East Africa drought ‘the most severe humanitarian emergency in the world”

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Some watch their children die on the dusty footpath. Others give birth to underweight babies on the roadside, with little hope that they will live to reach safety.

Young boys seeking jobs may end up in virtual slavery, while girls are sold in marriage in exchange for livestock to put food on the table a few more weeks.

Such are the desperate lives of children in the drought-battered Horn of Africa — once a horn of plenty, and now a hardscrabble desert as parched as its inhabitants. In Somalia, Kenya, Ethiopia, Djibouti and Uganda, the worst drought in 60 years has affected 10 million people, including many children.

On Thursday, UNICEF called the drought and refugee crisis “the most severe humanitarian emergency in the world.”

Aid agencies sounded the alarm on the deteriorating condition of children in the region, and especially Somalia, where a vicious civil war is raging between the Al Qaeda-linked Islamist group Al Shabaab and a UN-backed, but relatively powerless government based in Mogadishu.

“We estimate that about 500,000 children are at risk of being separated from their parents in Somalia,” said Carleen McGuinty, World Vision’s child protection advisor. “We are worried about malnutrition, but also the exploitation of children.”

Read more of this article:  TheStar.com

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