News / Africa

Growing Numbers of Young Children Wounded, Killed in Somalia

Multimedia

Audio
Joe DeCapua

In the Somali capital Mogadishu, more and more children are becoming victims of the fighting between pro-government forces and the Islamist militia al Shabab.

The World Health Organization (WHO) says the number of weapon-related casualties at the city’s three main hospitals reached a new peak last week.  Of the nearly 1600 casualties, 46 percent were under age five.

Many ways to wound a body

“Beginning of May, we found the increase in the number of casualties under five and mortalities under five. The main types of injury are burns and shrapnel, blast injuries and bullets,” said Dr. Omar Saleh, a WHO trauma surgeon.

Many of the burns are third degree. Children suffer from disfiguring scars and infection over much of their bodies. One child had a bullet in his head.

“His body,” said Saleh, “is half paralyzed and he’s under five years old. It is a tragedy there.”

Injured children cannot be treated the same as injured adults.

Dr. Omar Saleh, WHO trauma surgeon, trained Somali health workers on caring for wounded children.
Dr. Omar Saleh, WHO trauma surgeon, trained Somali health workers on caring for wounded children.

“That was the main reason actually why I went to Mogadishu,” he said, “Usually, children under five, they have special physiology and anatomy different than adults. And that’s why there should be a different approach.”

Saleh conducted training programs at two of the major hospitals in Mogadishu, which included preparing children for surgery, special surgical techniques, post operative follow-up care and maintenance.

Because a child’s body is not fully developed, care must be taken when administering drugs. “The doses should be calculated carefully, otherwise they will die from the treatment itself,” he said.

Worst cases

“Usually, those third degree burns are a big challenge. They need a lot of transfusions. They need antibiotics. They’re liable to infection, the wound infects, and then septicemia and they die from infection,” he said.

Some children have lost an arm or a leg.

“Imagine a child under five years old who loses his hand or his leg. How is he going to live afterwards?”

None of the children are expected to be transported to other countries for special care or reconstructive surgery. Saleh said the children’s families are too poor to pay for that. However, his training classes for Somali health workers did include skin grafts, cosmetic and reconstructive surgery.

Why so many kids?

There’s a simple reason why so many children are being wounded now in the Somali capital.

“People live in Bakara market. The fighting now in Mogadishu is in Bakara market… one of the cheapest areas in Mogadishu. So imagine the IDPs [internally displaced persons] after the drought…. They come back to Mogadishu to Bakara market and they take their chances just to be able to live there. If some family was killed or something, the next day you’ll find another family staying there,” said Saleh.

The trauma surgeon said international help is needed to fund Somalia’s battered health care system. He said about $60 million has been requested, but so far, only about $16 million has been given by donors.

“This fighting in Mogadishu is far from over. It’s going to continue for some time and we need the international community to pay attention to what’s happening to do something,” he said.

The WHO said that since the beginning of 2011 about 4,000 people injured in the Somali conflict have been admitted to the capital’s three main hospitals.

You May Like

Turkey's Controversial Reform Bill Giving Investors Jitters

Homeland security reform bill will give police new powers in search, seizure, detention and arrests, while restricting the rights of suspects, their attorneys More

Audio Slideshow In Kenyan Prison, Good Grades Are Path to Freedom

Some inmates who get high marks could see their sentences commuted to non-custodial status More

'Rumble in the Jungle' Turns 40

'The Champ' knocked Foreman out to regain crown he had lost 7 years earlier when US government accused him of draft-dodging and boxing officials revoked his license More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Victorious Secularists Face Challenge to Form Government in Tunisiai
X
Henry Ridgwell
October 30, 2014 11:39 PM
Official results from Tunisia show the Islamist Ennahda party has failed to win the second free election since the so-called "Arab Spring" uprising in 2011. Ennahda, which handed power to a government of technocrats pending the elections, lost out to the secular party Nidaa Tounes. Henry Ridgwell reports from London that the relatively peaceful poll offers some hope in a volatile region.
Video

Video Victorious Secularists Face Challenge to Form Government in Tunisia

Official results from Tunisia show the Islamist Ennahda party has failed to win the second free election since the so-called "Arab Spring" uprising in 2011. Ennahda, which handed power to a government of technocrats pending the elections, lost out to the secular party Nidaa Tounes. Henry Ridgwell reports from London that the relatively peaceful poll offers some hope in a volatile region.
Video

Video Africa Tells its Story Through Fashion

In Africa, Fashion Week is a riot of colors, shapes, patterns and fabrics - against the backdrop of its ongoing struggle between nature and its fast-growing urban edge. How do these ideas translate into needle and thread? VOA’s Anita Powell visited this year’s Mercedes Benz Fashion Week Africa in Johannesburg to find out.
Video

Video Smugglers Offer Cheap Passage From Turkey to Syria

Smugglers in Turkey offer a relatively cheap passage across the border into Syria. Ankara has stepped up efforts to stem the flow of foreign fighters who want to join Islamic State militants fighting for control of the Syrian border city of Kobani. But porous borders and border guards who can be bribed make illegal border crossings quite easy. Zlatica Hoke has more.
Video

Video China Political Meeting Seeks to Improve Rule of Law

China’s communist leaders will host a top level political meeting this week, called the Fourth Plenum, and for the first time in the party’s history, rule of law will be a key item on the agenda. Analysts and Chinese media reports say the meetings could see the approval of long-awaited measures aimed at giving courts more independence and include steps to enhance an already aggressive and high-reaching anti-corruption drive. VOA’s Bill Ide has more from Beijing.
Video

Video After Decades of Pressure, Luxembourg Drops Bank Secrecy Rules

European Union finance ministers have reached a breakthrough agreement that will make it more difficult for tax cheats to hide their money. The new legislation, which had been blocked for years by countries with a reputation as tax havens, was approved last week after Luxembourg and Austria agreed to lift their vetoes. But as Mil Arcega reports, it doesn’t mean tax cheats have run out of places to keep their money hidden.
Video

Video Kobani Refugees Welcome, Turkey Criticizes, US Airdrop

Residents of Kobani in northern Syria have welcomed the airdrop of weapons, ammunition and medicine to Kurdish militia who are resisting the seizure of their city by Islamic State militants. The Turkish government, however, has criticized the operation. VOA’s Scott Bobb reports from southeastern Turkey, across the border from Kobani.

All About America

AppleAndroid