Despite the recent surge in media coverage, pirates and foreign toxic waste are hardly the most pressing issue facing the fledgling Somali government. In fact, according to a recent Refugees International report, Somalia presents a near perfect storm of failed-state conditions: a barely-functioning central government, a plethora of opposition groups, rampant crime and corruption, a persistent drought, a dependence on imported food aid, and a displacement of almost two million refugees and IDPs - about one-fifth of the population:
Somalis live in some of the worst conditions imaginable -- from the slums of Aden to the cramped camps in Dadaab, from drought-stricken villages in south central Somalia to teeming neighborhoods in Nairobi. Somalis die at sea while trying to reach Yemen, are threatened by boys and men with guns in Mogadishu, and face demands for bribes and harassment while trying to find asylum in Kenya. Almost nowhere can vulnerable Somalis receive the humanitarian assistance and protection that are their rights.