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UN: Urgent action needed to protect Somali children

By Andrew Wasike
Tuesday, August 2, 2016


NAIROBI, Kenya - A new United Nations report released Monday shows that the situation of children in Somalia is improving but much more needs to be done.

The United Nations Children's Emergency Fund (UNICEF) report titled, “The Situation Analysis of Children in Somalia 2016,” says that more children are surviving and have access to healthcare, water, and food in the Somalia environment than in previous years.

But aside from the decline in infant and maternal mortality, the report notes that persistent problems are far from over, as much has yet to be accomplished.

“Over 300,000 children under the age of five are acutely malnourished and the under-five mortality rate is among the highest in the world,” said UNICEF Somalia Representative Steven Lauwerier.

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He added that one out of every seven Somali children dies before their fifth birthday and 1 out of every 12 women die while giving birth, and fewer than half of Somali children are estimated to have been vaccinated against measles.

Female Genital Mutilation (FGM) is also said to stand at 98 percent, the highest rate in the world.

Speaking at the report’s launch, Zahra Samatar, Somalia’s minister of women and human rights development, said the report shows that young girls are the most threatened.

“The future of most girls in Somalia can be described as very bleak. Our laws may give them rights and guarantee equality to a certain point, but in practice we all know that their rights are often violated, whether incidental or systematic,” she said.

Somali, still in the process of emerging from a period of war which has lasted since the 1980s, has seen its women’s and children’s rights being violated.

The report notes that children in Somalia make up 18 percent of the Horn of Africa country’s total population, thus calling for immediate action to ensure that the children are guaranteed a future.

Speaking at the report’s launch, Fatima Ali, a youth activist said, “We can help build our country, but first we need education, training, and a chance to do so.”

Lauwerier told reporters that Somalia is one of the world’s least-protective environments for children, with over 2,000 grave violations recorded in 2015 alone.

Lauwerier was referring in part to the fact that nearly every girl in Somalia undergoes FGM and only four in 10 girls go to school.

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