Aid group says kids at risk of dy­ing

The Intelligencer (Belleville) - - WORLD NEWS - ABDI GULED THE ASSOCIATED PRESS

MOGADISHU, So­ma­lia — Lifethreat­en­ing child mal­nu­tri­tion rates are ris­ing to alarm­ing lev­els in drought-hit So­ma­lia, the in­ter­na­tional aid group Save the Chil­dren said Thurs­day.

A new sur­vey found “very crit­i­cal” lev­els of se­vere mal­nu­tri­tion in two of six dis­tricts as­sessed in some of the worst af­fected parts of So­ma­lia.

“We are on the brink of a mas­sive catas­tro­phe in So­ma­lia with the death of three quar­ters of the coun­try’s live­stock, a rapid in­crease of chil­dren suf­fer­ing se­vere mal­nu­tri­tion and the de­ple­tion of wa­ter stores in dozens of com­mu­ni­ties,” said Has­san Saadi Noor, Save the Chil­dren’s So­ma­lia coun­try di­rec­tor, who said he fears see­ing “chil­dren dy­ing in sig­nif­i­cant num­bers.”

Less than 10 per cent of chil­dren in So­ma­lia are cur­rently reg­is­tered in a nu­tri­tion pro­gram ac­cord­ing to the study, which warns that chil­dren could start dy­ing “in the near fu­ture” un­less im­me­di­ate ac­tion is taken such as a ma­jor and rapid scal­ing up of feed­ing schemes.

“Donors have stepped up in re­cent months, how­ever such is the scale of this cri­sis that even more fund­ing is needed to ad­dress mal­nu­tri­tion di­rectly, in­clud­ing im­prov­ing ac­cess to food and wa­ter,” Noor said.

“Chil­dren must be treated for mal­nu­tri­tion now ... Famine is a dis­tinct pos­si­bil­ity for So­ma­lia. It is an ab­so­lute trav­esty that this is even con­ceiv­able when just six years ago this same re­gion was hit by a famine that killed over 250,000 peo­ple.”

The drought has left 6.2 mil­lion peo­ple — more than half of the pop­u­la­tion of So­ma­lia — in need of im­me­di­ate life­sav­ing as­sis­tance and a fur­ther 8.3 mil­lion in Kenya and Ethiopia are also need of ur­gent help, he said.

THE ASSOCIATED PRESS FILES

So­mali women dis­placed by drought ar­rive at the a camp in the Kaxda area on the out­skirts of Mogadishu, So­ma­lia. Aid group Save the Chil­dren says chil­dren are fac­ing ex­treme mal­nu­tri­tion and the coun­try is fac­ing a ma­jor catas­tro­phe.

GETTY IMAGES

Soyuz Com­man­der Fy­o­dor Yurchikhin of Roscos­mos, left, and Flight En­gi­neer Jack Fis­cher of NASA, right, wave to fam­ily and friends as they de­part the Cos­mo­naut Ho­tel launch to the In­ter­na­tional Space Sta­tion on Thurs­day.

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