Field Report from UNICEF’s Christopher Tidey in the Horn of Africa

UNICEF's Christopher Tidey at the Dadaab Camp
UNICEF's Christopher Tidey at the Dadaab Camp

Christopher Tidey at the Dadaab Camp.
UNICEF’s Christopher Tidey is in Dadaab Camp in Kenya, reporting firsthand on the situation threatening the survival of 2.23 million children in the Horn of Africa. We received these notes from him today; you can follow him live on Twitter: @Chris_UNICEF.

The road to Dadaab is bone dry, 62 miles of sand and scrub. The signs of the drought are everywhere–dead animals, dried up vegetation. I cannot imagine how children could possibly make this journey on foot, particularly those who are malnourished. UNICEF has been present in Dadaab and the host communities for years, but we are ramping up our response to meet the increased needs of the influx of refugees.

A woman and several children walk to their tent, in an area for new arrivals in the Dagahaley refugee camp in North Eastern Province, near the Kenya-Somalia border. The camp is among three that comprise the Dadaab camps.

We are working to get nutrition and water points closer to the border to ensure that children are not dying on the way. UNICEF is also planning construction of new classrooms in the camp and host communities to ensure new arrivals are getting back to school. I have heard horrifying stories of mothers losing children on the journey from Somalia–essentially having to leave them by the side of the road because they can’t go on. I have heard stories of children too weak to breastfeed and families of five becoming families of 2 and 3 by the time they make it to the border.

Dagahaley refugee camp
A woman and several children walk to their tent, in an area for new arrivals in the Dagahaley refugee camp in North Eastern Province, near the Kenya-Somalia border. The camp is among three that comprise the Dadaab camps. More than 10,000 Somalis a week are now arriving in the Dadaab camps in eastern Kenya, where aid partners are struggling to meet the needs of some 360,000 people in facilities meant for 90,000. © UNICEF/NYHQ2011-1019/Holt

We are providing the therapeutic food to restore the health of those children suffering from severe acute malnutrition. A colleague¬† reported visiting a child in hospital who last week was near death. He has been steadily gaining weight and strength through UNICEF supplied therapeutic feeding…

To support UNICEF’s emergency relief efforts for children, please donate online at unicefusa.org/donate/horn

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