Analysis: Somalia unravels under terrorism and drought
More than 70 people died and dozens more were injured in the attack carried out by Al-Shabab, a group linked to Al-Qaeda.
Among the dead were students registering for scholarships to study in Turkey. Those fortunate enough to survive the ordeal were admitted into rundown hospitals already overflowing with victims of Somalia's food crisis.
Such terrorist attacks have made relief efforts difficult for the millions of Somalis suffering from one of the worst droughts in recent memory. Some analysts fear that a total Al-Shabab take-over of the capital Mogadishu will make relief efforts nearly impossible.
That would further exacerbate the plight of 3.7million Somalis who rely on daily assistance from international relief agencies.
Other countries in the Horn of Africa have been hit by drought, too. But because Somalia hasn't had a functioning central government in two decades, it is always the hardest hit. Somalia has faced a series of crises since the assassination of its president in 1991 by tribal warlords, after which, several failed attempts have been made to form a functioning government.
The absence of a strong central government backed by a national army has given rise to Islamic militancy, famine, international piracy, and bloodshed. The country is effectively divided into cantons of influence with the government under near daily attack from Al-Shabab and other groups. To some regional experts, Somalia has been a failed state for much of the past two decades.
Nevertheless, Somalia remains a member of both the Arab league and the Organization of the Islamic Conference (OIC), organizations with powerful states such as Saudi Arabia, Qatar and Egypt as members.
But many Somalis say they feel abandoned; the sentiment is that the Arab League could do much more to make Somalia stable. Aisha Abdirazak Ali, a Somali Alumna, feels that the Arab league can do a lot more than give out aid in times of crisis.
"The relief effort only eases the suffering, it doesn't help in preventing future crises, and only a functioning government can do that," she said.
Analysts and experts have lamented that good governance not rainfall is key in preventing food shortages.
Economist Jeffrey Sachs, the director of the Earth Institute at Columbia University, explained that sending food relief will cost up to ten times the amount that could be invested to make the region self-sustainable.
"If we look at the longer term, the idea of simply going from crisis to crisis, from devastation to devastation, is the most costly of all," he said at a recent conference.
Ubah Adan, a graduate student of Somali descent who worked with an NGO in Somalia form 2005 to 2007, says crises are usually worsened because some of the financial assistance never reaches the hardest-hit regions.
"Not a lot of money gets to the affected areas; it ends up going into neighboring countries, because that's where most of the aid agencies are set up," she said.
Ibrahim El-Nour, a political science professor, says the Somali people needn't feel left out, because the Arab League has neglected almost everybody.
"What did the Arab League say or do during the ‘Arab Spring', when the people in its member states were revolting against their dictators? So it's not just Somalia," El-Nour said.
In the meantime, both the Arab League and OIC say they are working to create a comprehensive end to Somalia's current crises. Late last month, both organizations participated in a UN-sponsored conference in which Somali leaders agreed to a ‘road map' to end transitional governance by August 2012. The conference also led to an agreement to reform parliament and hold general elections.
On the humanitarian front, the 57-member OIC chaired a "Water for Life in Somalia" conference in Cairo on October 5. The OIC plans to drill boreholes in Somalia in order to combat the acute water shortage that led to famine. OIC Secretary General, Ekmeleddin Ihsanoglu, said that 682 water wells will be drilled in 11 provinces in Somalia at a total cost of up to $82 million.