaders who have continued to utilise starvation as […]

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