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

Jihadist Assassin says Goal of Tunisia Murders Was Chaos

Abu Muqatil at-Tunusi’s remarks in a propaganda interview also cast light on attack on Bardo Museum More

Russia Denies License to Tatar-Language TV Station in Crimea

OSCE official says denial shows 'politically selective censorship of free and independent voices in Crimea is continuing' More

Kenyan Startups Tackle Expensive Remittances Through Bitcoin

Some think services could give Western Union a run for its money, though others say it’s still got a long way to go 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.
For Obama, It's More Business Than Friendships With World Leadersi
X
Aru Pande
April 01, 2015 9:09 PM
The rift between President Barack Obama and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has put a spotlight on the importance of the American leader’s personal relationships with other world leaders and what role such friendships play in foreign policy. VOA's Aru Pande reports.
Video

Video For Obama, It's More Business Than Friendships With World Leaders

The rift between President Barack Obama and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has put a spotlight on the importance of the American leader’s personal relationships with other world leaders and what role such friendships play in foreign policy. VOA's Aru Pande reports.
Video

Video Buhari: Nigeria Has ‘Embraced Democracy’

Nigeria woke up to a new president-elect Wednesday, Muhammadu Buhari. But people say democracy is the real winner as the country embarks on its first peaceful handover of power since the end of military rule in 1999. VOA’s Anne Look reports from Abuja.
Video

Video Tiny Camera Sees Inside Blood Vessels

Ahead of any surgical procedure, doctors try to learn as much as possible about the state of the organs they plan to operate on. A new camera developed in the Netherlands can now make that easier - giving surgeons an incredibly detailed look inside blood vessels, all the way to the patient’s heart. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Latin American Groups Seek Fans at Texas Music Festival

Latin American music groups played all over Austin, Texas, during the recent South by Southwest festival, and some made fans out of locals as well as people from around the world who had come to hear music. Such exposure can boost such groups' image back home. VOA’s Greg Flakus reports.
Video

Video Stockton Community, Police, Work to Improve Relations

Relations are tense between minority communities and police departments around the United States following police shootings that have generated widely-publicized protests. VOA's Mike O’Sullivan reports from Stockton, California, where police and community groups are working toward solutions, with backing from Washington.
Video

Video Indiana Controversy Highlights Divergent Meanings of Religious Freedom

Indiana’s state government has triggered a nationwide controversy by approving a law that critics say is aimed at allowing discrimination against gays and lesbians. The controversy stems from divergent notions of religious freedom in America. VOA's Jerome Socolovsky reports.
Video

Video Report: State of Black America a 'Tale of Two Nations'

The National Urban League has described this year's "State of Black America" report as a "tale of two nations." The group's annual report, released earlier this month (March), found that under an equality index African Americans had only 72% parity compared to whites in areas such as education, economics, health, social justice and civic engagement. It’s a gap that educators and students at Brooklyn’s Medgar Evers College are looking to close. VOA's Daniela Schrier reports from the school.
Video

Video Film Tells Story of Musicians in Mali Threatened by Jihadists

At this year's annual South by Southwest film and music festival in Austin, Texas, some musicians from Mali were on hand to promote a film about how their lives were upturned by jihadists who destroyed ancient treasures in the city of Timbuktu and prohibited anyone from playing music under threat of death. As VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Austin, some are afraid to return to their hometowns even though the jihadists are no longer in control there.
Video

Video Ebola Vaccine Trials Underway in West Africa

Ebola has claimed the lives of more than 10,000 people in West Africa. Since last summer, researchers have rushed to get anti-Ebola vaccines into clinical trials. While it's too early to say that any of the potential vaccines work, some scientists say they are seeing strong results from some of the studies. VOA's Carol Pearson reports.
Video

Video Philippines Wants Tourists Spending Money at New Casinos

Tourism is a multi-billion dollar industry in the Philippines. Close to five million foreign visitors traveled there last year, perhaps lured by the country’s tropical beaches. But Jason Strother reports from Manila that the country hopes to entice more travelers to stay indoors and spend money inside new casinos.
Video

Video Civilian Casualties Push Men to Join Rebels in Ukraine

The continued fighting in eastern Ukraine and the shelling of civilian neighborhoods seem to be pushing more men to join the separatist fighters. Many of the new recruits are residents of Ukraine made bitter by new grievances, as well as old. VOA's Patrick Wells reports.
Video

Video Cambodian Land Grabs Threaten Traditional Communities

Indigenous communities in Cambodia's Ratanakiri province say the government’s economic land concession policy is taking away their land and traditional way of life, making many fear that their identity will soon be lost. Local authorities, though, have denied this is the case. VOA's Say Mony went to investigate and filed this report, narrated by Colin Lovett.

VOA Blogs

Circumventing Censorship

An Internet Primer for Healthy Web Habits

As surveillance and censoring technologies advance, so, too, do new tools for your computer or mobile device that help protect your privacy and break through Internet censorship.
More