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Somalia braced for emergency


Food stocks are being pre-positioned in Somalia in anticipation of a major emergency.

Even where there is aid, children who could be saved are now dying. Somalia has been preyed on by warlords since the collapse of central government in 1991.

Although the border region is now stable, the country has a deserved reputation as a difficult and dangerous place for aid workers, and humanitarian assistance is often minimal.

In the village of Radduhura, where Unicef are assessing needs, the staff thought the chances of children like five-year old Noro surviving were slim.

No specialised care

Noro is very thin. To live, he needs specialised regular feeding under supervision from trained personnel - but there aren't any, because very few agencies work in Somalia.

Noro's mother received some high-protein mix but that will probably be used to feed all the family. Jonathan Veitch of Unicef predicts that many children will die.

In Somalia, he says, they are used to seeing rates of child malnutrition that would be unacceptable elsewhere.

For the sixth year in succession harvests are expected to fail, and the blow will fall on a population enduring a bare level of subsistence.


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