News / Africa

US Official Decries Slow Progress Reducing Somalia's Child Mortality Rates

Refugees rest outside in an open area as there is lack of tents at the Dollo Ado refugee camp, Ethiopia, Thursday, July 7, 2011 (file photo)
Refugees rest outside in an open area as there is lack of tents at the Dollo Ado refugee camp, Ethiopia, Thursday, July 7, 2011 (file photo)

The top U.S. official for refugee issues says that despite intensive efforts, relief agencies have made little progress in reducing child mortality rates at refugee camps along Somalia's border with Ethiopia. Deputy Assistant Secretary of State Reuben Brigety made the comment as he returned from Dollo Ado, a sprawling camp complex in Ethiopia that houses 120,000 refugees from famine-stricken southern Somalia.

Brigety, the U.S. government’s point man for refugee and migration affairs, has just returned from his third overnight visit to Dollo Ado this year.

He tells VOA that humanitarian agencies have made impressive progress in establishing health facilities and registering the backlog of refugees arriving daily from Somalia’s famine zone. But he said children are still dying at an alarming rate of malnutrition and other complications, such as measles.

"The level of mortality is still as high as it was two months ago. There was a measles outbreak recently, which fortunately actors responded to with a great deal of alacrity. But we’re seeing rates of malnutrition among the young children coming in that are as high as they were six weeks ago, so we have to work harder to figure out how we can bring those things down," he said.

Unacceptable mortality rate

Brigety said at the worst of the four Dollo Ado camps, the mortality rate among children under five is more than 15 per 10,000 per day.

The overall famine death toll among Somalis is believed to be well over 30,000 and rising daily. But the heart of the famine zone in southern Somalia is closed to humanitarian workers. It is controlled by the Islamic radical group al-Shabab, making it is impossible to know how many more are dying.

Brigety said those staying in Somalia likely are in worse condition than those who have made it to the camps.

"Those that remain behind, large numbers of them presumably would like to leave but simply don’t have the physical strength or can’t muster the resources to be able to move," he said. "We know there is very little to no food in the al-Shabab-held areas of south-central Somalia, which is why these areas have been declared in famine, and why we anticipate all of south-central Somalia to be in famine by October."

Breaking al-Shabab's grip

Brigety said newly-arrived refugees he has spoken to usually have little or no knowledge of al-Shabab or Somalia’s political failures that led to the famine. They are just in desperate need of help.

"One young mother, who couldn’t have been more than 20, nursing her little child, said she doesn’t know what the future holds for her, she’s just here and God will determine what happens to her. They have no affinity for al-Shabab whatsoever. These are people that are not political, they don’t have a particular ideology or agenda. They just want to survive," said Brigety.

The U.S. official said sleeping in a tent in the dust-blown Dollo Ado camp gives him a sense of the challenges facing the humanitarian workers trying to save countless children suffering severe malnutrition, measles and more.

"Just from my stay overnight, when I came back to have a shower, I was wiping dust out of my ears for a while and that’s just when I was there overnight. For the people who have to live in that environment, living through constant dust storms and constant heat, they are alive, but beyond that it’s an incredibly challenging existence," he said.

Brigety said his main worry is that famine will kill tens of thousands more people in short order unless the international community is able to intervene in Shabab-controlled areas inside Somalia in what he called “unfettered and robust fashion."



You May Like

Republican Majority in Congress Off to Rough Start

Standoff over Homeland Security funding exposes philosophical, tactical problems within party More

Pakistan Blocks Baloch Activist from US Trip

Human Rights Commission of Pakistan slams Islamabad officials for stopping people from leaving country to attend human rights conference More

Video Muslims Long Thrived in North Carolina Before Students Killed

Idyll shattered February 10, when three Muslim university students living in Chapel Hill were gunned down by a neighbor More

ILO: Women Still Losing Out in Global Work Place

International Labor Organization says women are marginally better off now than they were 20 years ago 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.
Muslims Long Thrived in N Carolina Before Slaying of 3 Studentsi
X
Jerome Socolovsky
March 05, 2015 9:04 PM
The killings of three Muslim students in North Carolina early last month came as Muslims across the United States have felt under siege, partly as a result of terrorist attacks being committed internationally in the name of their faith. But Muslims have long thrived in university cities in this part of the American South. VOA's Jerome Socolovsky reports.
Video

