Malnutrition rises among Somali children2nd August 2011
Cases of malnutrition among Somali refugee children look set to keep on rising, a leading aid organization says.
According to the medical charity Medecins Sans Frontieres (MSF), doctors in refugee camps across the border in Kenya are bracing for a further wave of people fleeing the drought in their home country.
MSF said on Thursday it expected no let up in the number of children suffering from severe malnutrition until the beginning of the rainy season in November.
Healthcare workers say that on top of malnutrition, arriving refugees were also putting a strain on sanitary conditions in the world's biggest refugee camp at Dadaab.
They say around 1,300 people arrive at the camp every day at the moment.
Mohamed Gedi, director of MSF's hospital in Dadaab's Dagahaley settlement, said he fully expected to see more and more patients in the coming months.
The charity said it was seeing around 20 new cases of severe malnourishment a week at the end of last year.
By June, the number had risen to 50, prompting the hospital to provide four times as many beds as before to respond to the tide of cases.
The hospital is seeing more and more emaciated children who need to be fed through a nasal tube on their arrival at the clinic.
The once-starving children can only lie listlessly on beds in the permanent and temporary wards, as their bodies try to pull round from the debilitating effects of malnutrition.
Many of the refugees travel hundreds of miles on foot to escape a famine that has hit the Horn of Africa hard this year in the wake of a drought.
Two parts of northern Somalia have been declared famine zones by the United Nations.
Dadaab camp currently houses more than 400,000 refugees, although it was only designed to take around 90,000 people when it was built during the Somalian civil war in the 1990s.
But the world's biggest refugee camp is groaning under the strain as agencies scramble to make sure people have access to clean food and water.
The cases of malnutrition are not only seen among children from famine areas, but among children over the age of five within the camp itself, according to MSF.
The Kenyan government previously suspended construction of an extension of Dadaab citing concerns that the refugees would simply remain there.
But the famine prompted the international community to put pressure on Kenya, and the extension, Ifo 2, was reopened.
Some Somali refugees have been housed in mud brick houses close to latrines, water distribution points, health facilities and schools.
But many more are living in UN-issue tents with scant sanitation.
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Title: Malnutrition rises among Somali children
Author: Luisetta Mudie
Article Id: 19274
Date Added: 2nd Aug 2011