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Future of Somali children at stake as conflict, drought rages, says charity

Saturday June 17, 2017

A mother and her two children sit under blanket in the outskirt of Mogadishu, Somalia, March 3, 2017. (Xinhua/Faisal Isse)

NAIROBI, June 16 (Xinhua) -- Somalia's two and a half decades old civil strife coupled with natural calamities could deny its children their future, the international charity, Save the Children, says in its 2017 global report on status of children launched in Nairobi on Friday.

The report titled "Stolen Childhoods, End of Children Report 2017" cites Somalia among five countries with the worst living conditions for children in the world thanks to endemic conflicts and natural disasters.

Hassan Noor, the Country Director for Somalia at Save the Children said that malnutrition, lack of access to education and quality health, harmful cultural practices alongside breakdown of law and order has pushed the lives of children in the horn of African state to the margins.

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"Flourishing childhood is a mirage in Somalia due to harsh living conditions worsened by conflicts and endemic droughts. These children have been denied the most basic rights like proper nutrition, health and education," Noor said.

The stolen childhood report collected data from 172 countries to shed light on the plight of young ones based on key parameters like nutrition, health, education and safety.

It reveals that Nordic countries like Norway, Finland, Netherlands and Sweden have the best living conditions for children while Niger, Central African Republic and Somalia have the most unfriendly environment for children to grow and thrive.

Noor regretted that child labor, early marriages and illiteracy have denied children in Somalia and other post conflict states a chance to realize their dreams.

"Our latest survey revealed that school attendance among Somalia children has declined while a growing number of them have become victims of violence or target for recruitment by extremist groups," said Noor.

The survival of Somalia children hangs in the balance due to civil turmoil, poverty, broken health infrastructure and absence of social safety nets.

Director of Policy, Planning and Strategic Information in Somaliland's ministry of health, Faisa Ibrahim said that unsafe deliveries, communicable diseases and malnutrition are to blame for high rate of infant mortality in Somalia.

"The under five mortality rate in Somalia currently stands at 137 out of 1000 live births. It is the highest in the region. Investments in child survival programs should therefore be stepped up," Ibrahim remarked.

She added that strategic interventions like immunization, nutrition, education and hospital based deliveries are key to prolong the lives of young ones in Somalia.

The end of childhood report 2017 revealed that nearly 26 percent of Somalia children are stunted while 50 percent of them are out of school due to a combination of factors like poverty, hunger and violence.

Deputy Country Director, Save the Children Somalia, Ebrima Saidy emphasized that investments in child welfare is key to place Somalia on a path of peace, stability and growth.

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