Cultures of War in Northeast Africa

Cultures of war in Northeast Africa

None of the war-torn nations in northeastern Africa are fighting each other at present. Yet over the last five years of budget belt-tightening in each country, "defense" spending in Ethiopia, Sudan, Chad, Somalia, and Uganda nevertheless has continued to escalate.

In the case of the first four, repressive, undemocratic governments are, in varying degrees, at war with their own people. In the fifth, Uganda, increasingly brutal behavior by the military against civilians in areas of rebel activity is sowing the seeds for a return to full-scale civil war.

The repercussions for the people being brutalized by these war machines are unparalleled in their severity. Infant and maternal mortality rates, numbers of orphaned or enslaved children, the flow of refugees and internally displaced people, malnutrition figures, and incidences of major diseases are among the highest in the world for each country. Per capita income, life expectancy, and access to health services, education, and clean water are among the lowest.

When war degenerates into famine, Western nations are credited, quite often by themselves, for saving the lives of millions of Africans with donations of relief food and medicine. Ironically, it is many of these same Western nations whose policies and aid helped create and support the very wars and famines their emergency relief is attempting to ameliorate.

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