Somalia drought is worst humanitarian crisis: UN

Last Updated: Sunday, July 10, 2011 - 23:52

Dadaab: The head of the UN refugee
agency on Sunday said that drought-ridden Somalia is the "worst
humanitarian disaster" in the world after meeting with
refugees who endured unspeakable hardship to reach the world`s
largest refugee camp.

The Kenyan camp, Dadaab, is overflowing with tens of
thousands of newly arrived refugees forced into the camp by
the parched landscape in the region where Somalia, Ethiopia
and Kenya meet.

The World Food Programme estimates that 10 million
people already need humanitarian aid. The UN Children`s Fund
estimates that more than 2 million children are malnourished
and in need of lifesaving action.

Antonio Guterres, the head of UNHCR who visited Dadaab
today, appealed to the world to supply the "massive support"
needed by thousands of refugees showing up at this camp every
week.

More than 380,000 refugees now live there.

In Dadaab, Guterres spoke with a Somalia mother who
lost three of her children during a 35-day walk to reach the
camp. Guterres said Dadaab holds "the poorest of the poor and
the most vulnerable of the vulnerable."

"I became a bit insane after I lost them," said the
mother, Muslima Aden. "I lost them in different times on my
way."

Guterres is on a tour of the region to highlight the
dire need. On Thursday he was in the Ethiopian camp of Dollo
Ado, a camp that is also overflowing.

"The mortality rates we are witnessing are three times
the level of emergency ceilings," he said. "The level of
malnutrition of the children coming in is 50 per cent. That is
enough to explain why a very high level of mortality is
inevitable," he said.

Dr Dejene Kebede, a health officer for UNHCR, said
there were 58 deaths in camps in one week alone in June.

Most of the deaths take place at the registration
office and transition facilities of the refugee camps in the
southeastern Dollo region of Ethiopia, the health officer
said.

Up to 2,000 Somali refugees are crossing the border
into Ethiopia every day, UNHCR said. Thousands of families
arrive in poor conditions often after walking for days in
search of food.

PTI



First Published: Sunday, July 10, 2011 - 23:52

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