Clay Aiken is urging the world not to forget about Somalia.
The American Idol runner-up and a U.N. goodwill ambassador, appealed for world attention on the war-torn and hunger-stricken country on Wednesday.
"There hasn’t been much discussion of Somalia since the early 1990s in the U.S.," Clay said during a visit to Somalia. "The American population kind of got a bad taste of Somalia in the early 90s and hasn’t really had much interest in the country since."
In the past year, thousands of Somalians have died and one million were rendered homeless after insurgent Islamists rallied against the country’s government and its Ethiopian military advisers last year. The violence and never-ending conflict has made Somalia "the most dangerous place for a child to be," Clay says.
"In the lower part of the country, southern part, I feel it’s a more desperate situation than any place we’ve ever been," he says.
The diamond in the rough is the de facto independent state of the Republic of Somaliland, located north of Somalia. In existence since 1960, Somaliland remains relatively peaceful, but its independent status has yet to be recognized. Officials are hopeful a public figure of Clay’s stature will shed more light on their difficult situation.
"In Somaliland, you really do have a sense of people who really want to help themselves, who want to do better, who want to effect change for themselves, that is very hopeful," Clay says.