Wednesday, June 01, 2011

Somalia: Child casualties rise dramatically in latest fighting in Somalia’s capital

UN - Violence in Somalia’s capital, Mogadishu, has driven the number of child casualties to a new high, the United Nations World Health Organization (WHO) said today, noting that the main cause of children’s deaths were burns, chest injuries and internal haemorrhage resulting from blasts, shrapnel and bullets.

Of the 1,590 reported weapon-related injuries in May alone, 735 cases or 46 per cent were suffered by children under the age of five, compared to only 3.5 per cent in April.

“This is the highest number of injured children that has been reported since the beginning of this year,” said Marthe Everard, WHO’s representative for Somalia, in a press release. “Many children are suffering from very severe wounds, burns and other injuries due to bullets, blast injury and shrapnel.”

Fighting intensified in March, especially around the sprawling Bakara market. For many internally displaced persons (IDPs) and other civilians in Mogadishu, the market is one of the cheapest places to rent accommodation.

Since the beginning of this year, more than 3,900 patients injured in the conflict have been admitted to three main hospitals within Mogadishu. Civilians are particularly vulnerable when fighting flares up because most of the clashes occur in the streets.

“Service delivery is hampered by accessibility issues, poor infrastructure and an insufficient number of health facilities,” said Dr. Everard. “Wherever health facilities are operating, they often lack very basic and essential medicines, supplies and equipment, operational and logistical support.”

In response to the high child casualties, WHO trained 50 doctors and nurses in Mogadishu’s Banadir Hospital on how to treat burns and chest injuries in children.

The agency has also provided the hospital with a trauma treatment kit and two operating theatre kits, including an operating table, operative lights, surgical instruments, medical supplies, drums and sutures.

UN humanitarian agencies and their non-governmental organization (NGO) partners have requested $58.8 million to fund health services in Somalia this year, but only $9.4 million or 16 per cent of the appeal has been received.