Children starving in Kenyan refugee camps before Russia ends grain trade

Dadaab – Abdikadir Omar, who was trapped in a Somali militant-controlled town for years until May, escaped with his wife and seven children on a 12-day journey to neighboring Kenya in search of food and safety.

Amazingly, “we found peace, but no food,” the 30-year-old man told the Associated Press. He stood near the withered corn that the family was trying to plant around a makeshift shelter made of sticks and plastic sheeting outside one of the world’s largest refugee camps.

As global food insecurity suffers a new shock, Ruling of agreement by Russia Hundreds of thousands of Somalis fleeing climate change and insecurity to sustain grain inflows from Ukraine provide a clear example of what happens when aid is scarce.

Omar, a farmer, was forced to donate most of his produce as taxes to Al-Shabaab, an al-Qaeda-linked militant group that has long ruled parts of Somalia, and what was left over was not enough to feed his family during the Somali conflict. Worst drought in decades. His final blow came when al-Shabaab came under pressure. Somalia military attackkilled his brother.

Omar and his family join a new wave of Somalis on the run. They are among the 135,000 new refugees who have arrived in Dadaab in recent months and were finally granted access to food aid when the Kenyan government reopened refugee registration in a camp 55 miles (90 km) from the Somali border in February.

Dadaab is home to over 360,000 registered refugees and many unregistered refugees. The camp was founded in his 1990s and its permanence is reflected in the neat rows of corrugated iron houses on the old lot.

But food rations are even more fragile. Due to reduced funding from donors, they have been cut from 80% to 60% of their minimum daily nutritional requirements, according to the World Food Programme.Traditional donors have been quick to point to starvation in places like Somalia when criticizing Russia for breaking the grain deal, but they Focused donations elsewhere, including Ukraine. In May, high-level donor conferences in Kenya, Somalia and Ethiopia raised less than $3 billion of the $7 billion requested by organizers for humanitarian assistance.

WFP Executive Director Cindy McCain told the Associated Press on Tuesday that Russia’s actions will likely lead to further aid cuts in refugee camps like Dadaab, especially in Africa. Under the recently terminated agreement, WFP will source 80% of the world’s wheat supply from Ukraine.

“This will result in severe shortages, and in some cases, total shortages,” he said, adding that it was too early to predict what the cuts would look like.

Already, “households that used to have probably three meals a day now have either two or one meal a day. It’s pretty extreme,” WFP’s Dadaab Program Director Colin Breti told The Associated Press at a food distribution center he visited last week.

Families receive monthly rations of sorghum, rice, beans, corn, and vegetable oil, and half-price cash payments of $3 for fresh food purchases.

Aid officials say ration cuts are likely to exacerbate malnutrition. Hagadera, one of three districts in Dadaab, reported 384 cases of malnutrition in the first half of this year, already surpassing the 347 reported for the entire year, according to the International Rescue Commission, which provides health services.

Hagaji’s malnutrition ward is overcrowded with screaming babies. It was supposed to handle 30 patients and now has 56.

Dur Abdirahman, 25, arrived in November with his malnourished baby daughter. Her family fled Somalia when her infant developed hydrocephalus, a condition of fluid in the brain. Until then, Abdirahman said his family had struggled to survive at home.

Barbara Mutimos, health manager at the International Rescue Committee in Dadaab, said even the nutritious peanut paste used to treat children with acute and severe malnutrition is threatened by declining funding and rising starving populations.

But for mothers like Mabina Ali Hassan, 38, conditions in Dadaab are better than non-existent services in her home country, where conflict has destabilized the country for the past three decades.

“I regret returning to Somalia in 2016 after hearing that it was safer,” said the mother of eight. “This baby was born there, but the hospital wasn’t equipped to get medical care.” She said she returned to the refugee camp when her son, now a year old, became malnourished.

Marian Mohamed, 30, said she was lucky to be among the newly registered refugees. The former tea shop owner and her six children arrived in Dadaab in March and lived for four months on food rations from already registered friends.

“Stability welcomed me here, but I’m still striving for the life I dreamed of,” she said.

For refugees, the threat of insecurity still exists. Al-Shabaab earlier this month attacked a Somali military base just seven miles (12 kilometers) from the Kenyan border. As African Union peacekeepers continue to withdraw from Somalia, the Somali military is under pressure to assume security responsibilities.

The Kenyan government is currently in talks with the United Nations on how to integrate hundreds of thousands of refugees into host communities in the future. The United Nations refugee agency says such integration is the best way to accommodate refugees as donor funding dwindles.


Associated Press reporter Sam Mednick, who lives in Dakar, Senegal, contributed.

Copyright 2023 Associated Press. all rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed without permission.

https://www.local10.com/news/world/2023/07/20/in-a-refugee-camp-in-kenya-food-shortages-left-kids-hungry-even-before-russia-ended-grain-deal/ Children starving in Kenyan refugee camps before Russia ends grain trade

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