Refugees sit in an open area of the Dollo Ado refugee camp in Ethiopia last month. AP Photo/ Luc van Kemenade
Child Deaths

UN: Ten children dying each day at Somali refugee camp

Child mortality at a camp in Ethiopia has reached an “alarming” level, according to the UN Refugee Agency.

THE UNITED NATIONS Refugee Agency says that the rate of child mortality at Somali refugee camps in Ethiopia has reached an “alarming” level.

The organisation said today that an average of ten children aged under five have died each day since the Kobe camp began receiving refugees in June.

Acute malnutrition has been blamed for the majority of the deaths, but a measles outbreak is thought to have compounded the problem.

Earlier this month, the UN called for an urgent response to the measles outbreak at the Dollo Ado and Kobe camps in south-eastern Ethiopia. It said the illness could seriously affect people whose health was already fragile and could reverse any progress being made in assisting refugees.

Hundreds of thousands of Somalis escaping famine and violence have fled to the area.

The Ethiopian Ministry of Health, the World Health Organisation and UNICEF joined to launch a mass vaccination programme for children and teenagers at the camps. That programme was completed at the Kobe camp yesterday, but continues at other camps in the area.

Yesterday, the UN’s World Food Programme said it would investigate claims made by an Associated Press investigation that thousands of bags of food aid intended for malnourished Somalis has been stolen and sold at markets. The WFP said that the scale of the theft would not warrant the suspension of its food aid assistance, given that the removal of that aid would lead to “many unnecessary deaths”.

Read: WFP investigating serious food aid theft in Somalia >

Read: All sides to blame in Somali disaster, says human rights group >

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