Wednesday, 14 September 2011 06:19

SOMALIA: 80 Percent of Refugees From the Country Are Children - UN


Children continue to bear the brunt of famine, constituting half of all people facing hunger in the south of the country.

The UN has stated that life-saving therapeutic feeding programs need to be urgently expanded, or tens of thousands of children could die in the coming weeks.

The United Nations reports that as of August, 190,000 children are estimated to have the most severe level of malnutrition, which means that they are nine times more likely to die than a healthy child.

If these children can be reached with emergency therapeutic feeding, they can recover quite quickly. However, if they are not reached then they could die.

The United Nations reported that famine has spread to a sixth region in Somalia. It says a total of 750,000 people are facing starvation over the next four months as famine conditions continue to spread.

Hundreds of thousands of Somalis have gone to Ethiopia and Kenya in search of food and other assistance, and more than 80 percent of these refugees are children.

This statistic is even higher in Kobe camp, where children comprise 88.6 per cent of the estimated refugee population of more than 25,000. Most families are female-headed households with large numbers of children, including young relatives or orphans, and there are many aid workers concerned with the large amount of children who arrived unaccompanied or who have become separated from their family.

It was reported that the number of unaccompanied children could be as high as 2,500 in the four camps in Ethiopia. Many families are becoming separated as Somali men choose not to travel for fear of being forcibly conscripted into an armed group.

Many are also staying back to care for a few livestock who remain, and some lack enough money for the whole family to go so they are sending their wives and children.

According to the UN, it is crucial that aid be distributed in large amounts and as quickly as possible inside Somalia to maintain the recent downward trend in the number of refugees arriving in Ethiopia and Kenya.


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