A few years ago there were 8 million Somalis; now there are 7 million. Somalia as a nation has disappeared. The diplomatic corps gone. Hospitals looted. The overthrow of dictator Mohammed Siad Barre last year, which should have rescued the country from misrule, has led to anarchy and breakdown. Somalian clan armies destroy each other and anything in sight. Their weapons are the ones the U.S. supplied to Siad Barre, or that earlier the Soviet Union did, or that later Libya did.
Relief agencies toss out such figures as 1.5 million Somalis in danger of starvation, or 4.5 million who will face hunger if food is not forthcoming. Others dispute those figures. Who knows? Somalis by the thousands have fled to Ethiopia and Kenya, the former seized with civil war and the latter with unrest and both with drought. Now Somali boat people are desperately seizing any craft to cross the Gulf of Aden and wash ashore at Yemen, where 50,000 are in camps and newcomers are penned up on beaches to die of dehydration in the sun.
Somalia belongs to both African and Arab organizations. It should have friends. The emir of Kuwait, who gave $1.9 million to save the London Zoo for six months, would probably call himself one, as would the royal house of Saudi Arabia. Italy and the United States and Libya and Russia all at one time professed friendship.