Samatar appears on PBS' NewsHour

By Hattie Stahl

Ahmed Samatar, dean of the Institute for Global Citizenship, appeared on PBS’ “NewsHour with Jim Lehrer” Monday night. Accompanied by Stephen Morrison, director of the Africa program at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, Samatar answered questions on the crisis in Somalia and the response of the international community. NewsHour correspondent Jeffrey Brown asked Samatar if he believed that the rise in the number of displaced people was directly related to the civil war and the fighting.

“There’s no question that nearly a million people now are displaced internally,” he responded. “And this is directly a consequence of the resistance to the Ethiopian occupation and the incompetence and the illegitimacy of the transitional federal government.”

The international community, Samatar said, can respond to the crisis primarily by ensuring humanitarian workers access to the hundreds of thousands now displaced. He also called for the removal of Ethiopian troops, the replacement of the transitional government with a neutral international African group, and outside financial support for the rebuilding phase.

“It’s very important that we begin to find a way to get [the Ethiopians] to disengage,” Morrison said later in the segment.

“I think the U.S. has a very important role in this,” he said. “On the humanitarian side, the U.S. is putting about $90 million a year into Somalia, about half the current flow.”

“The U.S. could step up its political engagement directly and through the Security Council,” he added as the segment ended.