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We can’t turn our backs on Mogadishu’s children

 

No parent should have to watch their child die.

One of the first mothers I met in Sigale camp, Mogadishu, told me how she had had to do just that.

Fleeing from her home because of the drought, unable to feed her children, she trekked seven days with her four children to Mogadishu to find refuge. On the way her youngest child, still breastfeeding, died.

There was nothing she could do.

She looked exhausted, and hadn’t eaten herself for four days. But she was determined to save the lives of her three remaining children.

Perilous journey

Hadija, another mother I met had lost two of her children, aged five and ten, on the long journey to Mogadishu. The families I met who had just arrived had a glazed look in their eyes.

They’d survived unspeakable ordeals. And although they’d reached Mogadishu, they still faced a fight for survival.

No help

Sigale camp, the old frontline of the conflict is now the home to 17,000 people.

Families huddle in makeshift tents amongst the ruins of bullet ridden houses, having trekked days or weeks to get to this relative sanctuary.

But on arrival there was almost no help for them, until a few days ago when our frontline staff distributed food vouchers and set up a health clinic with doctors and nurses to treat the most severely malnourished children and pregnant mums.

Amazing

Our amazing staff are literally saving children’s lives, often at great risk to themselves. Working in Mogadishu is tough and our staff are under constant threat, but we can make a difference even in these most difficult circumstances.

More widely in Somalia, we’re scaling up our programme to reach more than 200,000 children, including in areas in South Central Somalia. We’re providing food and health services in some of the toughest parts of Somalia.

Our supporters have given generously so far to help children here, but this problem is so huge that we’re asking people to keep on giving, to help fill trucks with life-saving food and supplies so we can keep on saving children’s lives here.

Justin Forsyth in Sigale camp, Mogadishu

Not enough

But we need more funds. Tragically, even though the need is overwhelming, the international community is not yet adequately funding organisations like Save the Children who are able and willing to make a difference of the ground.

With the exception of the UK government most donors are not doing enough. Despite all the hand-wringing we will hear from leaders in New York this week, there are still not enough pledges.

We need action not words.

More misery

In the coming weeks the struggle for survival could get worse. The rains could bring relief to farmers, but for the families in the makeshift camps in Mogadishu they could bring more misery.

Already many of the children have diarrhoea, and there are already some reports by the UN of cholera. With thousands of Mogadishu’s IDP children severely malnourished, and given the poor sanitation, children’s lives will be even more at risk from water-borne diseases.

Despite all of these challenges in Mogadishu and more widely in Somalia I firmly believe it’s possible to make a massive difference and to save children’s lives.

We need the international community to step up to the mark and fund those of us on the ground and to do this urgently.

Time is running out.

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