The Indian Ocean Rim Association (IORA)  Summit  was  held  in Jakarta from March 5 to 7, 2017, which coincided with the 20 years of its establishment. One of the summit  results is the  IORA Concord, approved by all delegates on  the last day of the conference.  

The objectives of this organization itself  are the improvement of economic relations and the welfare of its members,  consisting of 21 countries on the edge of the Indian Ocean, 12 in Asia Oceania and 19 in Africa. An  IORA member country from Africa which was present in Jakarta is Somalia.

The situation in Somalia is currently of a great concern. Last Tuesday (28/2), the President of Somalia Mohamed Abdullahi Farmajo declared the drought that hit the country a national disaster. It was    caused partly by the El Nino weather phenomenon which  effects impinged Eastern and Southern Africa region, causing   a drop in  food production. At least 3 million people are  threatened by food shortages.

Only a week after  the disaster declaration, 110 people were reportedly starved to death within two days and about 50 thousand children are in danger of perished . The Prime Minister of Somalia, Hassan Khaire, on  Saturday (4/3) announced this  in Bay, Western Somalia. To seek help, thousands of people are flocking  to the capital Mogadishu.

The United Nations itself had previously stated that 5 million people in Somalia needed  emergency food aid. The country along with Nigeria, South Sudan and Yemen, were  identified by the United Nations as the four countries at risk of severe famine. Meanwhile, previously, a British Disasters Emergency Committee, comprising 13 humanitarian aid agencies had also reported the occurrence of the disaster.

It was not the first time  Somalia experienced  food crisis like this. In 2010-2012, the famine that hit Somalia resulted in nearly 260 thousand people died. 20 years earlier, in 1992, the same disaster left nearly 220 thousand lost their lives.

Fellow IORA member countries certainly can not let such adversity befell Somalia. The drought  should become  a common concern. Indonesia that  now is occupying  the chairmanship of  IORA should play a role to encourage other member states to help Somalia. Keep in mind, the impacts of El Nino that hit East and South Africa are also possible  in any other region in the world. If one of the IORA goals is the cooperation among member states then this is the right time to prove it.


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