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Somalia's Tears..."Drought and Terrorism Threaten to Kill 500,000 Children"

More than 500,000 children are in danger of dying from malnutrition this year alone due to the climate crisis and long-standing conflict in Somalia, Africa, CBS reported on the 16th (local time).

In a recent release, the United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF) noted that more than 500,000 children could die of malnutrition by the middle of this year unless immediate action is taken in Somalia, which is plagued by drought and Al-Shabaab's offensive linked to the terrorist group al-Qaeda.

Somalia and other "Horn of Africa" regions have recently experienced the worst drought in 40 years, deepening food shortages. As a result, more and more people are fleeing their homes in the south.

In addition, the suffering of the Somali people has worsened after 20 years of terrorist attacks, including by Al-Shabaab, an armed group that controls much of southern and central Somalia.

In September last year, the UN agencies and other humanitarian organizations reported that 59 percent of the more than 98,000 children aged 6 to 59 months were suffering from acute malnutrition, according to an inspection of displaced persons camps in the southwestern Baidoa district. Of those, 24 percent were found to be seriously ill.

Thousands of Somalis are faced with two options: to remain in their homes, in the devastated south, or to risk becoming embroiled in fighting between Al-Shabaab and government forces, CBS reported.

In particular, mothers with young children often travel on foot to displaced camps in distant places to save their children.

Bilisey Ali, who visited the Baidoa displaced persons camp with her young daughters in search of food, told CBS that even the camp did not have enough food.

Fragile, they walked more than 112 kilometers to reach the camp, but even here the children have been holding on to a small amount of porridge for days.

However, Ali said the situation is much better than in her hometown in the south, where there is nothing to eat, adding, "In my hometown, Al-Shabaab controls the food supply and they burn it unless they get their approval."

Habiba Mohammed, who is staying in another refugee camp, also said she had fled her Al-Shabaab-occupied homeland because of lack of rain and a long absence of crops.

By the time she walked more than six days to the camp for her starving 3-year-old son, Mohammed was eight months pregnant. She said that even when she gave birth at the camp, she was not properly fed and watered.

Mohammed complained about the situation in her country, saying it was "going through the worst drought we've ever experienced."

CBS said help was urgently needed, but threats from Al-Shabaab and others made it difficult for aid groups and the media to take an active role in Somalia. [YonhapNews]

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