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Kenya: Desperate refugees abandon children

Desperation is driving some parents to abandon their children at the Dadaab refugee camp in Kenya after fleeing drought in Somalia.

Save the Children has placed record numbers of unaccompanied children with foster families in recent months, including a small number of babies abandoned by their families after arriving at the camps.

Two-month-old Nasib was found by a roadside by a woman who took him to a police station, and we are now working with police to trace Nasib’s parents.

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Another baby, Naifin, was left at the home of a refugee by his mother who had just arrived from Somalia.

She fled in the night, leaving Naifin behind. Our child protection team is now helping make sure Naifin is well cared for.

“We can only imagine the levels of desperation driving parents to abandon tiny babies in this way,” said Prasant Naik, our Kenya country director.

“After walking from Somalia without food and water, it is clear that some parents feel that they cannot care for their children any more, despite having reached help.”

There has also been a sharp increase in the number of children coming from Somalia without their families.
In July, Save the Children helped 80 unaccompanied children who arrived at the camp, up from a monthly average of 22 in 2010.

At risk

Children separated from their parents face the risk of sexual abuse, forced labour and being caught up in violence. They are also more vulnerable to malnutrition and disease.

About 1,400 Somalis arrive every day at Dadaab, the world’s biggest refugee camp, pushing the number of recorded refugees beyond 400,000.

The UN has warned that the crisis is likely to get worse in the coming weeks.

The number of acutely malnourished children in Somalia, currently standing at 390,000, could double within the next year.

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