Somali drought doubles number of children at key nutrition centers: ICRC

Source: Xinhua| 2017-05-19 23:16:19|Editor: Mu Xuequan
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GENEVA, May 19 (Xinhua) -- The deadly consequences of Somalia's ongoing drought have led to a spike in the number of children admitted to the country's nutritional centers, the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) said on Friday.

According to the ICRC, the nutritional centers in Baidoa, one of the few places where malnourished children under age five can get life-saving treatment in south and central Somalia, has more than twice as many children this year compared to last year.

In a similar center in the country's southern port city, Kismayo, the situation is much the same -- the facility is overwhelmed by the high number of mothers streaming in with visibly wasted children, and in urgent need of medical help.

Nationwide, the ICRC and the Somali Red Crescent Society have seen an 80-percent increase in the number of malnourished children treated at the two centers and clinics compared to last year.

"Uncertainties about the rainfall performance during April to May has raised fears that the effects of the drought will persist and the risk of the situation deteriorating further remains very real," ICRC said in a statement issued on Friday here.

A sharp rise in malnutrition levels is a cruel signal that things could be taking a turn for the worse, ICRC said, adding that only six years ago, a devastating famine in the country led to the death of over a quarter million people, half of them children.

"What we saw in the two nutrition centers that we are supporting in Kismayo and in Baidoa, is nearly double the number of children that have been admitted to these two centers. Which is clearly the result of a severe food crisis that is currently affecting Somalia," said Dominik Stillhart, the head of ICRC operations.