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Children Most at Risk in Africa Drought

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  • Africa Drought
    (Reuters/Thomas Mukoya)
    A Somali refugee child cries while carrying a sibling. Drought has forced thousands to flee their country and seek refuge.
By Nicola Menzie, Christian Post Reporter
July 7, 2011|2:13 pm

The United Nations has issued a dire warning over the lack of rain along the Horn of Africa that has made the food crisis in the region even more cirtical for residents of several nations fighting for survival.

“We haven’t seen such a drought in sixty years... More than ten million people need assistance and there is a serious food crisis,” said U.N. human affairs spokesperson Elizabeth Byrs.

Nations especially hit hard by the drought are Somalia and Kenya, where U.N. officials are noticing pre-famine conditions. Uganda, Ethiopia, and Djibouti are also affected by the drought.

Byrs warned that the situation will likely grow worse and more people will suffer. Of particular concern are refugees from Somalia who have been streaming into neighboring Kenya for aid. Brys pointed out that there was a high case of child malnutrition among the Somali refugees, with one in every three children in that nation suffering from malnutrition. The U.N. Estimates that about 15,000 Somalis leave their home every month to seek help in Kenya and Ethiopia.

The U.N.'s humanitarian front has been reporting an increase in children below the age of five dying of hunger and exhaustion during the long and exhaustive walk into neighboring countries. Many children, exhausted even more by the journey, arrive in such a weak condition that they succumb to death within 24 hours, the agency reports.

Conflict in Somalia has compounded the food crisis. The nation's militant-based group, al-Shabaab, has promised the U.N. that its members won't attack humanitarian aid workers who are trying to reach millions of starving Somalis. Last year the militants targeted some aid groups in southern Somalia, kicking them out of the area.

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Canadian aid groups, working under the umbrella organization The Human Coalition, have been echoing the U.N.'s call for more funding to help the afflicted peoples of East Africa.

“The situation in East Africa is dire. We must act now to prevent thousands of lives from being lost to malnutrition and dehydration. Their survival depends on all of us-aid agencies, governments and the public-working together,” said Patricia Erb, President, a member of the Human Coalition and CEO of Save the Children Canada.

 

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