Somalia: March 14, 2004

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Although about ten percent of the population is in danger of starvation, because foreign aid groups, threatened by marauding gangs, warlords and tribal militias,  cannot deliver food, most of the country gets by. While the country is desperately poor, a million Somalis who have fled the country for North America and Europe send a billion dollars a year back to the seven million Somalis who remain at home. This money has made it possible for entrepreneurs to establish cell phone communications networks, local electricity supplies via generators and the importation of food and consumer goods. The businessmen make payoffs to local warlords to protect their operations, and simply adjust their prices to account for the cost of security. Religious and tribal councils serve as courts (when both sides agree to abide by the rulings.) Forming a new national government threatens some of these "pay for protection" arrangements. If you want to know why Somalia has not had a national government for so long, follow the money. 

 

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