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Somalia a victim of politics, Duke expert says
Assistant professor of public policy, Duke University
Bellemare studies development policy and agricultural development.
"Tens of thousands have died and more than a half-million others are at risk in Somalia due to the food scarcity caused by a sharp increase in food prices since the end of last year. But that scarcity alone isn't enough to cause a famine: as Amartya Sen, the 1998 Nobel laureate for economics, famously put it, famines do not occur in relatively free countries. In the case of southern Somalia, much of the blame lies with local politics and the way al-Shabaab has prevented people from leaving the area and hindered relief efforts. That this is occurring now, when we knew about rising food prices and the local politics of southern Somalia months ago, suggests that the international community is once again being reactive rather than having been proactive."