News / Africa

UN: 500,000 Malnourished Children at Risk in Horn of Africa

A Somali man who fled violence and drought in Somalia with his family sits on the ground outside a food distribution point in the Dadaab refugee camp in northeastern Kenya on July 5, 2011
A Somali man who fled violence and drought in Somalia with his family sits on the ground outside a food distribution point in the Dadaab refugee camp in northeastern Kenya on July 5, 2011

The U.N. Children's Fund reports about 500,000 children in the Horn of Africa are at imminent risk of death due to malnutrition.  The agency says another 1.7 million additional children also are at risk.  Two senior officials from the U.N. refugee agency, who have just returned from Ethiopia and Kenya, confirm the gravity of the situation facing millions of drought victims, particularly the children.

The U.N. officials visited refugee camps in Dollo Abo in southeast Ethiopia and Dadaab in Kenya, the world’s largest, most congested refugee camp in the world.  UNHCR Public Health Chief of Section Paul Spiegel says he was taken aback by the very dire situation in Dollo.

He says he was shocked at the extremely high mortality rate recorded in June.

“It was 7.4 deaths per 10,000 people per day.  And, to put that into perspective, baseline for sub-Saharan Africa is 0.5 and an emergency is generally declared at greater than equal to one death.  So, it is 15 times the baseline and the preponderance of the deaths are amongst under five children.  Secondly the malnutrition rates, which is really one of the major causes of death are extremely high,” Spiegel said.  

Data from the group, Doctors Without Borders, show global acute malnutrition rates in June in the camps were more than 50 percent and rates for severe malnutrition, which can lead to death, were 26.8 percent.  

Spiegel says these findings are considered extremely rare and high.  He notes acute severe malnutrition rates in July appear to be going down, which is a good sign.  

The U.N. estimates more than 10 million people in the Horn of Africa are affected by drought.  The situation is particularly serious in Somalia, which keeps churning out thousands of new refugees fleeing from drought and violence.

UNHCR Deputy Director for East and Horn of Africa Raouf Mazou says he was astonished at, what he calls, the unprecedented movement of populations going into Kenya and Ethiopia.  

“At some point, we probably had between the two countries up to 4,000 people crossing every day.  It has somehow reduced a bit.  Again, somehow reduced a bit, but we should not think that this is a long-term trend or a long-term tendency.  The situation in Somalia continues to be extremely difficult.  As was said before, this terrible mix of drought and violence that continues in Somalia, which results in these type of movements,” Mazou said.

In Dollo, the refugee officials found camps filling up quickly.  Dollo has two long-term camps and a third camp, which opened recently to accommodate new arrivals, is already crowded.  The officials say a new camp, which can host 60,000 refugees, is due to open in the next two to three days.

They say camp conditions are very difficult and unhealthy.  They say people are not getting enough water to drink and sanitary conditions are terrible because of a lack of latrines.  

They warn conditions both in Dollo and in the huge, overcrowded Dadaab refugee complex in Kenya are ripe for epidemics of measles, water-borne and other diseases.  They say no cases of cholera have been found, but this could quickly change as the number of cases of acute watery diarrhea is rising.

You May Like

Obama: Alaskans Feel Signs of Climate Change

They're seeing bigger storm surges as sea ice melts, more wildfires, erosion of glaciers, shorelines More

Katrina Brought Enduring Changes to New Orleans

The city’s recovery is the result of the people and culture the city is famous for, as well as newcomers and start-up industries More

Magical Photo Slides Show Native Americans in Late 1800s

Walter McClintock spent 20 years photographing the Blackfoot Indians and their vanishing culture at the dawn of the modern age 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.
Colombians Flee Venezuela as Border Crisis Escalatesi
X
August 27, 2015 2:08 AM
Hundreds of Colombians have fled Venezuela since last week, amid an escalating border crisis between the two countries. Last week, Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro ordered the closure of a key border crossing after smugglers injured three Venezuelan soldiers and a civilian. The president also ordered the deportation of Colombians who are in Venezuela illegally. Zlatica Hoke reports.
Video

Video Colombians Flee Venezuela as Border Crisis Escalates

Hundreds of Colombians have fled Venezuela since last week, amid an escalating border crisis between the two countries. Last week, Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro ordered the closure of a key border crossing after smugglers injured three Venezuelan soldiers and a civilian. The president also ordered the deportation of Colombians who are in Venezuela illegally. Zlatica Hoke reports.
Video

Video Is China's Economic Data Accurate?

