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Let them eat Khat

Mogadishu was like no other place I had ever been. I finally understood what ‘anarchic’ meant. Violence drifted through the muggy air like a malignant smoke. The only way to travel was to hire a pick-up truck overflowing with militia – nomads with automatic weapons.

Everyone chewed the narcotic of choice – Khat. Their cheeks bulging with the foul leave, teeth stained a deep reddish-brown.

My team of hired guns included a twelve year old boy in flip flops carrying a fifty caliber machine gun, replete with bandoliers. It also had the unarmed person among them – the translator. Always a melancholic university graduate whose life had – like everyone else’s – turned to hell in the clan warfare following the ouster of dictator Siad Barre.

I have to admit, I liked it.

Until, that is, we reached the tiny town of Baidoa, set in the non-descript Somali bush. That was simply hell. The reek of death was everywhere, and children’s eyes lost the fight to live before your very eyes.

As the idiotic greed of Somalia’s clans ensures the war continued until once again, nineteen years later, the disaster is repeated. There is no Siad Barre,l but instead gutless and greedy pols and a bunch of ‘looterers’  pretending to represent the will of their god.

I might, should I find the emotional energy, write in some depth about my experiences there in 1992, 1993 and 1994.  Until then, here are some images .

The room in Baidoa where the aid agencies left the kids they could not save to die. 1992

The room in Baidoa where kids were left to die. 1992

A father closes the eyes of his daughter who had just died while awaiting help at an NGO station, Baidoa. He walked off into the distance.

A father closes the eyes of his daughter who had just died while awaiting help at an NGO station, Baidoa. He walked off into the distance.

 

 

People desperate for water, Baidoa. There was never enough to go around.

People desperate for water, Baidoa. There was never enough to go around.

Somalis outside a distribution point hoping they will get a chance for water and food

Somalis outside a distribution point hoping they will get a chance for water and food

Fallen grain is eaten raw after a delivery of food aid, Baidoa.

Fallen grain is eaten raw after a delivery of food aid, Baidoa.

A woman leads a line of starving children to get food. Berdale.

A woman leads a line of starving children to get food. Berdale.

  • Steve Tye

    Greg, these images are heartbreaking, but compulsive. It’s important that the outside world sees such photos as these, so that we can begin to understand the wrongs that are committed in a cruel world.

  • Marinovichg

    Thanks Steve, I too think they should be seen

  • Heathersitton

    I hope that this time around with the famine almost 20 years later that we as a world has learned from mistakes and are doing a better job. Especially not to put children in a room to die as if they don’t count or matter just because you think that they may be too far gone. Everybody deserves to eat, to get the medicine that may save their life and just a chance to live.

  • Marinovichg

    we wish it could be so

  • Heathersitton

    Are you still photographing in Africa? I was just wondering if the situation is any better? I look to the news to get updates but there really are none. It is as if the continent does not exist most days.

  • DylanT

    Hi i have allways admired your work i have spent some time in South Africa what a colourful country! your work continues to prompt thought and inspire aspiring photographers including me is there any advise you could give me to get into conflict photography ?

  • t. winkler

    Hi,
    thank you for sharing this information,

    since nobody here in germany ever reports the situation in somalia or the famine.
    there was once an article about pirates, thats it.

    i dont want to click the “LIKE” button but i will share your site.

    thank you for doing this!

  • http://www.gregmarinovich.com Greg Marinovich

    Hi
    Thanks for reading

  • Waltzib

    “and children’s eyes lost the fight to live before your very eyes.” this is a very powerful description of a powerless moment. It’s an ‘image’ as compelling as your photos.

  • Dougwager

    Just watched Bang Bang club and looked you up. Amazing photos of devastating situations. Oh, what we take for granted while people starve and die of thirst. Even the small village I visited in the Transkei that was devistated by AIDS was in far better shape comparatively.

  • http://www.gregmarinovich.com Greg Marinovich

    its true. we need to know what is happening

  • Patrick

    On attend toujours que le pire arrive avant d’agir…

  • Fatima behboudi

    The bitter and painful / Thanks for sharing

  • Pierre

    I’m amazed by your determination to show the world a truth that is ussualy brushed under the carpet by mainstream media. Just watched the Bang Bang Club which obviously describes ‘just’ one of the many episodes you have seen in your line of work.
    Doesn’t it makes you loose faith in humanity all together when you witness so much atrocities?

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