Video Muslims Long Thrived in N Carolina Before Slaying of 3 Students

The killings of three Muslim students in North Carolina early last month came as Muslims across the United States have felt under siege, partly as a result of terrorist attacks being committed internationally in the name of their faith. But Muslims have long thrived in university cities in this part of the American South. VOA's Jerome Socolovsky reports.
Video

Video Fuel Shortages in Nigeria Threaten Election Campaigns

Nigeria is suffering a gas shortage as the falling oil price has affected the country’s ability to import and distribute refined fuels. Coming just weeks before scheduled March 28 elections, the shortage could have a big impact on the campaign, as Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA.
Video

Video Report: Human Rights in Annexed Crimea Deteriorating

A new report by Freedom House and the Atlantic Council of the United States says the human rights situation in Crimea has deteriorated since the peninsula was annexed by Russia in March of last year. The report says the new authorities in Crimea are discriminating against minorities, suppressing freedom of expression, and forcing residents to assume Russian citizenship or leave. Zlatica Hoke has more.
Video

Video 50 Years Later African-Americans See New Voting Rights Battles Ahead

Thousands of people will gather to mark the 50th anniversary of a historic civil rights march on March 7th in Selma, Alabama. In 1965, dozens of people were seriously injured during the event known as “Bloody Sunday,” after police attacked African-American demonstrators demanding voting rights. VOA’s Chris Simkins introduces us to some civil rights pioneers who are still fighting for voting rights in Alabama more than 50 years later.
Video

Video Craft Brewers Taking Hold in US Beer Market

Since the 1950’s, the U.S. beer industry has been dominated by a handful of huge breweries. But in recent years, the rapid rise of small craft breweries has changed the American market and, arguably, the way people drink beer. VOA’s Jeff Custer reports.
Video

Video Video Claims to Show Shia Forces in Iraq Executing Sunni Boy

A graphic mobile phone video is spreading on the Internet, claiming to show Iraqi forces or Shia militia executing a handcuffed Sunni boy. Experts have yet to verify the video, but already Islamic State followers are publicizing it across social media, playing on deep-rooted sectarian fears. VOA’s Jeff Seldin reports.
Video

Video Ukrainian Authorities Struggle to Secure a Divided Mariupol

Since last month's cease-fire went into effect, shelling around the port city of Mariupol has decreased, but it is thought pro-Russian separatists remain poised to attack. For the city’s authorities, a major challenge is gaining the trust of residents, while at the same time rooting out informants who are passing sensitive information to the rebels. Patrick Wells reports for VOA.
Video

Video Volunteer Gauge-Watchers Help Fine-Tune Weather Science

An observation system called CoCoRaHS is working to improve weather science, thanks to thousands of volunteers across the country who measure precipitation in their own backyards, then share their data through the Internet. VOA's Shelley Schlender reports.
Video

Video NASA Spacecraft Approaches a Dwarf Planet

NASA’s Dawn spacecraft will make history on Friday, March 6, when it becomes the first man-made object to orbit a dwarf planet named Ceres. It is located in the asteroid belt between Mars and Jupiter, almost 500 million kilometers from Earth. Among other objectives, Dawn will try to examine two mysterious bright white spots detected on the planet’s surface. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Young Muslims Radicalized Online

Young Muslims are being radicalized ‘in their bedrooms’ through direct contact with Islamic State or ISIL fighters via the Internet, according to terror experts. There are growing concerns that authorities and Internet providers are not doing enough to counter online extremism - which analysts say is spread by a prolific network of online supporters around the world. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video Positive Messaging Transforms Ethiopia's Image

Ethiopia was once known for famine and droughts. Now, headlines more often point to its fast-growing economy and its emergence as a regional peacemaker. How has Addis Ababa changed the narrative? VOA's Marthe van der Wolf reports.
Video

Video Answers Elude Families of MH370 Passengers

For the families on board Malaysia Airlines flight MH370, an airline official’s statement nearly one year ago that the plane had lost contact with air traffic control at 2:40 AM is the only thing that remains confirmed. William Ide reports.

All About America

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