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My heart goes out to the family of the Bernama TV cameraman who died yesterday after being allegedly shot by a stray bullet while on a humanitarian mission in Somalia.He left a wife and two young children. I can understand if the man died defending his country against enemies but I find it hard to ingest, for such a person being roped in to a so-called humanitarian aid mission in one of the most violent countries in the world. Whatever you want to label his death as, it cannot compensate for the loss suffered by his family. He is a non-combatant and he probably did not appreciate the extreme danger he put himself in. The risk is just unacceptable if only he had known.

The late Noramfaizul Mohd Nor

This Somali situation is incomparable to those disaster places the late cameraman had been before like the New Zealand earthquake, the Pakistani floods or even the Gaza conflict. It is far more dangerous and uncivilized.

Somalia has been a failed state without a workable central government for many years since the collapse of the government led by President Siad Barre in 1991 and the accompanying civil war. Starting in 2004 Transitional Federal Institutions were beginning to be put in place as the basis to the foundation of the central government of Somalia.

Currently the international community recognizes the Transitional Federal Government (TFG) now administering a greater part of the country. Gradually the country is working towards re-establishment of public services ,law and order. Yet pockets of the deposed earlier government elements of Union of Islamic Court (UIC) opposition still exist. Radical Islamic insurgents and armed militia including Al-Shabaab,continue to fight against TFG. The situation in Somalia is highly unsafe.

Armed Somali Militia

I believe Putra 1 Malaysia Club has good intention in bringing humanitarian aid to Somalia using government resources like BERNAMA,The Military and others. Unfortunately I also think that the Club, in this instance is foolhardy. Going into a “war-zone” where even the most motivated of Red Cross and Medicine sans Frontiers volunteers have more or less shied away from is a high-risk humanitarian exercise.

Granted the famine in that country is causing misery to million, our humanitarian aid is but a drop in the ocean designed more for publicity than sustainability. Malaysia doesn’t have the capacity neither the capability for longer term aid which is what is needed by Somalia which relatively speaking, doesn’t really have a functioning government. Aid to Somalia is being organized by the United Nation through its World Food Aid Program but the political clout is lacking in protecting our “volunteers” from combatants who refuse to recognize humanitarian aid personnel.

The famine in Somalia is not only geographical but geopolitical as well and this has made it more problematic with aids not reaching to the starving due to political hindrances, poorly equipped arm forces and fledgeling weak central government.

In such a chaotic and dangerous state, to me, it is not worth sending “volunteers” there and hence avoid collateral damage. We may however donate in kind instead. Call me a chicken if you will but an unnecessary death of a civilian whose children’s lives are altered forever is far worse a consequence in peaceful Malaysia.

The wife and young children he left behind

My condolences to the family of BernamaTV cameraman Noramfaizul Mohd Nor and may he rest in peace.

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