GENEVA ó Thousands of children in war-torn Somalia risk dying from the insecurity, famine and sickness as the country’s humanitarian crisis worsens, the United Nations children’s agency warned this week.
|Somalian child suffering from the famine|
“Unless we are able to address the very basic needs of water and food you will see a time bomb soon exploding in Somalia,” said Christian Balslev-Olesen, UNICEF’s representative for the country. “If we are not able to do so, these kids will die,” he told journalists. UNICEF is asking for 10 million dollars from the international community to provide food and medical assistance over the next few weeks to around 90,000 children who depend entirely on food aid for their survival. “We already have incidences of children dying because of outbreaks of cholera, we have high levels of malnutrition and that means people, children specifically, are dying today for lack of food,” Balslev-Olesen said. UNICEF hopes to avoid another “nightmare” scenario such as in the early 1990s, when 300,000 people died in just three months at the beginning of Somalia’s civil war, he added. Aid agency Medecins Sans Frontieres (MSF – Doctors Without Borders) last week said the international community should shoulder some of the blame for the crisis. “There has been a collective failure by the international community,” who must share some of the responsibility for the current situation, said MSF Operations Director Bruno Jochum. Around a quarter of a million people have fled the capital Mogadishu alone due to heavy fighting between an insurgency and Ethiopian-backed government forces, he said. MSF has pulled out all its international staff from the country after three of its personnel were killed by a roadside bomb last month.