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Life-threatening Child Malnutrition rates rising to alarming levels in drought-hit Somalia, may lead to Famine

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Newly displaced Somali mother Bisharo Ali Sidow, 27, gives water to her malnourished son Hassan Hussein Ali, at a camp in the Sahal area on the outskirts of Mogadishu, Somalia Saturday, April 8, 2017. Somalia's current drought is threatening half of the country's population, or about 6 million people, according to the United Nations and while aid agencies have scaled up efforts they say more support is urgently needed. (AP Photo/Farah Abdi Warsameh) VOA
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Life-threatening 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.”

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Less than 10 percent 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,” said Noor. “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. (VOA)

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2 War-Stricken Towns In Somalia Finally Receive Health care : UN

It is likely many of these displaced people will decide to return to their communities now that the life-saving aid they need can be had closer to home.

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hunger, health care
IOM delivers emergency and essential health services to Bulla Gaduud and Gobweyn, areas recently liberated by the government in Lower Juba region of south-eastern Somalia. VOA

The UN Migration Agency has begun providing life-saving health care to two Somali towns previously inaccessible because of war and conflict.

Tens of thousands of people in the towns of Gobweyn and Bulla Gaduud have been deprived of life-saving health care for nearly three decades. These areas have been too dangerous for aid workers to reach because of the never-ending cycles of war and conflict in the area.

In recent months, International Organization for Migration spokesman, Joel Millman says government forces have succeeded in subduing the armed groups that have made life a misery for local inhabitants. This, he says has opened up these areas to outside help.

hunger, health care
Malnourished and displaced Somali children sit in a tent in their camp on the outskirts of Mogadishu, Somalia. VOA

“For the past 27 years, war and conflict have made healthcare access difficult or impossible in many parts of the country. Now these communities have access to vaccinations, malaria treatment, antenatal care for pregnant mothers, malnutrition screenings and referrals, among other essential services,” Millman said.

Millman says aid agencies who finally were able to reach these towns were dismayed by the prevailing conditions. He says they found high levels of malnutrition and extremely poor immunization coverage.

hunger, health care
A Somali woman walks through a camp of people displaced from their homes elsewhere in the country by the drought, shortly after dawn in Qardho, Somalia, March 9, 2017. Source: VOA NEWS

Because the towns had no humanitarian services, he says many people had abandoned their villages. He says they were living in overcrowded settlements in far-away urban centers where medical care was available.

Also Read: Somalia Calls To Outlaw Female Genital Mutilation

He says it is likely many of these displaced people will decide to return to their communities now that the life-saving aid they need can be had closer to home. (VOA)