The World Health Organization (WHO) is warning that Somalia, a country that is riddled with civil strife, a strong Al-Qaeda presence, and has been without a strong central government since 1991, has many regions sliding closer to famine. The Voice of America notes:
She says up to 50 percent of children in southern regions of Somalia are malnourished. And, adults too are malnourished because of lack of food. She says bad nutrition leads to bad health. She says there is a remarkable increase in measles and waterborne diseases also are on the rise.
WHO has recorded more than 50,000 cases of acute watery diarrhea and cholera since January. Everard says there is no breakdown as to the number of cholera cases. But, adds the disease is under control. She says there is no cholera epidemic because WHO has set up a good monitoring system. Two days ago, the United Nations declared two regions in southern Somalia as suffering from famine. Everard says a third region also is affected and famine appears to be spreading to other regions as well. “We have declared only three regions in south Somalia. But, the five others are on the brink of also being seen as a famine. So, these areas indeed appear to be coming to a full-blown famine if we are not responding from now on to this enormous crisis,” she said.
ASEAN continues to debate the South China Sea problem between China, the Philippines, and Vietnam. The BBC explains this fight better than I can. Basically, it has all the elements of international intrigue: oil reserves, a large superpower asserting itself, and small countries standing up for the little guy.
The Russian sleeping bear should be moving towards the awaking Asian Panda. Russia has a complicated history with Asia, especially Japan after a 1905 civil war over Manchuria and some bickering with China over Siberia. The Soviet-Chinese power struggle for Asian dominance during the Cold War era didn’t help matters either. Sergei Karaganov still says Russia should move towards Asia despite its troubled history. Here is his proposal:
That goal requires that Russia rely on its real competitive advantages. Consider basic foodstuffs. Rising food prices plague most of Asia, while Russia’s potential for expanding grain output is enormous. According to some estimates, Russia could increase its arable area by 10 million hectares, and its crop yields by 250%, thereby boosting grain exports dramatically.But an even larger vision is needed. A modern Asian strategy for Russia – call it “Project Siberia” – should combine Russian political sovereignty with foreign capital and technologies. Investment should come not only from China, but also from the United States, Japan, South Korea, the ASEAN countries, and the EU, all of which are keen to prevent China’s exclusive dominance east of the Urals. The workforce can be found to undertake the development projects in Russia’s east, including clusters of high-yielding agricultural production for grain, fodder, meat, poultry, pork, and possibly beer. There are still a few million surplus workers in Central Asia. Seasonal workers can be brought in from India and Bangladesh. And, yes, some will have to be brought in from China.
At the Association of South East Asian Nations Security Regional Forum, both North and South Korea held sideline meetings addressing disarmament talks in the Korean peninsula. The prospects between the two diplomats was pretty positive according to reports. Usually, these talks get delayed because North Korea acts out in some provocative manner. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, who is at the forum herself, welcomes the idea, but also says the U.S. want so actual meetings before promises are made.
Besides international peace, both parties have a domestic reason for wanting to achieve results in these talks. The Associated Press reports:
Pyongyang wants to achieve a diplomatic breakthrough and outside aid ahead of the 2012 centennial of the birth of North Korea founder Kim Il Sung, which it is promoting as a milestone in its history. South Korea’s conservative government also doesn’t want be blamed for leaving the disarmament talks suspended and wants to report progress before it leaves office in early 2013, Kim said.
The crucial point here: international negotiations work better if there is a domestic benefit by both parties involved.