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Mothers forced to abandon children on 'roads of death'

An extra $360m (€250m) is urgently needed to tackle the food crisis in Somalia and across east Africa, the World Food Programme said yesterday, as aid agencies dubbed the routes to Kenya's refugee camps "roads of death" thanks to the numbers dying on the way.

Josette Sheeran, executive director of the UN World Food Programme, said at an emergency UN summit in Rome that a fatal combination of natural disaster and regional conflict had created an emergency affecting more than 12 million people, causing food distribution services to be "completely overwhelmed".


"We want to make sure the supplies are there along the road because some of them are becoming roads of death where mothers are having to abandon their children who are too weak to make it or who have died along the way," she said.

The World Bank announced ahead of the meeting that it was providing more than $500m (€347m) to assist drought victims, in addition to $12m (€8.3m) in immediate aid to help those worst hit. But Oxfam said that, overall, another $1bn (€695m) was needed to handle the situation. There will be a donor pledging conference tomorrow in Nairobi that hopes to raise up to $1.6bn (€1.1bn) to tackle the food crisis.

At a stabilisation centre for malnourished children in Ifo I, one of three refugee camps in Dadaab, northern Kenya, the strain on services is all too visible. Alongside the screening tents is a cramped feeding room made from breeze blocks. In here, some 60 tiny children and their mothers struggle for space on the floor surrounded by flies. Moor Habibo Mohammed (26) crouches over her 18-month-old son Abdi Kadir Mohammed, helping him to eat from a foil pouch of fortified food. He coughs as he struggles to swallow and she rushes to grab a mug of water. The mug is bigger than his emaciated torso. ( © Daily Telegraph London)

Irish Independent