Some investors say China's wild stock market gyrations have been made worse by worries about the reliability of that nation's economic data. And some critics say the reports can mislead investors by painting an unrealistically-strong picture of the economy. A key China scholar says Beijing is not fudging ((manipulating)) the numbers, but that the economy is evolving quickly from smoke-stack industries to services, and the ways of tracking new economic activity are falling behind the change. V
Video

Video Next to Iran, Climate at Forefront of Obama Agenda

President Barack Obama this week announced new initiatives aimed at making it easier for Americans to access renewable energy sources such as solar and wind. Obama is not slowing down when it comes to pushing through climate change measures, an issue he says is the greatest threat to the country’s national security. VOA correspondent Aru Pande has more from the White House.
Video

Video Shipping Containers Provide Experimental Housing

Housing prices around the San Francisco Bay area are out of reach for many people, so some young entrepreneurs, artists and tech industry workers are creating their own houses using converted shipping containers. But as VOA's Mike O’Sullivan reports from Oakland, the effort requires ingenuity and dealing with restrictive local laws.
Video

Video Arctic Draws International Competition for Oil

A new geopolitical “Great Game” is underway in earth’s northernmost region, the Arctic, where Russia has claimed a large area for resource development and President Barack Obama recently approved Shell Oil Company’s test-drilling project in an area under U.S. control. Greg Flakus reports.
Video

Video Philippine Maritime Police: Chinese Fishermen a Threat to Country’s Security

China and the Philippines both claim maritime rights in the South China Sea.  That includes the right to fish in those waters. Jason Strother reports on how the Philippines is catching Chinese nationals it says are illegal poachers. He has the story from Palawan province.
Video

Video Technique May Eliminate Drill-and-Fill Dental Care

Many people dread visiting dentists because they're afraid of drills. Now, however, a technology developed by a British firm promises to eliminate the need for mechanical cleaning of dental cavities by speeding a natural process of tooth repair. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video China's Spratly Island Building Said to Light Up the Night 'Like A City'

Southeast Asian countries claim China has illegally seized territory in the Spratly islands. It is especially a concern for a Philippine mayor who says Beijing is occupying parts of his municipality. Jason Strother reports from the capital of Palawan province, Puerto Princesa.
Video

Video Ages-old Ice Reveals Secrets of Climate Change

Ice caps don't just exist at the world's poles. There are also tropical ice caps, and the largest sits atop the Peruvian Andes - but it is melting, quickly, and may be gone within the next 20 years. George Putic reports scientists are now rushing to take samples to get at the valuable information about climate change locked in the ice.
Video

Video French Experiment in Integrating Roma Under Threat

Plans to destroy France’s oldest slum have sparked an outcry on the part of its Roma residents. As Lisa Bryant reports from the Paris suburb of La Courneuve, rights groups argue the community is a fledgling experiment on integrating Roma who are often outcasts in many parts of Europe.
Video

Video Kenyans Turn to Agriculture for Business

Each year Kenyan universities continue to churn out graduates for the job market despite the already existing high rate of unemployment among youth in the country. Some of these young men and women have realized that agriculture can be as rewarding as any other business or job, and they are resorting to agribusiness in large numbers as a way of tackling unemployment. Rael Ombuor reports for VOA.
Video

Video First Women Graduate Elite Army Ranger School

Two women are making history for the U.S. Army by proving they are among the toughest of the tough. VOA's Carla Babb reports from Fort Benning, Georgia as 94 men and those two women rise as graduates of the difficult Ranger school.

VOA Blogs