Somali children dying as families flee

Somali children waiting for food relief

Somali children waiting for food relief

Aid agencies say Somali children under the age of five  are facing starvation as they flee with their families across the border into Kenya and Ethiopia.

The United Nations refugee agency (UNHCR) says severely malnourished children are dying within 24 hours of reaching its refugee camps.

The agency says the situation is Somalia, which has been triggered by drought and civil war is rapidly degenerating into what it calls “a human tragedy of unimaginable proportions.”

Melissa Fleming from UNHCR says the agency is sending 100 tones of relief aid to assist the displaced Somalis.

"The violent situation inside Somalia makes it very difficult if not impossible in certain areas for aid agencies and UNHCR to reach these people with assistance where they live. Many families tell us that they came to a point exhausted virtually all of their resources – they had basically nothing left, and facing starvation, they walked for days over the desert, if not several weeks at times, arriving in really, truly appalling state of health. We’re increasingly hearing reports of children below the age of five dying of hunger and exhaustion during the journey. What is the most tragic for us to witness is there are children who do arrive who finally reach safety - we are trying to help them, but they are in such a weakened state that despite our emergency care and therapeutic feeding they are dying within 24 hours."

UNHCR estimates that a quarter of Somalia's 7.5 million population is either internally displaced or living outside the country as refugees.

135,000 Somalis have fled the country this year and sought refuge in already crowded refugee camps in Kenya and Ethiopia. 

Duration 55"

Filed under Today's News.
UN Radio Daily News Programme
UN Radio Daily News Programme
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