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UN says most Somalia food aid reaching those in need
by Staff Writers
Geneva (AFP) Aug 16, 2011

The UN's World Food Programme said Tuesday that the "vast majority" of its aid relief to famine-stricken Mogadishu was reaching those in need, in response to claims that some is being stolen.

"The WFP is confident that the vast majority of humanitarian food is reaching starving people in Mogadishu and saving lives every day," WFP spokeswoman Christiane Berthiaume told reporters.

Here comments came the day after Somalia's transitional government said it was investigating reports of aid theft, while adding that there were no firm figures on the scale of any such problem.

"The WFP condemns in the strongest possible terms, any actions that would take even the smallest amount of food from starving and vulnerable Somalis, and we will rigorously investigate any allegations of theft of humanitarian food.

"But please remember it is a very dangerous and difficult place to work, it is probably the worst place in the world to work," Berthiaume said, adding that reports of stolen food "would equal less than one percent of one month's food distribution for Somalia."

Lauren Landis, the director of WFP Geneva, said the UN programme had some strict control measures in place to ensure aid reached its proper destination.

"The WFP has worked hard over a number of years to make sure that we have a very strong system of controls in place, because of the very difficult operating environment there," she said.

According to its own figures, the WFP is currently providing food assistance to some 1.5 million people in central and northern Somalia. Berthiaume added that some 5,000 tonnes of food per month was being distributed in Mogadishu alone.

"We have said to the international community, to donors, and to everyone, 'this is difficult and there are risks', but we have no choice," she said.

"The stakes are very high here. It is a question of life and death," Berthiaume concluded.

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Ten children die each day in Ethiopia refugee camp: UN
Geneva (AFP) Aug 16, 2011 - An average of ten children under the age of five die every day from malnutrition and disease in Ethiopia's Kobe refugee camp, the UN's refugee agency said Tuesday.

"Since the Kobe refugee camp opened in June, an average of 10 children under the age of five have died every day," according to Adrian Edwards, a spokesman with the office of the UN's High Commissioner for Refugees.

"While malnutrition is the leading cause of the high mortality, suspected measles is compounding the problem.

"The combination of disease and malnutrition is what has caused similar death rates in previous famine crises in the region," Edwards said.

Some 25,000 people are currently registered at the Kobe camp, part of the 121,000-strong Dollo Ado refugee complex, Edwards explained, saying the complex had more than doubled since the beginning of the year.

Edwards said a mass vaccination campaign targeting children between the ages of six months and 15 years was completed at the Kobe camp on Monday.

"The majority of refugees arriving from Somalia are from rural areas, and the camps in Ethiopia may be the first time they have been in contact with formal health facilities," he said.

Some 200 to 250 Somalis arrive at the refugee complex every day, Edwards added, fleeing violence and what the United Nations has described as the region's worst drought in decades.

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Malnutrition ravaging Somali refugees in Ethiopia
Dolo Ado, Ethiopia (AFP) Aug 13, 2011
Mohamed Ibrahim fled to Ethiopia to seek relief from a harsh drought devastating his country Somalia, but misery stalked him in refuge where malnutrition recently killed his one-year-old son. The desperate exodus by tens of thousands of Somalis to find assistance across borders has taken them to refugee settlements, where spartan living conditions, congestion and threat of disease are making ... read more

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