The Anglo-Ethiopian Society

Book Launch - The Famine Next Door

Benny Dembitzer

Tuesday 30th October 2018

7:00pm, Khalili Lecture Theatre, Main Building, SOAS, Russell Square, London WC1H 0XG - Public lecture (all welcome)

Benny Dembitzer is a controversial economist and activist who will argue that the biblical scale of migration across the Mediterranean into Europe is the result of decades of misunderstanding and misreading of what is happening on the ground by the great minds in the international agencies, donor governments, international NGOs, academia and thinktanks over the last 50 years.

The reason why so many millions of people are trying to leave their homes and villages and cities across sub-Saharan Africa is not that they see Europe as the Promised Land. They know the terrific challenges ahead - crossing the Sahara, having to rely on pitiless militias to cross into Libya, then on other militias to try to cross the Med, only to spend years in camps in Italy and Greece. They know that they face the prospect of ending up in the hand of the slave traffickers in Libya if they cannot pay or the Mafia or Islamic extremists and then years of second rate living in Northern or Southern Europe.

The reason they leave is that they cannot live where they are. Climate change, population explosion, corrupt and incompetent governments, multinational companies free to destroy their markets, the push to produce more commodities for exports that even the IMF has agreed are hitting worsening terms of trade - all of that is starving rural peoples of Africa into leaving.

We are all complicit in this tragedy by not making a serious stand. It will all get much worse. The North is organising more conferences and issuing more glossy reports. The South is starving and trying to escape.The author argues that we have forgotten the basic lesson that Amartya Sen taught us so many years ago; starvation is caused by denying the poorest access to food.

The Chair of the evening's discussion is Professor Myles Wickstead who has long experience of international development and Africa. He has been a senior civil servant in both DFID and the FCO; was UK Ambassador to Ethiopia and the African Union; served on the Board of the World Bank; and was Head of Secretariat to the Commission for Africa. He is Visiting Professor (International Relations) at King's College London. His book 'Aid and Development: A Brief Introduction' was published by Oxford University Press in 2015.

Capacity at the venue is limited, so please reserve your place soon to avoid disappointment.

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