Turkey has displayed remarkable sensitivity over Somalia. But if it fails to show the whole world the same sensitivity in the struggle against rapidly increasing global inequalities and poverty, we shall continue to face new Somalias.
By Ozdem Sanberk
Heart-rending scenes of the humanitarian crisis which Somalia is undergoing have directed the attention of Turkey to the African continent. Turkey’s state organizations, civil society bodies, and ordinary citizens have succeeded, with exemplary solidarity and good management, collecting three times as much aid for Somalia as the U.S. has. It is a success which once again demonstrates what a sensitive social conscience Turkey possesses and confirms that Turkish foreign policy is carried out with a firm basis of moral values in mind.
But the tragedy in Somalia is not one which can be resolved just through the help of a single country. Somalia is merely the visible face of the phenomenon of global inequality. Our world lives in a period of global inequality and poverty which the global crisis has accelerated. And this problem is steadily expanding.
Global Inequality Put in Figures
A cursory glance at the statistics is enough to give an idea of how serious the problem is. Around 70% of the world’s population has a national income per head, according to purchasing power parities, of less than $5,000 a year. The overwhelming majority of these people have an income of less than one dollar a day. Only 14% of the world’s population has an annual income of more than $20,000 a year. Those in the median band, with annual incomes of between $8,000 and $20,000, make up only 4%, i.e., there is no global middle class. The average income in the world according to purchasing power parities is $3,500 per head, and about 75% of humanity has an income below this level.
More than 40% of the world population struggles to carry on their lives with daily incomes of less than $2.73. If one ignores purchasing power parities then around a billion people are struggling to stay alive with less than one dollar a day, and nearly half the population has less than two dollars. All these figures point to the conclusion that the global economy is geographically divided into two zones. The countries of the Southern Hemisphere are six times poorer than the countries of the North. On top of that, the countries of the North have recently been gripped by a deep economic crisis.
There has to be a Joint Struggle against Global Poverty
The figures contain a clear message: the global economy has ceased to be sustainable. Economic inequality is growing steadily greater and it is being reflected in international politics as terrorism, religious fundamentalism, and extremism of every kind. And unless this structural problem is taken into account, all that is being done to combat global terrorism, extremism, and racism will be little better than constructing castles out of sand.
To conclude: The Turkish people have rushed to assist the people of Somalia, and this is an exemplary initiative of a kind which could change the lives of many other peoples in this region. But the way to rescue the international system from its chaotic structure is for Turkey to take this initiative to global platforms and press for the complete rethinking of the rapid increase in global inequality, poverty and corruption.
Director of USAK
Turkish version of this article was firstly published in September issue of USAK’s monthly journal ANALIST.