‘More than 700 children have died in Somalia nutrition centres’

Hundreds of children have already died in nutrition centres across Somalia, the United Nations children’s agency (UNICEF) said on Tuesday, a day after it warned that parts of Somalia will be hit by famine in the coming months.

The Horn of Africa region is on track for a fifth-consecutive failed rainy season. In 2011, a famine in Somalia claimed more than a quarter of a million lives, most of them children.

“Some 730 children have been reported to have died in food and nutrition centres across the country between January and July this year but the numbers could be more as many deaths go unreported,” UNICEF Somalia representative Wafaa Saeed told a Geneva press briefing.

The centres are for children with severe acute malnutrition as well as other complications such as measles, cholera or malaria and are considered just a snapshot of the situation across the country.

“We don’t know the full picture. I have met many, many families whose children have died along the way (to centres)” said Victor Chinyama, the UNICEF spokesman in Mogadishu.

UNICEF said that disease outbreaks were increasing among children, with some 13,000 suspected measles cases reported in recent months of which 78 per cent were children under five years of age.

Funding for Somalia has increased in recent weeks and the United Nations’ $1.46bn appeal is now 67 per cent funded. But aid officials warned that it had come very late and that more was needed.

“We are going to be witnessing the death of children on an unimaginable scale if we don’t act fast,” said Audrey Crawford, Somalia’s country director at the Danish Refugee Council.

A United Nations-chartered ship loaded with Ukrainian wheat destined for millions at risk of starvation in Ethiopia has arrived in Djibouti, according to the World Food Programme.

The bulk carrier MV Brave Commander, which is carrying 23,000 tonnes of grain, docked in the Horn of Africa port city on Tuesday, two weeks after leaving a Black Sea port in Ukraine.

“We have officially docked! The first WFP ship to carry Ukrainian grain since February has just arrived in Djibouti,” WFP executive director David Beasley said on Twitter. “Now, let’s get this wheat offloaded and on to Ethiopia.” -Reuters

Show More
Back to top button