Outmanned, Outgunned in Sierra Leone: Posted May 9, 2000

New York Times op-ed The drama in Sierra Leone, where a rebel group is holding 500 United Nations peacekeepers hostage, is all the more distressing because of the circumstances: the soldiers wandered into the West African bush with outdated maps, got lost, and then were captured and stripped of their weapons by the very guerrillas […]

The Faces of Famine: Posted July 27, 1998

Over and over, the pornography of African suffering simply rewards the oppressors Newsweek By Michael Maren Here we go again. skeletal, starving Africans are back in the news, this time from Sudan. If you are moved–and you’d have to be heartless not to be–operators are standing by to take your check or credit-card number. If […]

The Mysterious Death of Ilaria Alpi – part 1: Posted May 12, 1998

Some people say she had information about the Italian military selling guns to the warlords. Some say she had information about the torture and killing of Somali prisoners by Italian soldiers. And now some people say she had information about al Qaeda in Somalia. All I know is this: by Michael Maren Forty five minutes […]

The Mysterious Death of Ilaria Alpi – part 2: Posted March 13, 1998

Dominico Vulpiani tears a sheet from his memo pad and sketches a map for me. He draws a road and two small rectangles to indicate vehicles. Then he draws little circles in the rectangles to show where everyone was sitting: Miran in the front seat with the driver, Ilaria in the back behind Miran, the […]

The Might Interview: Posted March 3, 1997

“A complete waste of money that succeeds primarily at keeping westerners employed” Michael Maren went to Kenya in 1977 to work for the Peace Corps, and has spent much of the last twenty years in Africa, first as a development and aid worker, and later as a journalist. He has witnessed a wide range of […]

Save the Children: A Different Kind of Child Abuse: Posted December 12, 1996

Save the Children’s fund-raising strategy is at odds with its goal of helping children. As communities often receive a small portion of the sponsor’s contributed dollar, they are obviously going to ask questions about where the money goes. All the explaining in the world would not make this question go away or our own strategy […]

WAR AS PEACE: How the Army and the Aid Agencies are Reinventing Militarism: Posted December 13, 1994

The Village Voice By Michael Maren Peacekeeping ’94 is dedicated to the memory of all those military and humanitarian aid personnel who lost their lives in the service of peace–lest we forget.   WASHINGTON, D.C.–The words were printed on a placard hanging along one side of the entrance to the exhibition hall. On the other […]

Spoiled: Mogadishu Post Card: Posted December 12, 1994

The New Republic By Michael Maren Acetylene torches tint the night sky on a sandy back street in Mogadishu, less than 200 yards from the fortified United Nations compound. Technicians working for faction leader Mohammed Farah Aidid are mounting heavy caliber machine guns and rocket launchers to the rear ends of Land Cruisers and pickup […]

Leave Somalia Alone: Posted July 6, 1994

Copyright 1994 The New York Times Company   The New York Times   July 6, 1994 Leave Somalia Alone By Michael Maren Michael Maren, who has worked for international aid organizations in Africa, is writing a book about the origin of the conflicts in Somalia. . Once again, United Nations peacekeepers are crouched behind sandbags […]

A Journalist in Mogadishu: Posted December 12, 1993

©Copyright 1993 by Michael Maren. This is a loose compilation of impressions and reflections on journalism gathered during in Mogadishu in 1993. Michael Maren “Now we are calling this area Bosnia,” Ali says as our car presses through the crowded intersection. Osman steers to the far left side of the road, squeezing between an idling […]

Spinning Dunkirk: Mogadishu Post Card: Posted December 6, 1993

The Pentagon quits Somalia. The New Republic By Michael Maren Mogadishu Last Sunday, Col. Steven Rausch concluded his daily 5:00 p.m. briefing to the Mogadishu press corps with the following announcement: “We have two media opportunities for you tomorrow. At 3:00 p.m., rescue training at Victory Base and at 4:00 p.m. tank gunnery at range […]

Good Will and Its Limits in Somalia: Posted August 27, 1993

New York Times op-ed Four hundred U.S. Army Rangers arrived in Somalia yesterday, bolstering the 25,000 U.N. troops already there as part of a peacemaking effort that will cost more than $1.5 billion this year. At the same time, the U.N. and private development groups are scaling back handouts of free food, replacing them with […]

The Food-Aid Racket: Posted August 12, 1993

Harper’s Magazine by Michael Maren From a speech delivered in March by Michael Maren to the Camel Breeders, a group of Cornell University graduate students from various disciplines who are preparing to work in international development. Maren worked for the Peace Corps, Catholic Relief Services, and the United States Agency for International Development between 1977 […]

How the Culture of Aid Led to the Tragedy of Somalia: Posted January 19, 1993

From The Village Voice, January 19, 1993   by Michael Maren The problem started with the camel guts spilling from the abattoir north of Mogadishu. As the butchers shoveled loads of entrails off the concrete slaughter blocks into the Indian Ocean, sharks swarmed in for the feast. And when they’d eaten the food they turned […]

U.S. Callousness and Mozambique Massacres: Posted August 22, 1987

New York Times op-ed News of two massacres in Mozambique in the last two months, in which more than 400 people were killed, seems to have made little impression on the American public. Had the incidents occurred in a refugee camp in Lebanon or a village in Central America, they surely would have received more […]