The United Nations says more than 700 children have died in Somali feeding centres

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GENEVA/Mogadishu (Reuters) – Hundreds of children have died in feeding centers across Somalia, the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) said on Tuesday, a day after the world body warned parts of the country would face starvation. the coming months.

An official in one Somali region described starving people walking long distances with children on their shoulders to escape drought and violence inflicted by al-Shabab fighters. Some children died along the way.

The Horn of Africa is facing the failure of the fifth consecutive rainy season. The famine in Somalia in 2011 claimed the lives of more than a quarter of a million people, most of them children. Read more

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“It has been reported that around 730 children died in food and nutrition centers across the country between January and July of this year, but the numbers could be higher because many deaths were not reported,” said Wafaa Saeed, UNICEF Representative in Somalia, at a press briefing in Geneva. about her”.

These centers are for children suffering from severe acute malnutrition as well as diseases such as measles, cholera or malaria and provide a snapshot of the situation across the country.

The United Nations said Monday that parts of Somalia will face a famine between October and December as drought worsens and global food prices rise.

US National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan said the United States was “deeply concerned by this dire prospect and the scale of the need across the country and the region.”

Sullivan urged the international community to provide additional assistance to Somalia.

Ahmed Shire, the information minister of Glamudug state north of the capital Mogadishu, said 210 people have died from malnutrition in recent months.

“Al-Shabaab completely burned five towns and burned wells to ashes,” he told Reuters. “These people were struggling with a drought that killed half of their livestock. The young people ransacked the remaining animals.”

Shire said about 1,000 families, each with at least seven children, fled the area on foot and could not be saved due to the threat of attacks.

Al-Shabab, an Islamist group linked to al-Qaeda, has been attacking military and civilian targets for more than a decade.

Outbreaks of disease are on the rise among children, UNICEF said, with around 13,000 suspected measles cases reported in recent months, 78% of which are children under the age of five.

Faduma Abdelkader Warsami, who runs nine camps for the displaced on the outskirts of Mogadishu, said her team had buried 115 children and elderly people in the past three months.

“Thousands of families that remain are just skeletons. If you don’t help them right away you will follow suit,” she said, adding that most people were too poor to afford a decent burial.

“Children are buried like rubbish in alleys and along walls,” she said.

Financial aid to Somalia has recently increased and the $1.46 billion UN appeal is now 67% funded. But aid officials warned that more was needed.

“We will witness the death of children on an unimaginable scale if we do not act quickly,” said Audrey Crawford, Somalia director at the Danish Refugee Council.

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(covering by Emma Farge and Abdi Sheikh). Additional reporting by Kanishka Singh; Writing by Estelle Shirbon and Kanishka Singh; Editing by Rachel Moore, William MacLean and Ed Osmond

Our criteria: Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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