IN RECENT years the specter of famine has become painfully familiar in world news reports. From Ethiopia and elsewhere have come unforgettable images of suffering. In 1992 world attention was riveted on Somalia’s tragic victims of famine, caused by drought and war. The International Herald Tribune reported in September 1992: “No one knows how many Somalis have died, but the Red Cross puts the figure at above 100,000. Hundreds, if not thousands, die every day.”
The figures do little to convey the misery and pain of the individuals involved. Yvette Pierpaoli, European representative of Refugees International, wrote in the UN magazine Refugees: “In New York or Geneva, the refugee question appears quite straightforward; figures are cited and the string of zeros attached to them is difficult to grasp. But thousands of miles away, on the frontiers of countries no longer under control, emotion seizes you by the throat and the magnitude of the suffering makes you want to scream.”
While the Red Cross says that its efforts to aid Somalia represent its biggest ever humanitarian relief operation, many observers complain that the general picture is one of too little aid, too late. Pierpaoli laments: “Donor countries are reticent, tired of supporting an Africa which is disintegrating. . . . They blame Africans for their poor management, the greed of their leaders, the seemingly endless conflicts.”
The Bible foretold a time when there would be food shortages “in one place after another.” These food shortages, together with many other developments, such as wars, earthquakes, and pestilences, indicate that the Kingdom of God is near. (Luke 21:11, 31) The Bible further shows that under this benevolent Kingdom of God, there will be an abundance of food for all humankind. “There will come to be plenty of grain on the earth,” wrote the psalmist. “On the top of the mountains there will be an overflow.”—Psalm 72:16.