Facebook Instagram Twitter YouTube

Somalia Ranks Second to Last in Global Health Security. Why is the U.S. Bombing it During the Pandemic?

The U.S. has intensified its air raids against Somalia during the pandemic, exacerbating the country’s humanitarian crisis. We must demand an end to military interventions and direct resources to fight the Coronavirus pandemic.

Otto Fors

April 29, 2020
Facebook Twitter Share
Photograph by Mohamed Abdiwahab / AFP / Getty, 2017

While the Coronavirus crisis unfolds across the world causing unprecedented suffering, the U.S. has expanded its vicious air war against Somalia. Since the start of this year, the U.S. has conducted 39 airstrikes, compared to the 36 strikes conducted during the entirety of Barack Obama’s presidency. While the U.S.’s bombing campaign against Somalia is often described as hidden, it has taken a tremendous human toll. It is especially devastating for a country with woefully inadequate health resources to confront the Coronavirus. 

As of this week, Somalia has 390 confirmed cases of Coronavirus, a number which is expected to increase. Due to decades of military conflict abetted by U.S. foreign intervention targeting Al-Shabaab, 2.6 million people in Somalia are internally displaced and crowded into settlements with inadequate water, sanitation, and basic hygiene access. These conditions, which preclude recommended preventative measures such as social distancing and hand-washing, are a tinderbox of disease transmission. 

The long-standing conflict in Somalia has likewise decimated healthcare infrastructure, exacerbated by U.S. involvement. Somalia ranks 194th out of 195 countries in global health security. It has no ventilators, and only 15 ICU beds for a population of 15 million people, not to mention the shortage of more basic medical resources such as oxygen. Large-scale Coronavirus infection, which seems increasingly likely due to the humanitarian crisis in the country, will be devastating. 

Nonetheless, the U.S. has been steadily increasing its military engagements both in Somalia and around the world. In December, Congress passed a staggering $738 billion defense budget to support the country’s military involvement in  80 countries. Somalia is one of seven countries where the U.S. is conducting direct air and drone strikes, and is home to five U.S. military bases, the second most in Africa. Military engagement in Somalia is poised to continue increasing despite calls by UN Secretary-General António Guterres to implement ceasefires globally to focus efforts on suppressing the Coronavirus crisis. 

The dire situation within the U.S. as a result of the pandemic has only further proven that the government must spend resources on public health, rather than on its war machine. Across the country, people are protesting the lack of PPE, and many hospitals are at their breaking point. Since the start of the pandemic, over 9 million people in the U.S. have lost their health insurance, and over 26 million people have filed for unemployment claims. Even before this crisis, 8.5% of Americans lacked health insurance. The obscene $738 billion defense budget could be used to fund hospitals and ICU beds, particularly in under-resourced areas, and provide much-needed support for vulnerable people and those who have lost their jobs.  

During the pandemic, U.S. military violence has been undeterred by the health crisis. In addition to air raids in Somalia, the U.S. has bombed Iran, and the Saudi-led coalition’s bombing campaign against Yemen – supported by the U.S. – has also continued. These actions exacerbate the humanitarian crises in these countries, and seriously hamper efforts to tackle the Coronavirus pandemic. 

When the capitalists say that there is no money to help hospitals in need, or to provide relief for unemployed people, it is a lie. The military budget should be immediately directed towards combating the pandemic and to aid the struggling working class. 

Facebook Twitter Share

Otto Fors

Otto is a college professor in the New York area.

Guest Posts

Victory for the UAW at Volkswagen Plant in Chattanooga Represents a Potential Turning Point for Labor

Following a year of strong union struggles, a Volkswagen plant in Tennessee has voted to unionize with the UAW. This victory, in the traditionally anti-union South, shows that the terrain of labor struggle in the U.S. is shifting.

Joey Eichler

May 17, 2024

University of Michigan Campus Protestors Are Keeping the Focus on the Genocide in Gaza

For the past two weeks, the encampment at the University of Michigan has been a site for collective learning and broad public information campaigns.

Ryan McCarty

May 8, 2024

Statement: The People’s Art Institute Denounces Chicago Police Attack on Student Encampment

On May 4, the administration of the School of the Art Institute of Chicago (SAIC) and Art Institute of Chicago (AIC) sent Chicago Police Department (CPD) and SWAT police to attack a student encampment. We republish the encampment’s statement recounting the events and denouncing the repression.

Echoes of Resilience: Even Beyond Gaza Palestinian Families Are Torn Apart

A nurse from Nablus in the West Bank talks about how the war has affected work and even in vitro fertilization.


Tents at the Rutgers University in NJ during the Palestine encampment in May, 2024

What the Movement for Palestine Can Learn from the Rutgers Encampment Deal

The Gaza solidarity encampment at Rutgers New Brunswick ended in a deal between the administration and a negotiations team at the camp. It’s been a highly controversial decision. The experience at Rutgers shows the need for a truly democratic, bottom-up fight for Palestine.

Jason Koslowski

May 17, 2024
Pro-Palestine encampment at UCLA in May, 2024.

“The Working Class has the Power to Stop this Genocide”: Interview with a UAW 4811 Rank and Filer

On Thursday May 15, 48,000 UAW Academic workers voted to authorize a strike, the largest academic workers union in the country to do so. Left Voice interviewed UAW 4811 member Peter Ross about what sparked this historic vote, and the labor movement’s fight for Palestine

Julia Wallace

May 16, 2024
A rally in Brooklyn, people hold up UAW signs

University of California Academic Workers Authorize Strike to Defend the Right to Protest

48,000 workers are one step closer to going on strike to demand that charges and academic sanctions be dropped for the students and faculty who protest the genocide in Palestine and UC’s financial and academic ties to Israel.

Madeleine Freeman

May 16, 2024

Nakba Day: CUNY Faculty Stand Against Repression and for Palestine

On Nakba Day, faculty across different CUNY schools mobilized for Palestine and against the repression of protesters. The actions, organized through an assembly of workers, point toward the solidarity needed to continue and expand the student movement and fight for a free Palestine.