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2008.02.20

* A call for aid to help Somalia’s undernourished children
* 02 min 39 secs
* 06 Feb 2008

Somalia is an intolerable place for its 4 million children. Without an effective central government since 1991, two generations have had their childhood shattered by war, famine and disease. Today intensified fighting, drought, and a nutritional crisis threaten to make 2008 one of the worst-ever years for Somalia’s forgotten children. It is an appalling prospect.

This week new figures from the United Nations Children’s Fund show malnutrition on the rise.

At a hospital in northern Somalia, Dr Hodan Ahmed is dealing with the human face behind the new numbers 

SOUNDBITE (English) Dr Hodan Ahmed “The most malnourished children come from distant areas like Mogadishu. These women and their babies need help. They desperately need help”

Estimates put the number of those killed by fighting and famine at one million. The number of internally displaced, girls such as 13-year-old Khadi Abdire, has doubled in the last six months, leaving more and more children reliant on international support for survival

SOUNDBITE (Somali): Khadi Abdire, 13-years-old “Life is very, very difficult in this camp. We don’t have proper school or health centres … and there is a lot of child labour. School has many benefits. I came here as an illiterate girl but now I am in school and I hope that in the future my education will help me getting a good job and a better life.”

Despite the hardship and threat to those who seek to help Somalia’s children – three aid workers were killed in January – UNICEF continues to reach the most vulnerable.

If the dire predictions for Somalia’s children this year are going to be avoided, support is urgently needed. Presently UNICEF will be unable to maintain any of its 2007 activities – its appeals for $48million for 2008 have yet to raise a single dollar.

SOUNDBITE (English): Assa Ahmed, UNICEF Child Protection worker: “We understand that the world is preoccupied with a lot of the problems of Africa, including now Kenya, but we hope that the international community do not forget about the children of Somalia.”

If funded, UNICEF would continue tackling malnutrition



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