25 August 2011

Le Sigh: First Lady-Type Persons Visiting Dadaab

Mike Pflanz recently wrote a great piece about the visit of Jil Biden, the US Vice President’s wife, to Dadaab. Dadaab is really the hotspot of ‘look, people are dying!’ tourism at the moment. Here are the logistics behind Biden’s two-hour visit, according to Pflanz:

‘Watching the wife of the US vice-president touring the world's biggest refugee camp for famine-hit Somalis was a scrum of television cameramen, international reporters and Washington staffers thumbing their BlackBerrys. A circle of secret-service agents, their oversized shirts flattened by the hot wind onto the outlines of bullet-proof vests and pistols beneath, fanned out, watching 'the perimeter'.

Parked off to the side, waiting to whisk the visitors back to the airport, was a convoy of 29 polished vehicles, including armoured US embassy Land Cruisers driven the eight hours up from Nairobi the day before.

Two US Army Hercules C-130 aircraft were flown in – one as a backup in case of technical hitches – to transfer the Americans to Dadaab from their overnight flight from Washington. They would fly home the same day.’

And we’re working our way down the hierarchy: Just now, Cindy McCain, wife of US Republican Senator John McCain, has found her way to Kenya and to Dadaab. She found horror, death and starvation of biblical proportions, as she recounts in an interview with her daughter Meghan McCain:

‘It’s a horrible situation that has been going on for quite some time; it escalated recently due to lower-than- normal spring rains and lack of food security due to the increased conflict.’

Yeah, that. And also two decades of civil war in Somalia and no functioning government, which doesn’t really help. Aidan Hartley recently pointed out in a good piece in the Spectator, ‘Drought didn’t cause Somalia’s famine’: ‘the ‘Somalis’ are not starving. The victims are mainly the weak or minority clans — or anybody who has not armed himself to the teeth. Add to this political mix the failures of the United Nations and its main sponsors.’

Well, she does try to look at the context. Here’s an insightful piece of analysis:
‘There are bad guys roaming around this place not because they want to be good citizens but terrorists. Somalia is where the pirates are. We’ve had so many issues in regards to our military. They kidnap people on a regular basis— kidnapping is an industry there. It’s in our best interest to make sure these people are helped. I also encourage those that have the means and are willing to come here—and I’m particularly pointing at Hollywood.’

But my favourite bit of the whole article – Meghan: ‘If you weren’t my mother, I wouldn’t know this was going on.’

Try reading the bloody news, for crying out loud.

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